I was invited to share an interest I have with you and as I sit to write this I am mindful that last evening I attended a concert in Southwell Minster of religious music by Poulenc and Faure. Another wonderful concert there: one of quite a few I have enjoyed.
My first visit to a cathedral after my wife’s death in 2013 was to Lincoln. Having endured a period of no day or night, no sense of time, no point in doing anything except longing to rejoin her elsewhere I decided that a kind of pilgrimage journey might bring some kind of light into my bleak personal world. My only certain conviction was that I intended to devote as much of my time as possible to J.S. Bach whose inscription on every piece of music he wrote, “To the glory of God.” seemed good enough for me. I chose Lincoln because Beryl had visited it without me and I wanted to see what she had spoken of.
The journey there did seem like a pilgrimage and when I arrived I was rewarded with a sense of wonder and of purpose. The quiet; the peaceful, respectful atmosphere; the coloured patterns on the floor cast by the stained glass and then the stunning sound of the organist practising for a concert. The joy of religious music! Something in me stirred.
Since then I have visited forty one of the forty four cathedrals in England and Wales. Along the way I have bought a specialist lens to help me photograph the interiors.
My notes for writing articles about such visits cover many sheets of paper and I have colour coded aspects I might want to write about including: architecture, architects, stained glass, sanctuary, pilgrimage, associated stories, but the most common link is music.
Why visit cathedrals? In 1990 my wife and I took my nephew and Godson, Christoph, a young boy of ten whose ambition was to become an airline pilot, to visit Lubeck Cathedral. What a stunning building and at the time it was filled with the sound of Bach’s music. Christoph now has a doctorate in Medieval Church Music, lectures at both Hannover and Hamburg Universities and is a freelance conductor of choirs. Something stirred!
Illustrated with a photograph of nave of the recently refurbished St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
The ongoing publication of my photographs is viewable here:
Next time? Ely Cathedral and why to visit it.