WATCHING a BBC Four television documentary in which Prince Charles learns about the work of Hubert Parry, the famous Victorian and Edwardian composer, I was interested to see the Prince Of Wales visiting Holy Innocents Church in Highnam, Gloucestershire, which is closely linked to Parry’s family.
In his book, ‘Suite In Four Movements’, the celebrated Hucknall composer, Eric Coates (born 1886) fondly recalls a holiday spent with the Rev W.H.Harding, one-time curate at Hucknall, during his time as vicar of Churcham, near Highnam.
Coates loved staying with his friend, W.H.Harding, at the Old Vicarage, Churcham, as he was one of the easiest men to get along with.
Sometimes the Rev Harding’s neighbour, Sir Hubert Parry, would send a present of some grouse.
The latter would be the cue, after dinner, for Mr Harding and the young Coates to settle down in a couple of deep armchairs in the drawing room to discuss, in the soft lamplight, through the medium of the old harmonium, their favourites in music.
Did Coates know Parry’s ‘Blest Pair Of Sirens’?
How did he like Elgar’s new work, ‘The Dream Of Grontius’? And so on and so on.
And then Harding would pull himself up out of his chair and play some of his favourite hymn tunes.
The Rev Harding’s neighbour, Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918), is chiefly remembered for his anthems used on State occasions and his 1916 setting of William Blake’s poem, ‘Jerusalem’, swiftly adopted by Suffragettes and the Women’s Institute, is now generally regarded as our second national anthem.
I was glad that Parry stirring anthem was sung recently at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey.