Last evening I joined many others for a wonderful evening singing through Ralph Vaughan William’s amazing Sea Symphony. It was R.V.W’s first and longest symphony, composed between 1903 and 1909, putting to music the words of Walt Whitman. I first sang it in 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall. I don’t think there there is a piece of music composed that evokes so completely the majesty of the sea, than the first movement of this symphony. Later in the symphony we sing –
“We too take ship O Soul;,
Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,
Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail,
Amid the wafting winds (thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O soul).
Caroling free, singing our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.”
The whole piece was still in my head when upon returning home I watched on Catch Up TV Prof Brian Cox remarkable series of programmes on the planets of our solar system. Incidentally Prof Cox’s parents lived in my last parish so I saw them and him occasionally in our local watering hole. That we have visited every planet in the last 50 years is an amazing achievement. When people ask why we do it, our answer must always be because they are there. As a race we are born to explore, to discover, to move beyond the confines of our comfort zones into the unknown and by our exploration grow and develop. The day we stop exploring is the day it all stops.
‘Sail forth – steer for the deep waters only.
reckless O Soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
O my brave soul!
O father, father sail!
O darling joy, but safe! are they not all seas of God?
O father, father, father sail!’
This Saturday the Church celebrates the Feast of St Peter and St Paul and in our Diocese of London on that day 49 ordinands will be ordained as deacons in St Paul’s Cathedral. We pray for them, their families, and the parishes in which they will serve.
With every blessing