For any regular readers of this blog (yes, I mean you, Mum), I apologise for the lack of posts over the last couple of months. November was wildly busy; December has so far been spent catching up with all the things I neglected to do in November; and now, with only one working day left before Christmas, I am getting seriously demob happy, which means reading is taking precedence over writing as a way of getting anything done.
If anyone is eagerly anticipating more random First World War thoughts, please be assured I am working on a response to David Mitchell’s column about poppies and I am also fighting a battle with some new ideas about gender, subjectivity and cultural history that are emerging from that reading that I mentioned. If I ever manage to work out an even mildly coherent intervention on the subject, that too will be on here.
In the meantime, I leave you with an early Christmas present, gleaned from yesterday’s edition of Radio 4’s ‘A Cause for Caroling’, on the origins of the celebration of Nine Lessons and Carols. I had not previously realised that King’s College, Cambridge service, probably the most famous version due to its international broadcast by the BBC, was first held on Christmas Eve 1918 at the instigation of Eric Milner-White, Dean of King’s College and a former army chaplain who had seen service in the First World War. As part of the service that he adapted, from an earlier one created by Edward White Benson when he was Bishop of Truro, Milner-White wrote a new bidding prayer that was described in ‘A Cause for Caroling’ as ‘the last war poem’. It was with the words of that prayer that yesterday’s programme ended:
‘let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore, and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom in the Lord Jesus we are for ever one.’