From our Chaplain, Canon Graham Bettridge
“a still small voice” I Kings ch19v12
‘Plymouth Argyll 2-Tranmere Rovers 2; Aston Villa nil Torquay United nil; Queen of the South 3 Aberdeen 4; and so it continued. The voice had an almost mesmeric cadence to it, consistent and clear, the skill lay in guessing the score or draw from the intonation. Those who listened regularly became adept at this.
(5.00 p.m. every Saturday at the House of the Sacred Mission at Kelham, tea and marmalade abandoned, we gathered to listen in rapt attention.)
In the play by T S Eliot “Murder in the Cathedral”, the author presents to his audience a power struggle of jealous rivalry and political ambition. The end is dramatic and for Thomas final, in this life. With a very capable retired professional producer and a keen group of gifted parishioners it was decided that we, as a united parish, would produce it.
The skills needed were found in the individual actors; the set was a given, being the church buildings, (Harden Church near Bingley and Skipton Holy Trinity Church). Rehearsing the chorus became the most demanding part of the play. The art of ‘choral speaking’ is learnt only by practice, involving concentration and listening. The group speaks with one indivisible voice and a precise identical tempo, it is consistent and clear. The ‘chorus ‘for Eliot was important: being the voice of the women of Canterbury they provided a commentary on the happenings. Incidentally, at the opening night with invited guests as the final act concluded, the lady in the kitchen switched the big tea urns on and blew all the fuses. The result was darkness, a dramatic silence followed by thunderous applause, then a search for candles.
The Royal Air Forces Aerobatic Team leader, Squadron Leader Martin Pert, was describing the skill and art needed to command his flight. The formation known as the Red Arrows proscribe complex manoeuvres in close formation at high speed. Due to the pandemic they have not been free to practise this skill; he was amazed at how quickly their ability was degenerating and eager to return to flying. The ear of the pilots had to be finely tuned to the tempo of instruction he was giving them in a constant and clear way. The pilot on the furthest left of centre hears the instructions at the same time as the rest of the eleven flyers but he must begin his turn a fraction sooner than the others and like wise each pilot, moving not so much on a word of command but in a controlled rhythmic response. This resulted in the squadron acting as one responding to the ‘metronomic cadence’.
The confident cadence and easy fluidity of our world feels to have been be ruptured by distraction but healing is slowly returning. This year is paused between the flowering and the harvesting, the swifts are on the wing and the days slow and precious. We flourish and find life in the service and care of others, that is our consistent and clear vocation. Listen and live for those around us, in the same dependable way as the ‘choral speaker’ or the Red Arrows pilot. You will hear the consistent heart beat of creation.
Graham W Bettridge
Hon Chaplain Parcevall Hall