excerpt from 'My Boyhood at the turn of the century' pp. 224-225 (358 words)

excerpt from 'My Boyhood at the turn of the century' pp. 224-225 (358 words)

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My Boyhood at the turn of the century

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[There is no evidence in Frank Goss’s memoir that his family attended church; they were too poor for ‘Sunday best’ clothing and shoes. When they moved to Bristol, he chose to go to Sunday school to be with his new mates and was proud to wear second-hand ‘Sunday best’ to do so]


[…] It was arranged that after half an hour or so of bible study the organ would peel forth and we should all stand up and sing hymns. I liked this part of the proceedings. To me it expressed the collective soul of all mankind. Out of us came volumes of noise which strengthened or weakened at the direction of the choir master who beat out the time for the hymn from the rostrum.


After a few Sundays this hymn singing was abandoned and, in its place, the choir master endeavoured to produce a rather grand musical work arranged on the lines of “Mendelsohn Song of Hope” with [?] of hails and paeans of praise. It was the grandest thing in music I was ever to be involved in. 


The choir master divided us up into sections and waved us into the general melee with his baton. It started with the thin treble of the younger children followed by our crowd, who would be swept in to body the thing up a bit, then the young men and women borrowed from the church choir proper would swing in to round the whole thing off. Softer, softer, softer the noise was battened down by the conductor until it seemed that it might fade out of the doors like an expired breath, then up, up, up, all earth, all things, all people were swept up into the welkin and the bare roof timbers above our heaven-raised eyes seemed to pulse like the strings of a harp which if not quickly muted, might burst the roof of the whole world asunder. I cannot now remember one word of the oratorio, but bits of music unroll under the needle of the record of my music memory; I find myself hailing, or praising quite soundlessly and almost unconsciously to this very day. 

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excerpt from 'My Boyhood at the turn of the century' pp. 224-225 (358 words)


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