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War March Of The Priests


Malcolm Kemp
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This morning, in the cathedral of a neighbouring diocese, I attended the ordination to the pristhood of one of my former choristers/organ students and this Mendelssohn piece was played at the end whlst the Bishop was encouraging us all to applaud and cheer the newly ordained. (The bishop lost no opportunity to mention the local football team's place in the Premiership League.) Whilst I have to admit ignorance of what the priests in Mendelssohn's piece were actually warring and marching about - and it could have been a very laudable cause for all I know - I did just wonder whether it was sending out the right message to eight new priests at the start of their sacerdotal ministry, especially as the service had been all about higher matters than war. Were they being encouraged musically to go back to their parishes and cause trouble? - certainly not what their excellent diocesan bishop was telling them.

 

Do any members - particuarly those with what one might call feet in both camps - have any particular feelings about the choice of this piece? Do any members have any anecdotes about voluntaries at other services which have been totally inappropriate?

 

Malcolm Kemp

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I have no problem with War March of the Priests and use it myself on occasion if there are a number of priests at a service. I think it's just a bit of fun!

 

Indeed, a couple of weeks ago the Vicar of one of my churches celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination. I was going to play this as the last voluntary (due to all the priests who were going to attend) but he requested one of the Lefebure-Wely Sorties instead! :lol:

 

However, I played WMOTP beforehand and those who recognized it loved it, and appreciated the joke!

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This ties in with the other thread about Inspirational LPs.

 

My first ever organ LP bought for me by my parents when I was about 12/13 (sadly no longer in my possession), was of Simon Preston playing the West ABbey organ. The Mend sticks very clearly in my mind, because the sleeve notes went something like, "...Mendelssohn wrote many fine pieces for the organ, this isn't one of them..." Perhaps if any forum members have a copy they could confirm this.

 

I don't actually play it myself, though it is in that rather good red OUP volume about Ceremonial Music.

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There's a story, which probably isn't true, of a civic service with the dignatories processing down the aisle to the hymn, "See the evil hosts advancing, With Satan at their head."

:P

 

Good one, and perfectly possible as well. Sounds like the sort of hymn that would be great for a church service marking a conference of one of the UK's political parties, beginnig with 'L' :lol: .....

 

Dave

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About three weeks ago at one of my 'regular' churches the vicar and his wife celebrated their Silver Wedding, so I played the Mendelssohn as the voluntary. Mind, he guessed what was coming and appreciated the joke and the congregation also made the link. R.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
I have no problem with War March of the Priests and use it myself on occasion if there are a number of priests at a service. I think it's just a bit of fun!

 

I agree - our Cathedral organist likes to play it at the end of the Chrism Mass. I also agree that it isn't one of Mendelssohn's best pieces - but it is one of those gloriously vulgar moments (like some bits of Widor) that put a smile on the face on occasions that can get too solemn.

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I agree - our Cathedral organist likes to play it at the end of the Chrism Mass. I also agree that it isn't one of Mendelssohn's best pieces - but it is one of those gloriously vulgar moments (like some bits of Widor) that put a smile on the face on occasions that can get too solemn.

I love it! :lol:

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In a world full of poe-faced prelates, who often take themselves far too seriously, the "War march of the priests" seems to me to be the perfect foil to their absurdity.

 

It wasn't long ago in the process of evolution, that a certain liberal academic was consecrated as Bishop of Durham in York Minster. The delightful Dr David Jenkins was castigated for his views on almost everything, by that mean-minded body of churchfolk who laughingly describe themselves as "conservatives". These people, we must recall, were the same ones who took us down the cul-de-sac of modern-day puritanism, on the pretext that they alone knew God's will and testament. The spawn of that seed is still at work to-day, busily "conserving" all that is good, by creating schism and by "sending out messages" to those who disagree with them. I hesitate to suggest that these are the wolves in sheeps clothing; sheep never being quite so drab or malicious in my experience.

 

War is seldom far away in the repertoire of the faithful, and whilst it may be entirely commendable that some are prepared to die for their faith, it is perhaps less commendable that others are quite prepared to allow others to die on their behalf.

 

Was there ever a difference between physical violence and verbal violence? I somehow doubt that there ever was. So when Dr. David Jenkins had to exit York Minster to face a baying mob denouncing him and waving banners, I think the fact that John Scott-Whiteley played "The war march of the priests" as a final voluntary, was as good a musical comment on religious affairs as it was possible to get at the time.

 

Of course, the "conservatives" had a field-day afterwards, when lightning struck the transept and almost burned down the entire edifice.

 

MM

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In a world full of poe-faced prelates, who often take themselves far too seriously, the "War march of the priests" seems to me to be the perfect foil to their absurdity.

I like to keep the "Liberty Bell" handy for this sort of purpose. As this march is, for most people, inextricably linked with Monty Python, and therefore all things very silly, I like to bring out the Liberty Bell as a comment if I think the sermon has been particularly silly, or sometimes (as when our church youth group ran this year's Mothering Sunday Service with a "Dr Who" theme running throughout it) as a comment that the whole service has been in some way risible.

 

(Ps. don't take this as in anyway anti Monty Python though, took daughters to spamalot last week)

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.... processing down the aisle to the hymn, "See the evil hosts advancing, With Satan at their head."

 

Wow! This is a must have :lol: – what’s the number/book?? :rolleyes::rolleyes: Sits alongside other battle hymns with magnificent poetry :lol: like “Say not the struggle naught availeth, …. If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars, it may be in yon smoke concealed…. These are memorable hymns – enough to put anyone’s hood in a twist… :P:P:P !

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Wow! This is a must have :lol: – what’s the number/book?? :rolleyes::rolleyes: Sits alongside other battle hymns with magnificent poetry :lol: like “Say not the struggle naught availeth, …. If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars, it may be in yon smoke concealed…. These are memorable hymns – enough to put anyone’s hood in a twist… :P:P:P !

Alas, this was quoted to me many years ago, and I don't know the source.

 

I once had a copy of the 1825 edition of Wesley's Hymn book.

 

Hymn no 443 about the salvation of the Mahometans describes Mohammed in terms which would bring a jihad on a church if you sang it today.

 

The funeral hymn no 48, “Ah, blessed appearance of death” might still be useful, but we couldn't sing it today with a straight face. It’s too much like, “Ain’t it grand to be blooming well dead”.

 

Hymn 470 offers some useful guidance for men about how to rule their families aright, and how to treat their “inferiors” – by which Wesley meant wives, children and servants. Methodists should not betray their Lord’s authority by treating their inferiors as equals!

 

I'm not sure that playing the tunes would bring smiles to any faces, because few people now know them.

 

One might get a laugh from a congregation of cyclists by playing, "And can it be that I should gain" as they would immediately think ahead to "my chains fell off".

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Well I hardly think that sheep are an ideal role model. Timid, witless, dim animals.

 

 

=============================

 

 

Perhaps that's why we are always regarded as "the flock".

 

Actually, sheep aint as dim as you think, or as timid. They have a wonderful ability to huddle in groups when there are blizzards, and then they slowly rotate as a flock; moving towards the centre of the group to get warm, and then moving to the outside to allow others to get warm. They work together to ensure mutual survival.

 

They also crop grass with a precision which the groundsmen at "Lords" or "Wembley" may but envy.

 

Young rams are very brave, which I know from bitter experience.

 

In trying to extricate a lamb from a wire fence, I was "rushed" by a young ram, and the little critter knocked me flying with a single head-butt. A bit like the "Bricklayer story," I rolled down a steep grass bank, only to be met as I tried to get up, by the offending ram tumbling on top of me; hooves flying. I did the time honoured thing, and grabbed the young ram by horns and rear-end, and staggered up the slope. Letting it go, I turned my attention once more to the wire fence, whereupon the creature turned and made a full frontal ram-raid and knocked me over again.

 

It all had a happy ending, but I was a bit bruised afterwards.

 

MM

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Guest Roffensis
This ties in with the other thread about Inspirational LPs.

 

My first ever organ LP bought for me by my parents when I was about 12/13 (sadly no longer in my possession), was of Simon Preston playing the West ABbey organ. The Mend sticks very clearly in my mind, because the sleeve notes went something like, "...Mendelssohn wrote many fine pieces for the organ, this isn't one of them..." Perhaps if any forum members have a copy they could confirm this.

 

I don't actually play it myself, though it is in that rather good red OUP volume about Ceremonial Music.

 

 

I don't recall an LP of Preston at Westminster Abbey doing that march, was it Decca? I do recall a particularly scintillating performance by Arnold Blackheath or someone like that (so long ago) on a EP called "Music for Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals". As I recall, I think it was done at Hyde Park Chapel.

 

R

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Reminds me of sight-singing from the OUP English romantic partsongs book on the bus on a choir tour. No 9 Julius Benedict "Dirge for the faithful lover". Not a masterpiece, typical of its era and genre you think as you go through pages 1 & 2, turn to the next page and the whole bus collapses at the words "come with heavy moaning". Thus started the tradition on each tour of trying to get to the end.

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I don't recall an LP of Preston at Westminster Abbey doing that march, was it Decca? I do recall a particularly scintillating performance by Arnold Blackheath or someone like that (so long ago) on a EP called "Music for Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals". As I recall, I think it was done at Hyde Park Chapel.

 

R

Was it Nicholas Kynaston at RAH?

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Guest Roffensis
Was it Nicholas Kynaston at RAH?

 

 

That was an awful noise!!!

 

The organ sounded so "splashy".

 

R

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