The organ music of Basil Harwood -
'... Partington and organ are thrillingly at one and in devoted service of the composer ...'
Organist at both Ely and Christ Church, Oxford, Basil Harwood impinged
on my boyhood exclusively with his hymn tune, 'Thornbury'. I cannot say
I was aware of his passing in April 1949, by which time he was already retired
from professional music for forty years. But the marvellous tune, with its
Parryesque dignity and rhetorical rightness, has remained a favourite. The
words, too, had a special place in the economic calculations of my schooldays.
My Classics master was great-nephew to Dean Plumptre, their author, and
we were convinced that a penny went into his bank account every time we
rose to celebrate 'One Church, one faith, one Lord'. A signed photograph
of the dean is above my desk, and I can only admire with wry delight the
skill with which all six verses of the hymn concentrate their essence towards
the majestic refrain, whether it is the heralds 'To all alike proclaiming'
etc, the faithful few clinging to a gospel such as 'Was all in this enfolded'
etc, or the congregation itself roused to assert that 'We will maintain,
Copyright © 24 April 2002
Robert Anderson, Moscow, Russia
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