MUSIC LOST AND FOUND (continued)


"The Friends":

The American branch of the Friends of St. Paul’s Cathedral was established late in 1964 at St. James. Incorporated by the rector, Rev. Paul D. Wilbur and the associate rector, Rev. Canon H. Kilworth Maybury, a board of trustees was formed and included the beloved and talented choir director and organist, Beatrice Fisk, and Mrs. Neil (Joan) Humphreville, who is still an active parishioner at St. James.
It came about this way, as, by happy coincidence, a good idea was converted into a fait accompli. The chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Rev. Canon Frederic Hood, was invited to preach one Sunday at St. James during a visit to America. There he renewed a longstanding friendship with the associate rector, Canon Maybury, a fellow Englishman. It was as a result of discussions between these two prelates that the formation of the American branch of the Friends, with St. James as its headquarters, came about.

Because of their connection, St. James Church was deemed the logical site for the American chapter of the Friends. Furthermore, St. James is distinguished among American Episcopal churches as the seat of the first American Episcopal bishop, Samuel Seabury; and the parish has been in active existence since its founding in 1725 (only twenty years after the completion of Christopher Wrenn’s magnificent edifice in London, and when residents of Connecticut were still British subjects). Although St. James’ first building was burned – along with the rest of New London – by the British in 1781, the colonials have long since forgiven the Mother Country, if not the dastardly traitor who aided her in this act, Benedict Arnold.

Like St. Paul’s, St. James is an urban church, dedicated to the rich history and tradition of Anglican faith and liturgy, to the music that has been the earmark of Anglican worship since Tallis and Byrd composed for the new Church of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and to the community of which it is a part.

For some reason, the festival service at St James planned by The American Friends of St. Paul’s Cathedral, to seal the new relationship between the American church and the English cathedral – and to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the founding of St. James – was postponed until January of 1966, and the canticles which Robert Powell had been commissioned to compose for the occasion were not used at the rescheduled service. And so for forty-one years they lay in silence, awaiting discovery . . .

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