In my last post I mentioned the visit I made to St Davids in October. It is a place that draws me in and holds me close; by its very design and plan the city lends itself to strolling, an activity that encourages peaceful reflection. In this post I offer a look at another place that lifts the spirits and feeds the soul: the cloister at New College in Oxford.
One evening I arrived in college early enough before Evensong to take a slow walk through the recently restored arcade of the medieval quadrangle. From across the way floated the pristine sound of the choir rehearsing in chapel and, closing my eyes momentarily, I was taken back to the summer of 2017 when I launched the first edition of The Templar's Garden and its accompanying album, Like As the Hart, in that very place. I am deeply moved and greatly appreciative of all those who worked with me on the first phase of the project; in particular, Robert Quinney, the boys and men of the Choir of New College, Antony Pitts and Alexander L'Estrange.
As I later sat through the lovely service of Evensong, having taken a seat in my favorite place (across the aisle from the counter tenors), I gave thanks and praise that night for the chorister boys and their families who were in attendance. During the singing of the Psalm I was reminded of how grateful I am to the academic clerks and lay clerks who have become dear friends over the past few years, for their talents and gifts and the hope they inspire in me as they do in others who hear them sing. With my spirits soaring from the heavenly sounds I heard swirling and circling all around me, I wished their singing would never end. There was a feeling of concern and optimism conveyed in their melodies that stirred my heart. And that is when I realized the truth in the message that evening. At some stage, everyone can benefit from a little help and hope, whether offered by a stranger or a friend: why not take a moment to share a little of both with one another? Wouldn't life be gentler and our co-existance more manageable if we all made such an offering of sacrifice and love for each other?