My Grandad had a herd of Friesian dairy cattle. Each evening they would be brought into stalls for milking, should there be a delay they would stand in the yard and let out cacophonous bellows. Anyone who has been near a cattle market will know what a noise they can create, if they are minded.
My Grandad’s cattle came to mind this morning at a funeral. No more than a few yards away was a girls’ choir with beautiful, clear soprano voices, a sound that would have soothed the soul, if you could have heard it. Unfortunately, I was in the midst of a block of around forty clergy whose sound was closer to Friesians than angels. Each hymn was bellowed out, drowning out every sound around. Being told at the age of 23 that I could not sing, I tend to lip synch hymns; this morning I would have been quite content to listen, had it not been for the cattle market.
The only time that the girls’ choir could be heard was when the notes soared skywards, or when they sang descants – angelic hallelujahs rose above the bovine drone. There’s a lesson there somewhere, I thought, as we sat for the sermon.
Maybe that beauty is something that has to be looked for, that it’s not always obvious; maybe that beauty rises above the dull and the mundane; maybe that we can allow our world to become devoid of beauty if we allow those who shout the loudest to dominate everything.
I should be concentrating on the sermon I thought. He was a good and righteous man. He was a man who loved beauty, who filled his cathedral with beautiful sound. He would have been proud of the faultless singing of the requiem by the two choirs.
I hope when I die, there aren’t too many clergy there, at least not ones that remind me of country towns on a Saturday