29 April 2012

The Vicar of Bart’s makes way for the Vicar of Dibley

The Vicar of Dibley ... a tune matching a theme

Patrick Comerford

The Vicar of Saint Bartholomew’s, the Revd Andrew McCroskery, was away today, and I was invited to preside and preach at the Sung Eucharist this morning.

I had arrived early, and waiting in the vestry it was a delight to listen to the choir rehearsing beforehand.

As we waited for the bells at 11, I joked before the procession that listening to them rehearsing I realised that, while the Vicar of Saint Bartholomew’s was absent, we would have the joys of listening to The Vicar of Dibley.

And we did.

The setting for this morning’s Eucharist was the Holy Communion in C by John Ireland (1879-1962). But the Communion Motet was ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ by Howard Goodall. This setting of Psalm 23 is better known as the theme from The Vicar of Dibley. How appropriate for a morning in which the Psalm and Lectionary readings focussed on the theme of the Good Shepherd.

Last night, when I mentioned this on Facebook, George Lawlor recalled how Howard Goodall came to Wexford a few years ago to see the Wexford Light Opera production of The Hired Man, “a brilliant musical which he composed with Melvyn Bragg.”

Apart from The Vicar of Dibley, Howard Goodall has composed incidental music for several popular British comedy programmes, including Red Dwarf, Blackadder, Mr Bean, and The Catherine Tate Show.

As an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, Goodall met the actor Rowan Atkinson and the writer Richard Curtis, and the three have collaborated on several television projects, including Not The Nine O’Clock News.

He has written requiems and settings for psalms, and has been commissioned by schools, chapels, churches, choirs, cathedrals and festivals throughout Britain.

Recently, he was commissioned by Truro Cathedral to write a new work for all four cathedral choirs: Truro Cathedral Choir (boys and men), Saint Mary’s Singers (mixed adults), Cornwall Youth Choir and Cornwall Junior Choir. This piece, A New Heart, A New Spirit, sets Biblical texts from Wisdom and Ezekiel in four languages – English, Latin, French and Cornish – and was first performed in Truro Cathedral last June, along with several of his other choral compositions.

Over coffee in Saint Bartholomew’s, it was good to meet some long-standing friends, including Leslie and Averil Forrest from Co Wexford.

Patrick Walshe’s exhibition in the Crypt in Christ Church Cathedral continues until 10 May (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

After lunch in the Silk Road Café at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle, I went back to Christ Church Cathedral to view “Light-Silence-Time,” an exhibition in the Cathedral Crypt of paintings by Patrick Walshe.

Later, at Choral Evensong, I read the first lesson (Exodus 16: 4-15), and the second lesson was read by the canon-in-residence, Canon John McCullough.

Afterwards, I went around the corner to Cow’s Lane for coffee in La Dolce Vita. By now, the rains blown in by that north-easterly wind were coming down, the temperature had dropped to seven or six, and the weather had turned wintery. But the Vicar of Dibley was still bringing a smile to my face.

A rain-soaked afternoon at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

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