The Sunday School Anniversary

In my last posting I was talking about memorising poetry when we were in school. It reminded me of the Sunday School anniversary at Park Terrace Methodist Church. This was a very important occasion and a lot of effort was put into it by the staff and the children of the Sunday school. For about two months we were expected to attend a practice every Wednesday evening at the church to practise the hymns and rehearse the items we were going to perform at the anniversary; some sang solos and some recited poems.

Horace Webb, who was the conductor of the church choir, also conducted the rehearsals. He lived at the bottom of Bridge Street just around the corner from the church. We always had a small booklet published by Ernest Nichol’s company. I assume it was still being run by someone else at that time as Ernest Nichol died in 1928. During his lifetime he wrote about 130 hymns and the music.

On the outside of the booklets it proclaimed that the music was written by Ernest Nichol and the words by Colin Sterne. We were told that they were the same person, Colin Sterne being an anagram of Ernest Nichol. One of my favourite hymns of his was “We’ve a story to tell to the nations”. It had plenty of “go” and we all loved singing it.

The Sunday before the anniversary, normal Sunday School was abandoned in favour of the full rehearsal. The great event took place the following week when we would have special preachers and there would be services in the morning, afternoon and evening with a packed church full of church members, friends and parents.

When I was 10 I was asked, for the anniversary, to recite Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”. You probably remember it:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; 

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you

But make allowance for their doubting too . . .”

When I studied art in college, I also studied calligraphy so it is unsurprising that I made a calligraphic design of Kipling’s poem which now hangs on my study wall.

I also wrote my own parody of it for someone passing their driving test.

If you can pass your test when all about you

Are failing theirs and making quite a fuss,

If you can drive back home, alone, unsmiling,

While all the others have to go by bus . . .”

I don’t want to take up too much space by printing the whole poem.

My son was the first to receive a copy when he passed his driving test many years ago. As I wished to incorporate his name in the poem it meant making an amendment in the last four lines. Many other friends have received copies over the years. It’s amazing how influential in my life has been Park Terrace Sunday School all those years ago.

 

Incidentally, if anyone would like a copy of my parody to send to someone who has passed their driving test, just email me and I’ll include a copy in my reply. If a lot of visitors want a copy I’ll be justified in printing a full copy on this blog.

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