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Trevor Wedlake's Writings
Psalms & Symphonies

Published in the Village Journal July, 1974


“The world”, said Wordsworth, “is too much with us”, and on a dark, wet winter afternoon I stepped inside the cathedral and left the world truly behind.

It was about five minutes to five and the verger was tolling the bells for evensong. The few visitors at this time of year were leaving and the nave was soon still and empty. I stood and savoured the quiet centuries. At five o'clock the bells stopped and the choir made its procession into church. The ancient office of evensong was about to begin; and not only here in Wells but in Hereford and Salisbury and Durham, and in cathedral churches all over the land - a thought to spur one's innate nostalgia for stability and continuity.

The verger, a shadowy, black-clad figure was flitting about his official business in the dim light of the North transept, and the choir began the psalms.
I don' t know what relevance the psalms have or indeed if any of these age-old proceedings have any relevance to our modern world, but I have always enjoyed the singing of psalms, and casting such doubts aside, I stayed and listened to their timeless words, sombre, abstruse, familiar, beautiful.

The singing was disciplined, the pointing precise. Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, Versicles and Responses, all were sung with the same professionalism to the empty church. A splendid and arresting sound.

On my way out to the winter evening and the 20th century I saw the notice which stated that the cost of maintaining the cathedral is £50,000 per annum, and I duly made a minute donation to this vast sum. But it seemed to me the State should make it its responsibility to preserve the beautiful fabric of Wells and all our Mediaeval cathedrals. Conceived and built in the plain faith nurtured in the imagination of the middle-ages, these glorious symphonies in stone should not be left to the mercy of the casual
contributions of any one generation.