This week we are in the hallowed confines of Melrose Abbey on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of its founding.
The octocentenary was marked by two services on June 7, 1936, and our photograph shows Professor Archibald Main from Glasgow delivering his address. But the ceremonies were not without criticism.
There were two services. The morning one was conducted by local ministers and, according to The Southern Reporter, “sincerity was the keynote throughout”. The paper also reported: “The occasion will live for aye in the memory of all who were privileged to be present at the hour when the sun spilled its dream-like benisons on the shattered fragment of the dream in stone and lime”. The afternoon service was broadcast by the BBC and featured the choirs from the Melrose churches under W. H. Jones, and the BBC Singers and BBC Orchestra under the baton of Ian Whyte. The congregation, it was reported, had the role of spectators and listeners rather than worshippers.
And it did not please Southern reader W. S. who wrote to the editor: “The glory of the ruined pile was absorbed in that modern atmosphere of the BBC studio. For any other occasion such as this, when we Borderers gather to celebrate our glorious inheritance, let us keep the right to participate in our services, and let the BBC do their job – broadcast. They can surely do this without filling the whole canvas and violating the amenity and the sacred precincts with rostrum, canvas, whisky case and some inappropriate music. The quartette was beautiful!”.
Included in the musical programme which failed to impress W. S. were Mozart’s Benedictus from Requiem Mass; Earth Goeth to the Earth and How Lovely are They Dwellings.
(compiled by Bob Burgess)