A time of silence.
The haunting sound of Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ carried over the school grounds. In the Rose Garden ranks of soldiers and nurses stood still against the backdrop of St Augustine’s Priory while ‘Nimrod’ called us all, pupils and staff, to attend, to observe.
Seniors drifted in groups and gathered in front of the roses and the Juniors surrounded the statue of Jesus, whose arms are perpetually outstretched to bless the school and all within. Lunchtime – normally a time of laughter, games, running around. But on Thursday 8th November 2018 at St Augustine’s Priory it was a time of waiting.
The sound of silence.
The Bursar stepped forward and read ‘To Germany’ by Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895 – 1915):
You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
But gropers both through fields of thought confined
We stumble and we do not understand.
You only saw your future bigly planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each other’s dearest ways we stand,
And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind.
When it is peace, then we may view again
With new-won eyes each other’s truer form
And wonder. Grown more loving-kind and warm
We’ll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.
Five girls then stepped forward in front of the assembled school and recited monologues composed by Caitlin Parry, Lower VI. Words of a mother, a soldier, a young man rejected for military service, a nurse, a young woman – all rang out across the green grass. Speaking about their experiences, their loves, their losses.
For the girls gathered there neither their fathers nor even their grandfathers were thought of at the time of World War One. These young women were all born this century, miles and years away from the mud of Flanders, but they all stood in remembrance, hearing words composed by one of their own calling back to over a century ago, compressing time and calling forth the agony of a long dead war.
The monologues over, as the last post sounded the waiting soldiers and nurses trooped in pairs down the centre of the Rose Garden and through the gathered girls, past the statue of Jesus, down the hill through the grounds and away.
Out of our lives and into history.
The prophet Isaiah 51: 6:
‘Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.’
To watch the commemoration, please follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt8st17lMqI&feature=youtu.be
Footnote: On 21st September 1915 the community of the Augustinian Canonesses Regular of the Lateran took possession of their convent and school on Hillcrest Road. On 13th October 1915 Charles Hamilton Sorley was killed at the Battle of Loos, aged just 20 years.
Ms Hagerty, Director of Priory 6 and teacher of Drama has reached out to local schools offering our costumes for any World War I commemorative event they have planned. There are 100 children’s soldier and nurse costumes for ages 10 – 12 and some for ages 11 – 13 which we are glad to offer.Categories: Faith Life Junior Nursery Prep Priory Post Senior Sixth Form The Association Whole School