The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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April 2019


Judy East

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful". William Morris

The church has many beautiful things - most of them useful too - but one of my favourites can't really be called beautiful except insofar as it is exactly right for the job. It's a very ordinary-looking box which, at the moment at least, sits on top of the radiator in the north east corner of the church. At some time it was painted to match the walls which makes it even more unobtrusive. It holds the titles of the Sundays that are used on the hymn boards week by week. Very ordinary - probably homemade - but what impresses me is that the carpenter didn't think "Quinquagesima is the longest card so I'll make all the slots that length" - he measured each card and made the slots to match them exactly so there's no fishing around for the right one. It's not in the inventory, it probably wasn't considered important enough, but I know it to be useful and I really don't care if it's not beautiful!

Last month I rashly listed the number of new technologies I was grappling with - rashly because a whole new area of technology has been put in to bemuse me: the new lighting system. Honestly, I've worked in theatres with fewer channels than we now have! But isn't it splendid? The Commandment Boards - how many people actually noticed them, yet they were extensively restored some years ago and have hung there patiently ever since, waiting for their moment of glory. There's lighting for the choir, for concerts, for plays, for the south chapel, long one of the gloomiest areas - and it's not all done yet. I'm not sure if you can bless light fittings, but we can certainly give thanks for the designers and the electricians who have installed it - and who have been really nice to work with, and even wiped down the pews from time to time so we didn't get too dirty!

That's not to say the church is clean, exactly, and I'm sure Anne would welcome extra helpers on the morning of 13th April to shift all remaining dirt downstairs, and on the 20th April to tackle the gallery. If you take pride in our church do come and help - if only because the dirt shows up so much better with the new lights!

And we expect a lot of visitors because there's so much going on as Jeremy has outlined in his letter. There's more about these events further on this issue, particularly Peter Foggitt's Musical Notes on page 14. In addition, on April 3rd we reinstate our lunchtime concerts with a recital by Judith Choi Castro and the Literary Hours, which moved to the Crypt room during the rewiring, come back into church on the 17th with a compilation for Holy Week.

No less traditional than all the music and services for Passiontide and Easter is the morning gathering on Easter Eve (20th) for decorating the church (while the cleaners beaver away in the gallery) and the construction of the Easter garden.

It's a bit of a shock, after all that, to find the schools go back on 23rd!

We round off the month with a Marie Curie fundraising concert on 27th.

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