10 April 2020. A really warm spring day. The household next door, three young women, decided that sunbathing on the hard-standing outside the house was the way to go. Attracted quite a lot of attention from the shoppers walking past on their way to Waitrose.
Since I could hear every word of every conversation through my open balcony doors in the sitting room, I did wonder what they made of my choice of music. Sacred anthems and keyboard music by William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons seems an unlikely combo with sunbathing.
It was the right choice for me today. Solemn and still, with a lot of space within the music. Music that was written in just such times as these. Times when the plague could reappear in any year. When death from contagious diseases was the norm and life expectancy very fragile. We have no concept of that in the West anymore. We have all lived through the elimination or suppression of so many killers without even noticing that they have gone. Thirty years ago I knew people who still lived with the consequences of childhood polio. Unthinkable now. So unthinkable that some even give themselves the luxury of refusing vaccination. Now we have a world without a vaccination or a cure and it is a frightening place.
No sacred anthems will be sung in our closed churches this Easter. Tried to work out the last time every church in the country was ordered to close: probably the excommunication of King John by the Pope. So more than 800 years. Instead the churches have embraced the virtual world. Enjoyed a short piece for Maundy Thursday by my friend Avril, And then a series of reflections for Good Friday from our church in Faringdon. Another vicar friend has been recording evening prayer every night since this all began. All of them plain, simple, meaningful moments recorded in living rooms or gardens – the church is not the building.
This is my personal Mass Observation blog. I invite anyone, particularly members of Radley College community, to join in to create a group record of this important period in our history as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.
© Clare Sargent