Sunday, 15 November 2009

School assembly, Oaklands

Each school day would start with Assembly. In the Juniors, this would take place in the ground floor hall. The eight classes of the Juniors (years one through four, two classes in each year) would gather to hear a piece of classical music played over the Tannoy loudspeaker system. Some Italian arias, I recall (Caro mio Ben). Also, Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. After a few words from the headmaster, Mr Beckford, we would sing a hymn.

Ones that spring to mind: For Those In Peril On The Sea; as Welsh as you can get in West London Bread of Heaven; at harvest festival time, We Plough The Fields and Scatter, Come, ye Thankful People, Come; and the perennial O God, Our Help in Ages Past; Praise My Soul the King of Heaven; O Worship the King (Our Shield and Defender/The Ancient of Days/Pavilion'd in splendour/And girded with praise.) To Be A Pilgrim (though I recall the first line as "Who would true valiant be"). And of course Onward Christian Soldiers, and All Things Bright and Beautiful.

One that came back to me months later after compiling the above list from memory was At the Name of Jesus (this version).

During Advent, of course, carols would be sung.

No concessions to multifaith other than a once-weekly assembly for Catholic children held in a classroom by Mr Sayer. Who drove a Sunbeam-Talbot 90 car.

Back then, Primacy of the Established Church (of England) held firm; Queen Elizabeth on the Throne, God in His Heaven, we all knew our place. Yet from today's perspective, over 40 years on, this feudal vision of a deity that is Lord and King, wears a Crown, runs a Kingdom or even an Empire, is out of time and out of place. "Jesus, the President and CEO"? A similarly unlikely conceit. A reason why C of E is losing touch with humans today.

I very much doubt that any of my fellow pupils at Oaklands read this blog, but if you are one of them, and can recall anything else from Assembly, please let me know.

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