Festival of Sons & Friends of the Clergy15th May 2018
St Paul's Cathedral
Would you believe it? The Master is back in St Paul's for another polishing of the halo - the second time in 4 days. The masters and prime wardens assembled again, this time in reverse order of precedence. Why? My view, for what it's worth, is reverse order allows the Great 12 to get out first and grab the champagne at the various receptions held after this event. My chum, Tony Smart at number 83, has been dis-installed and replaced by the new Master Furniture Maker, Hayden Davies, who incidentally lives 3 miles away from us in Buckinghamshire. After processing down the Nave, we were guided to three rows near the front. Excellent seats with a strong chance of hearing the new Bishop's sermon. We stood in front of our seats under the Dome and remained standing until the last Master was in place (Master Mercer, of course) and then we all sat down in another carefully choreographed piece of pageantry. I thought this act deserved a round of applause from the congregation but there was just the gentle hum of whispered chats. Quite possibly, the congregation was stunned into silence.
Sons & Friends of the Clergy has its origins in the middle of the 17th century and is a charity to help members of the clergy and their families in times of need. This was the 364th annual festival and the service is known for its fine music. We had the choirs of St Paul's, Chelmsford and Gloucester Cathedrals. The performances were simply outstanding but the combined choirs' performance of the Anthem set to music by Parry was astonishing. Under the Dome, they sounded beautiful. Alas, when the Bishop of London gave her sermon, the dreaded acoustics made her words very difficult to follow.
After the blessing, the processions started and I soon found myself out of the West Door, with gown and badge, in brilliant and warm sunshine, while the Great 12 were possibly on their second glass of champagne.