Monday 23 July 2012

Founders' Day Requiem

On Saturday we at St Mary's remembered the Founders of the Bowes Museum and of our church, John and Josephine Bowes.
The Good Lord moved His jet-stream just far enough north to give us a warm, sunny and windless day - just perfect!
The Requiem Mass too was just perfect - when is it not? - but the singing was out of this world. As usual the singers were headed by the Rudgate Singers but they were joined by the Ordinariate Choir from Darlington who sang Pearsall's setting for a Requiem Mass. We believe that this is the first time that this music has been sung in its proper liturgical setting, and it was glorious. Strong, confident, a powerful expression of the hope of eternal life. I understand that the musical score called for trumpets and euphonium, which we did not have, but the music hardly needed them!
The ceremony ended with a procession to the Tomb of John and Josephine, which is behind the apse of the church - prayers were said and the Absolution given.
Afterwards everyone was invited into the garden for coffee, tea and something to eat.
The whole occasion was totally uplifting.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Difficult Problems?

Prayer to Saint Joseph for a Difficult Problem
O Glorious St. Joseph, thou who hast power to render possible even things which are considered impossible, come to our aid in our present trouble and distress.
Take this important and difficult affair under thy particular protection, that it may end happily. (MENTION YOUR REQUEST)
O dear St. Joseph, all our confidence is in thee. Let it not be said that we would invoke thee in vain; and since thou art so powerful with Jesus and Mary, show that thy goodness equals thy power.  Amen.
St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray for us.
(With acknowledgements to Father Z's blog)

Friday 13 July 2012

Barney Life No 39: The Castle Players

This week The Castle Players perform their annual play by William Shakespeare. This year the play they are doing is "As You Like It".  As everyone knows, the weather has been atrocious: the lawn behind the Bowes Museum is sodden and now rutted and gouged by the big lorries which delivered the huge Grandstands to their places and all the other vehicles bringing tents and other equipment to the Outdoor Theatre.  But the Show Must Go On!  The Players are proud of the fact that in all the years they have been performing they have never cancelled a performance because of the weather.

The performance area is open grassland dominated by a magnificent ancient fir tree, with a circle of trees as a backdrop.  It also was sodden, and much sport was had with a sheet of green plastic which was placed on the ground if the play called for someone to fall on the ground.  Such as the moment when the leading lady was about to faint - we could all see that she was fainting and held up by two stalwarts at an acute angle until a third gentleman placed the green plastic below her, and then the two stalwarts just dropped her - THUMP -onto the ground!  The Players as usual gave wonderful performances, the action was nonstop in two halves and always interesting; many were the guffaws and giggles amongst the audience.
Since shepherds and shepherdesses were a big part of the plot, two sheep (Lincolnshire Longwools) had major parts in the action, at  least they were in a pen at one side of the arena.  One, called Bert, had an occasional speaking part, baaing at  the sound of his mistress's voice, leading to much amusement among the audience! Bert gave an interview about himself, and this is what he had to say:

Myself and my brothers Johnny and James are delighted to be taking to the stage with The Castle Players in As You Like It and readily accepted the parts (afier negotiating our contracts, of course - namely how much food would be involved). I am a sheep of some repute, having gained fame (definitely NOT notoriety) throughout the area for my particular skills as an escape artist and petty food thief I have decided to put my considerable talents to better use however, and am very excited about becoming the world’s first sheep actor I am currently a foster father to an orphan foal on the farm, and hope to inspire her to continue in my footsteps. I have taken a method approach to this part, which has mainly involved eating, breathing, and living being a sheep. I have found this easy, which I imagine is largely due to my incredible acting talents rather than anything else. As soon as this show finishes we are all off to Hollywood to start work on a new film so unfortunately will be unable to perform at Stratford next week. Bert

Indeed, The Castle Players have been invited to Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Mr Shakespeare himself and The Royal Shakespeare Company; they will perform the second half of As You Like It at The Dell on Saturday July 22nd - a huge honour for them and very justified!

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Founders' Day Requiem

On Saturday, July 21st, at 12 noon, we will be celebrating our annual Founders' Day Requiem Mass for John and Josephine Bowes.  It is true that our church of St Mary's here in Barnard Castle is not exactly the church which John had envisaged. Josephine, his wife, had already died when he decided to continue to build the church in her memory next to (what has become) the famous Bowes Museum; but when he ran out of money to finish the project, the church stood as a folly for about fifty years, until the money which he had left to the Church Trustees accumulated sufficiently for the then trustees to move the whole building to its present location.  So the church as it is now is not what John had intended but the money was his gift. Hence our desire to honour them and pray for their souls.
The Mass will be sung by the Rudgate Singers with a choir augmented by the Ordinariate Choir. Mike, of the Rudgate Singers, sent me this message:
"Just a quick message to let you know that we believe it will be the first time ever that the music we're planning on singing (Pearsall's setting of the Requiem Mass) has been sung in its proper liturgical setting. It's been performed in concerts, but not during Mass (in either form it appears). Consequently we're getting quite excited by this - it's not every day you get to sing in a world première liturgical performance - I just hope that we do it justice and that people like it! We'll be joined on the day by some singers from the Darlington Ordinariate Choir.
We would welcome anybody who wishes to come along to celebrate with us on July 21st, and weather permitting there will be refreshments on the lawn after Mass (otherwise huddled in the house!)