IT WILL not surprise regular Church Times readers, but our 100 Years Ago column has got it wrong again: “One thing is quite clear, that no man can discharge the functions of a cinema organist and church organist as well.” This hostage to fortune (22 October) was picked up a century after it should have been by Canon Michael Ainsworth, formerly almost a neighbour at St George’s-in-the-East, in London.
“Organists enjoy playing Norman Cocker’s Tuba Tune of 1922, though we struggle to get our fingers around the last two pages. The tuba he had in mind was at Manchester Cathedral, where he was assistant organist — doubling as a cinema organist; for, as a recent Church Times archive piece from 1921 pointed out, churches and chapels were the principal source for this new profession.
“His later years, as director of music at the cathedral from 1943, imaginatively involved in retrieving the war-damaged organ and planning for its replacement, have been well-chronicled. He died in 1953, having lived a bohemian life in Dukinfield: he was also apparently a magician.
“Less well-known is that in the 1920s he was for a time director of music at Holy Innocents’, Fallowfield, in south Manchester’s student belt (one of 16 churches bearing this dedication, with its challenge of a post-Christmas patronal festival).
“In his honour, we have recently ‘dished up’ (as Percy Grainger would say) his Office of the Holy Communion in F minor (published in 1939) for Common Worship texts — mostly cosmetic adjustments, but confecting an Eric Morecambe-style responsorial Gloria (all the right notes, but not necessarily . . .).
“We are using this in the Kingdom season, and it has been well-received, both by our discerning and half-Iranian congregation (“very Third Programme”, one member said approvingly), and by our small and skilful gallery choir, made up of choral scholars (mostly RNCM postgrads) and enthusiastic amateurs.”
The Fallowfield adaptation of this setting is available on request, through www.holyinnocentsff.org, as also are details of the vacancy for a tenor choral scholar at Holy Innocents’, Canon Ainsworth says.
Although I have never played the Tuba Tune, I have often sung what we simply call “Cocker” in a corner of south London where we didn’t need to update it. It is quietly appealing, and never tempted me to draw a straight line from our organ bench to that, say, of the Regal Cinema, Marble Arch.
BY THE standards of our review pages, it was the eleventh hour when we heard of a celebration of the life of the Revd Basil Jellicoe. By the time you read this, it will have taken place on Wednesday evening.
Jellicoe 100, at St Pancras Old Church, marked the centenary of Fr Jellicoe’s arrival in that poverty-stricken part of London, where he set about improving the housing conditions. When people talk about Anglo-Catholic slum priests whom they wish to emulate, his is one of the big names that always come up.
Son of the Admiral who was in command at the Battle of Jutland, he didn’t, however, make it to his 37th birthday. He has a memorial in the diocese of London’s calendar.
Among those putting on the show were original cast members of Jellicoe the Musical, which I went to in 2003; and it was partly a tribute to the actor-director Rob Inglis, who was behind that, and died this year. Jellicoe 100 was organised also as a fund-raiser for A Space for Us: a new museum for this social history.
But perhaps Jellicoe the Musical might equally have been called A Star is Born; for one of the cast went on to become the present Bishop of Edmonton.
NOT invited, again, to recommend a Book of the Year, I hardly know where to begin; for in the unusual circumstances of the pandemic, so many books couldn’t be noticed.
I certainly look very fondly at 2020’s “They Fly Forgotten as a Dream . . .”: Some lesser-known church musicians from the Victorian and Edwardian eras by John Henderson and Trevor Jarvis, which is old news now, but an absolute must — at least for anyone who has ever trawled the dustier corners of a copyright library’s music catalogue for that period.
Forty-five musicians, ranging from Walter Alcock, of The Organ fame, and Varley Roberts (Sweet Tones Remembered) to Bertram Luard-Selby (yes, I sing one of his settings, too), J. H. Maunder (Olivet to Calvary), and Royle Shore, the solicitor who was an advocate of plainsong, still await my holiday (RSCM, £28 (Church Times Bookshop, £25.20), including mixed-media CD; 978-0-85402-302-8).
But forgive me if my heart is hardening against other specialist books whose opening pages (unlike this one’s) are filled with so many fulsome tributes solicited before publication that we are left scratching our heads about who is left to be approached as a reviewer. So, please, publishers: leave something on the plate for Mr Manners. It is a kindness to the author, too.