Message from Canterbury (1944)

Posted by The_Elves

Message from Canterbury (1944) from British Council Film on Vimeo.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican Identity* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchMusicReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryReligious Freedom / Persecution

Posted August 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. David Hein wrote:

Thanks for posting this item. The faces are right out of Central Casting! This video made me realize I’d never heard Temple’s voice before. The voices of English preachers of that era are sometimes different from what an American has imagined them to sound like; I remember Leslie Houlden told me that about Austin Farrer’s—and he was right.

August 5, 10:40 pm | [comment link]
2. Terry Tee wrote:

David, what struck me was the impossibly strangled public school voice of Temple - again, like you I was taken by surprise.  Given his powerful social witness I imagined someone more centrally located among the vox populi.  Such are the changes in our society that it would be impossible for an incumbent of Canterbury to speak like that today.  Even David Cameron’s relatively mild Etonian tones have been an obstacle for him.

But what are we to make of seeing that great fraud Hewlett Johnson, the Dean of Canterbury for far too long (he is the one with the domed forehead, greeting the archbishop at the door; the archbishop cannot enter his own cathedral without the permission of the dean).  For the benefit of US readers, Hewlett Johnson was an unashamed enthusiastic apologist for Stalinist Russia, indeed wrote and spoke enthusiastically about it for many years.

August 6, 8:56 am | [comment link]
3. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

I hadn’t heard Archbishop Temple speak, nor had I ever expected to do so.  Tapes were so valuable in that era that almost all of the BBC audio from that time was recorded over again, so little survives.  I am blown away - I certainly had not expected to listen to a whole sermon.

It looks from the notes as if this film may never have been released but lain in the British Council archives for 80 years since it was shot in 1942/3.  It is amazing that it has survived in sufficient condition to be remastered and released with such clear footage and audio.  Some people really did speak like that at the time, though the language has changed in the meantime; the Queen still does.

It is hard to underestimate how important historically this remarkable footage is, and of course, timely when Canterbury is once again in danger, though perhaps this time from forces from within.

August 6, 9:00 am | [comment link]
4. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#2 Fr Tee - well spotted - it is indeed the red dean.

As for Temple’s accent, as I say the language as it is spoken has changed since the 1940’s - in my younger years I did hear some of the older generation [and not always from public schools or even very grand backgrounds] speaking like that.  Clear enunciation of language was something instilled into many children in schools before the war.  However, Temple may be speaking over clearly for three reasons: the need for radio broadcasting over long wave to over enunciate language to overcome reception difficulties, and people were trained in what came to be known as ‘BBC English’; the need to enunciate clearly with pauses between words to overcome the echo in many cathedrals and churches; Temple may have caught the speech patterns from his father Frederick Temple, who was also Archbishop of Canterbury.

August 6, 9:15 am | [comment link]
5. C. Wingate wrote:

This film has an interesting and somewhat obscured history, and the 1944 date given could be a bit misleading about the context in which the sermon was presented. In fact I would guess that most of the film shot was produced in the fall of 1942 and spring of the following year, after the Baedecker Blitz raids on Canterbury in May/June 1942. We should remember that while the worst of the Blitz was over by then, and the Germans were mired in Operation Barbarossa, but victory was by no means in sight.

August 6, 10:07 am | [comment link]
6. Terry Tee wrote:

Aspects of this film remind me of the fictional A Canterbury Tale by the the directorial duo Pressburger and Powell.  Both films are dated 1944, the Pressburger/Powell one being of course fictional, but showing, as does this Message from Canterbury, scenes of a rural Kent that even then was rapidly passing away.  Incidentally both films had directors who were refugees from Nazi Germany.  The UK prevaricated and created obstacles which the refugees had to overcome and they turned out to be just about the most gifted group that the country ever received, from Nobel prizes in science to art and architecture historians.  For the Canterbury Tale see:
PM, your explanation of the accent is I think spot on.  (All this about accents must be mystifying to US readers, but in the UK we know ourselves to be branded on the tongue at birth.)  (I was born here but grew up overseas until I was 25; 40 years later my fellow Brits still ask me where I come from.)

August 6, 10:35 am | [comment link]
7. TomRightmyer wrote:

Interesting changes in vestments in 70 years.  Notice the crucifer in tunicle and the apparals on the amices and albs of the acolytes.

August 6, 11:07 am | [comment link]
8. C. Wingate wrote:

Pm, the need for the rather slowed delivery hasn’t gone away. Even at the the National Cathedral, with its superb sound system and tech support, it is necessary to speak at a ve-ry de-li-be-rate pace to real-ly be heard well in the nave. I remember back in the late ‘80s when I was down there for some service or other the instruction to speak more “stately”. The very hard, sharp consonant production is very much emphasized in the British “public” schools.

Of course in this cynical era there is no bishop who could presume to speak with such magisterial authority and be heeded in the slightest.

August 6, 11:25 am | [comment link]
9. David Hein wrote:

No. 2: “that great fraud Hewlett Johnson”

Andrew Chandler and I talk about Johnson, Temple, and Fisher in our new biography of Abp Fisher, just out this month from Ashgate Publishing. I hope Kendall doesn’t mind the plug, but it seemed relevant.

And I agree with those on here who have said that somehow that mid-20th-c. history is especially relevant and interesting now as we look on what’s happening in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion today.

August 6, 12:09 pm | [comment link]
10. Saltmarsh Gal wrote:

Thank you for posting this.  The first part seems to be a tribute-love poem to the perseverance of the Church in England and reminded me (in tone) of the section of the Olympics opening ceremony   2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony  which starts at 20:00.

It was wonderful to see and hear William Temple.  What, I wonder, was the original purpose of the film—encouragement?

August 6, 12:16 pm | [comment link]
11. Terry Tee wrote:

David, I shall be interested to read what you write about Hewlett Johnson.  On further reflection I was wrong to describe him as a great fraud, because the most frightening thing about him was that he truly, sincerely, believed that the future had arrived in the Soviet Union and that it worked.

August 6, 1:06 pm | [comment link]
12. brian_in_brooklyn wrote:

Seventy years on, Archbishop Temple’s vision is still an inspiration.

Thank you.

August 6, 1:23 pm | [comment link]
13. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#6 and #8 Even given the slow delivery, it may be that because of the recording medium, technically the sound of Temple’s voice may have been distorted and he might not have sounded quite like that in real life.  It is hard to know, but yes, when you strip away the strange delivery to a modern ear, it is a very powerful and well thought through sermon, whether one agrees with all of it or not.

#10 Saltmarsh Gal

What, I wonder, was the original purpose of the film—encouragement?

Well the British Council is responsible for promoting culture and art and interchange outside the UK and to some extent for education in English.  It is independent of, but is funded out of the Foreign Office budget.  It has a similar role to that of the Goethe Institut for Germany or the French Institute/Alliance Francais for France.  I am not sure if there is a US equivalent.

The film-maker however does seem to have had a Christian and deferential approach aimed at mission and encouragement somewhat at odds with the aim of the British Council and this may explain why the film was never released, notwithstanding its propaganda value.

Having watched it again, I would have said its aim was to encourage, though it is realistic and serious in its assessment.  The main parts were filmed in 42/43 around the time that the battle scenes for Olivier’s Henry V were being filmed in Ireland.  The theme is similar - the need to remember who we are in the face of the enemy; the fact that this is not the first threat to have been faced; and the need to be encouraged to look forward to a better future worth fighting, and perhaps dying for.  In 1942 the end of the war was 3 years away and Britain was feeling rather alone.

Temple’s message is also for the Church to remember that it is not about the fabric of the buildings which can be rebuilt, but that it is the message which inspired them which is what matters and for the need to return to a missionary role in the church; that the size of the buildings has grown or shrunk according to the extent to which God has been placed at the center in people’s hearts.

The film shows the attempt to continue some pattern of normality in the midst of destruction, and notwithstanding the strangulated tones of Temple’s delivery and the ‘a’s pronounced like ‘e’s, after a while my ear adjusted to that, and what I heard was in spite of the rigidity of delivery, a very emotional and even a poetic plea and encouragement.

I am glad this has been rediscovered and restored, and I think my overall impression is that it is, in spite of being necessarily rather staged, yet realistic and moreover fascinating and a privilege to glimpse the world as it was in part when my parents were growing up as children in war and gives some small sense of what it was like.  It is a beautiful film, and a blessing.

August 6, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
14. Frances S Scott wrote:

First off, I watched this with tears streaming because I remember watching the news reels in the 1940s; the images are the same.

Secondly:  I could use a little help here; none of my Bible Study students have access to computers, let alone internet.  Is this available on DVD?  My class could sure benefit from watching it.

Thirdly, I just finished reading Charles Williams’ The Decent of the Dove, A Brief History of The Holy Spirit in the Christain Church (1939).  This film very well illustrates the persistence of the church…“the gates of hell cannot prevail aginst it”.  That point was not particularly emphasized in the film, but it was certainly evident.

Returning to point 2, what I am encountering in my Bible Study is statements such as, “God is calling a lot of people to move to Victor (another old gold mining town near Cripple Creek where we meet).  They don’t know why He is telling them to come but they are stockpiling food and other supplies to prepare for the ‘tribulation’”.  I think my students need to understand that there have been many times of tribulation in many places and that the end is not yet.  Most of them will be able to grasp that concept better and to have the confidence that Jesus is in charge of His church and will preserve her until the end of all things if they can see the film and hear the sermon recounting the history of the Church of England.

[Frances - you may be able to save this by going to the original Vimeo page here, then clicking the ‘Download’ button below the video and saving the original video in MP4 format to your computer or following the instructions here to download or by rightclicking on the video and selecting ‘save target as’ and then saving it to a particular directory on your computer.  Then if you have the facility on your computer you may be able to save the MP4 on DVD for your students, but remember the copyright mark at the end of the video and ensure you are within any educational exception or under the creative commons licence.  If unsure, it may be best to ask the British Council first for permission to use it in this way by going onto the original site and getting their contact details - hope this helps - Elf]

August 6, 2:11 pm | [comment link]
15. Karen B. wrote:

Wow, what an amazing find.  This film is packed with so much powerful imagery and symbolism… the shepherd with his sheep, the spire of the Cathedral and the cross standing tall and the bells ringing out as the all clear sounds, the Truth prevailing in spite of the forces of darkness and evil unleashed against it…  and the PACKED pews as the Archbishop speaks…. 

Really this is deeply moving, and a fantastic reminder of how spiritual leaders can speak out with authority in the face of evil and persecution.  I hope it sparks a fresh boldness and confidence in the truth of the Gospel among all who watch it.

August 6, 2:40 pm | [comment link]
16. Saltmarsh Gal wrote:

#14, Frances, The video is posted on Vimeo here.  If you click on the title you will see below where the video is, there will be a link that says Download.  Once you download it to your computer, you can probably burn it to a DVD if your computer is able to do that.  If you need to convert the format of the video to another format, you can get a free software program called YouTube Downloader (Free Version) which can convert between the various video versions.  Hope this helps.

August 6, 2:48 pm | [comment link]
17. Terry Tee wrote:

More on the context, which may be helpful.  The church leaders of the day were already thinking about what would come after the war, and there was a feeling that the nation would need a spiritual renewal to add to the physical rebuilding of its shattered cities.  Temple was a bold thinker, and his call for a Christian social order chimed in perfectly with the mood of the times.  In 1941 while still Abp of York he chaired a conference at Malvern which sought to discern the best way forward for the nation when peace was established, following the social principles that he lays down here in his sermon for a Christian social order.  If they sound a little socialistic to US people, remember that in the election of 1945 Churchill was swept from power and a Labour government elected that was innovative in its attempt to create a fairer, better planned society, and this was pretty much what the electorate was wanting.  Temple’s RC counterpart was Cardinal Arthur Hinsley.  They got on well together and despite the fact that ecumenical activity was, at that time, frowned on by Rome, they launched a movement called Sword of the Spirit in which Christians met together to plan for the future.  Alas, the Roman authorities took fright and the Catholic contingent had to withdraw.  Moreover Hinsley died in 1943, and Temple in 1944, his death following a stroke attributed to overwork and exhaustion.

August 6, 3:06 pm | [comment link]
18. Karen B. wrote:

Really helpful and interesting context and background info, Terry Tee, Thank you!

August 6, 3:08 pm | [comment link]
19. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#17 Yes, thanks Fr Tee.  Temple’s efforts didn’t completely die with him.  After the war in 1946 the church produced the forward-looking Towards the Conversion of England which sadly I have been unable to find a complete copy of online, although John Richardson has published partial extracts [bottom of left-hand column] and quite rightly bangs on about it from time to time. 

It is the sort of important report which should be on the Church of England website or the Church of England Evangelical Council website and the focus of what we are talking about.  Instead, it is nowhere to be found; instead we talk about nothing but bishops, as if that is our only priority: women bishops, gay bishops, civil-partnered bishops, bishops in the House of Lords, bishops’ palaces, bishops’ paintings…bishops, bishops, bishops.  It is utterly pathetic.  I suspect William Temple would have boxed our ears.

August 6, 3:43 pm | [comment link]
20. David Hein wrote:

Terry Tee: all true, but I would point out that Fisher was a better administrator than Temple (even at Repton, which both served as headmaster) and dealt directly with issues of spiritual and physical rebuilding during his tenure from 1945 to 1961. Of course, Fisher has his detractors.

Anyway, we talk a lot in the book about Hinsley, Sword of the Spirit, ecumenism with the Protestants, building the AC, etc. It is nice to hear that anyone else even speaks of these subjects these days! To be honest, working on a book like that can feel like a decidedly lonely enterprise—and can still feel that way when sales figures come in.

August 6, 5:47 pm | [comment link]
21. Frances S Scott wrote:

O.k., so I saved this to my computer as “my videos”.  When I try to play it back, I get the sound but no picture.  How did I go wrong?

August 6, 6:22 pm | [comment link]
22. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#20 David Hein
I am not sure that Temple’s record as an administrator really bothers us now 80 years on; but I was wondering since you have gone into his work in some depth, as a theologian and spiritual guide, may I ask if you think he has something to offer us today?

August 6, 6:37 pm | [comment link]
23. Jim the Puritan wrote:

There’ll always be an England.

August 6, 7:36 pm | [comment link]
24. David Hein wrote:

No. 22: “I am not sure that Temple’s record as an administrator really bothers us now 80 years on…”

A thought-provoking observation! My theological point is that administration can be a holy work, and, done badly, it can cause real problems for the troops in the field. And those mistakes—or those good moves—can be felt for decades. I honestly think that the current TEC problems reflect not only a theological failure but also an administrative failure.

“but I was wondering since you have gone into his work in some depth, as a theologian and spiritual guide, may I ask if you think he has something to offer us today?”

I don’t really know Temple so well, but since you were kind enough to ask, I’ll give an answer, and others more informed can give theirs: Readings in St John’s Gospel.

August 6, 11:41 pm | [comment link]
25. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#24 Thanks so much David Hein for having a stab at my question.  I thought I would ask as you are the closest we have here at the moment to an expert on the era, and have written recently on Fisher.

My theological point is that administration can be a holy work, and, done badly, it can cause real problems for the troops in the field.

I am sure that is right: “they also serve…”.  However, I was a bit surprised as administration is not the first thing that occurs to me as I think of William Temple.  I don’t know anything of his time at York save that he started the considerable feat of organising a conference for the church to look forward which led to ‘Towards the Conversion of England’, and that as a post mortem achievement must be quite an administrative feat. 

It also has to be said that it must have been administratively challenging for him at Canterbury when his churches were being blown up, parishioners were in foxholes or shelters, and clergy were occupied doing what they could to help, while keeping some sense of normality at services, and hoping they were not going to be bombed while doing so.  As for Fisher and Temple at Repton, well as most people who have been anywhere near them know, those sort of schools are in fact run by the headmaster’s secretary. 

In the circumstances, perhaps Temple does not come out as too bad an administrator, and perhaps as things turned out a very good one in providing the resources for the church and country after his death, had they been prepared to make the most of them.  Had he had the benefit of peace as Fisher did, perhaps history would have been kinder to his administrative ability.

I honestly think that the current TEC problems reflect not only a theological failure but also an administrative failure.

A very interesting thought, but one where I have to say I do not know TEC too well, others are better able to assess this than I am.

I don’t really know Temple so well, but since you were kind enough to ask, I’ll give an answer, and others more informed can give theirs: Readings in St John’s Gospel.

Yes, I gather his books on St John’s Gospel are brilliant and on my future reading list.  But I suppose that since you and Andrew Chandler have been looking at the era and some of the events of Temple’s time, I wondered whether you could provide as well a flat map, some idea of the relief of the terrain under the map through your eyes when I asked the question: ‘may I ask if you think he has something to offer us today?’

By way of encouragement of you in that question a friend and mentor wrote this to me: “He was the last Archbishop of Canterbury to speak consistently about the gospel directly, in simple language and with authority.”

I wonder if you would mind if I pressed you further for your thoughts on the question?

August 7, 9:04 am | [comment link]
26. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Perhaps it is only fair to explain why I asked the question.  Much as it was not the people taken out of Egypt who entered the Promised Land but their descendents, and the book of the law was rediscovered by a subsequent generation, I am not entirely discounting the possibility, that a message sent with some care and effort in 1942 but not delivered for 80 years, in God’s plan, has been delivered when and to whom it was intended, if that doesn’t sound too lateral and odd.  Just something I have been musing on.

August 7, 12:30 pm | [comment link]
27. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Our God is a God of second chances.

August 7, 12:32 pm | [comment link]
28. Katherine wrote:

Lovely film.  As to the accent, I am no expert in English diction, either then or now.  I was interested to hear the trilled “r” in his speech.  For American ears, listen sometime to recordings of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the same era.  We do not hear accents like his in public speech any more.

What touched me, as an American, was the sense of the history of the faith at Canterbury.  My father served in the Army Air Corps throughout WWII.  He heard those air raid sirens, and to the end of his days he hated the July 4 fireworks which whistled and then exploded.  He was Episcopalian and was very much comforted by worshipping in English churches in which the liturgy was so very near like what he knew at home.  This is something we have lost—as have Roman Catholics, now that worship is in different tongues and takes, in the Anglican case, many different shapes.

May God bless and preserve His church in England, in His good time.

August 7, 2:02 pm | [comment link]
29. David Hein wrote:

“‘He was the last Archbishop of Canterbury to speak consistently about the gospel directly’”

He was much better than Fisher in that respect. We have something to say about the contrast in our book. I am not trying to advertise it—but I just can’t think of another book (except of course the Bible) that would make a better text for a parish discussion group, a Christmas present, a bulk order to service personnel abroad…...................

August 7, 4:13 pm | [comment link]
30. Terry Tee wrote:

I am surprised that PM would not credit Michael Ramsey, a man of great and personal faith in Christ, with speaking the gospel directly.  I think that Donald Coggan would have been surprised also to have been excluded, an evangelical of conviction, even if not err the most dynamic of preachers.

August 7, 4:37 pm | [comment link]
31. David Hein wrote:

We included some wonderful Donald Coggan material (as well as Ramsey, Temple, et al.) in our Spiritual Counsel in the Anglican Tradition book—which, come to think of it, makes a much better Christmas etc. gift than Archbishop Fisher: Church, State, and World!

One reader (maybe a reviewer—I am not sure) thought Coggan perhaps should not have been included in the book. But I disagreed. Some of the most memorable material in there is by Coggan: very moving, clear, pastorally helpful pieces.

August 7, 4:41 pm | [comment link]
32. William N. McKeachie wrote:

The England to which I moved in 1952 at nine years of age reflected even then, more than seven years after Temple’s death and the war’s end, the world and church so powerfully captured, even or especially in black and white, by this quintessential British Council production. The school in which I was enrolled had a required elocution class to ensure that neither Cockneys nor Yankees should fail to speak as the Queen and her Archbishop and the BBC did! Our school chaplain preached in just the style and tone heard from Temple in this film. Although Geoffrey Fisher was no William Temple in either physical or philosophical stature, I recall him embodying, as Temple so authoritatively does in this film, that assured ethos—at once imperial and familial, bucolic and yet “metropolitan”—with which in word and picture this “Message from Canterbury” is so quaintly imbued. In my own time, the “Red Dean” was still in place and, for all his political gullibility, when he read from one of the Old Testament prophetic books at Evensong it seemed as if the prophet himself were at the lectern. Temple’s “sermon” in this film does not entirely do justice to the author of “Christus Veritas” and “Nature, Man and God”—let alone “Readings in St John’s Gospel”—but it does convey his unapologetic (capital ‘C’) Christian (small ‘s’) socialism. How did we get from then to now? My own view is that it must have something to do with the abandonment of apparelled amices!

August 7, 5:16 pm | [comment link]
33. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#30 Thanks Fr Tee
Well, as my friend put it in the complete quote I gave at #25 above, for those who came after him Michael Ramsey,  Donald Coggan and others , the big difference is that William Temple spoke about the gospel consistently, directly and in simple language.

#29 David Hein
“I am not trying to advertise it” - why not?  I am sure no one would mind, and it would be good to hear more from you having studied the people concerned.

I have just been reading the tributes given in the House of Lords following Temple’s death here including that given by the Archbishop of York and his predecessor as Archbishop Cosmo Lang who survived him - genuinely moving.  As the Archbishop of York put it:

no man ever insisted more strongly that it is the Christian religion itself that must come first. I do not think it can be denied that his great influence was largely due to the fact that there were multitudes of his fellow-citizens among all classes and types, and not least among the young, who were eagerly waiting for such a message, delivered with his force and clearness, and it was their ready response to it which perhaps more than anything else gave him a most remarkable leadership.

August 7, 5:24 pm | [comment link]
34. David Hein wrote:

“My own view is that it must have something to do with the abandonment of apparelled amices!”

And my own guess is that your view is a bit broader than that! But great to hear from you, William, and to learn about your experiences—and I trust you’re doing well!


August 7, 5:35 pm | [comment link]
35. Sarah wrote:

A lovely and poignant video.  A few random thoughts:

—Temple looks very much like one of my favorite Episcopal priests.  His face is quite cherubic.

—I like the detailed history lesson, recounting the assaults of the wicked upon Canterbury and by extension, the Church.

—Since I believe that state-collectivism is intrinsically and deeply flawed, not to mention immoral, obviously I cringe over his pronouncements about how great it would be for the government to guarantee us all lots of goodies like, uh . . . “holidays”—along with individual liberty!  Obviously you can’t have the State indulging in central planning and also have individual liberty; the two are antithetical. Once the state guarantees “holidays” it must perforce take away liberty. 

Ah well.

I recognize that there are readers who think central planning is the bees knees, so I’m certainly not trying to convince anybody.  I just marvel at the dreadfulness of the scheme Archbishop Temple promoted and am awed by its catastrophic results; England has never recovered from the disastrous collectivism post-WWII that its people chose and its government inflicted.  Periodically it offers a few spasms of resistance, then sinks ever deeper into even worse government machinations and liberty-strippings.  Again—those who value central planning won’t agree—that’s fine.

—Accents have been one of my life-long interests—Archbishop Temple’s was not nearly as rigid and precise as some of the old tapes I listed to and imitated during voice and diction classes, theater work, and acting classes in school. I had braced myself for something exceptionally strangulated but was pleasantly surprised. 

I’m not sure that in those days people instinctively “bridled” over “educated accents” as they do now, as if somehow the possessor of an accent that indicated a certain level of education and status also somehow meant that that person believed himself to be “better” than another.

Now we all have to be down home and folksy so as to pretend as if we’re all like everybody else.  I’ve been amused at the tut-tutting, for instance, over Ann Romney’s dressage horse [please note: I don’t like Romney and I won’t be voting for him, so this isn’t an advertisement for Republicans]. Since when is it a dreadful thing to have an excellent horse or to have the wealth that is usually involved with having an excellent horse?  Answer: when we decided that we all were egalitarians; excellence and success get to go fly a kite and we can all be mediocre together in comfy solidarity, while clucking over anyone who dares to leave and strike out for something better!

I simply love accents of all stripes and countries, particularly enjoying various accents of a country’s specific regions. You really can figure out even the states that people are from here in the US—the home-grown Alabama accent is so different from, say, Arkansas, Mississippi, or South Carolina.  My heart still sings when I hear an older Mississippi accent—so affected by the mixture of the races, too.  And the mountain accent of SC/WNC too is fascinating. Tomorrow I will most likely be seeing a Mr. Jack Spearman who will work on my drains—and he is the possessor of an almost unintelligible regional Southern accent that is fast dying out. I would love to record him for posterity and attempt to make those marvelous and intriguing sounds. 

—I think Archbishop Temple’s voice has a fine timbre and tone, very mellow and rolling, which you can hear if you don’t think about the diction.

I really enjoyed watching the video. 

Er . . . [heavy sigh] . . . [clenched teeth] “Thanks, elves.” [strangled sounds]

Your compliment is warmly welcomed.

August 7, 6:36 pm | [comment link]
36. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#5 C Wingate

I would guess that most of the film shot was produced in the fall of 1942 and spring of the following year, after the Baedecker Blitz raids on Canterbury in May/June 1942. We should remember that while the worst of the Blitz was over by then, and the Germans were mired in Operation Barbarossa, but victory was by no means in sight.

I have been trying to work out when the sermon was recorded.  The opening sequences are confusing, showing apple blossom [early May], apples a bit later, and hop picking which would take place during September.

However, the sequence showing 2 men in their Sunday best going to church at 8:42 have flowering chestnuts or horse chestnuts behind them which would mean early May on, and the flowers in arrangements at 9:16 look like those of Spring/early Summer yellow and white including what look like some daffodils at the bottom, as do those behind and above the High Altar at 8:55 and on either side of the Archbishop at 10:31 and what look like daffodils above the small altar at 12:23.  There are a lot of exterior scenes showing beech trees only just in leaf [Spring] though some shots are later in the Summer.

The walk of the Archbishop from the Old Palace to the Cathedral at 10:00 gives little away except the long shadows which suggests early or late in the year and perhaps early in the day.  The light is clear and bright.  There are flowers on the right and possibly daffodils or crocuses under the tree on the left.  If so it would have been early May or towards the end of the daffodil season.  Those in the cathedral are dressed for warm weather although there are hats and gloves and some raincoats as would have been usual.

At 13:52 the Norman Staircase is shown, but the tiles are in disarray and missing, and there is stone debris on the ground which has not yet been cleared so the bombing must have taken place very recently when the pictures were shot.

We are told the Sermon/Message was given in 1942, and the bombings of Canterbury were in May 31; 2 June and 6 June 1942.
Although there is footage shot at different times, the shots taken showing the sermon suggest Spring and May 1942, and the profusion of flowers even that it could have been Easter [there would have been probably no flowers during Lent?] although if it had been Easter one would have expected a mention. 

Based on the above, my guess would be that the sermon was given around the end of May/early June 1942, but given the flora, not much later than that, so it was probably pretty contemporaneous with the bombings, which gives the whole thing a poignancy and urgency, which may explain some of its passion.

Another interesting question is the illustrations used in the film which suggest a good artist.  Are they at Canterbury, in an archive or with the British Council?  It might be interesting to know because they are quite good and probably by a known artist.

#35 Sarah

Since I believe that state-collectivism is intrinsically and deeply flawed, not to mention immoral, obviously I cringe over his pronouncements about how great it would be for the government to guarantee us all lots of goodies

I think one has to remember the time and the absense of things even normal non-socialist Americans regard as normal:
- education - it was with the 1945 Education Act that universal educution to high school level including compulsory Christian education came in as part of an attempt to banish the illiteracy of a substantial part of the population and ensure people were equipped for the modern world.
- working conditions and health and safety.  There was little regard for health and safety previously and people were regarded as expendible [with the death rates to prove it] in heavy industry, ship building and mining.  There was no right to any time off work although Sunday was normally respected, but not always, there was no right to even the 2 weeks a year Americans are used to.
As you can see from the footage, agricultural work was extremely hard.  Due to the fuel shortages, old horse-drawn vehicles and ploughs were brought back into service in the war.  Even the US from early on has accepted the need for these without ever becoming ‘socialist’.
- housing - the domestic housing stock in the cities was destroyed in large areas of the cities and had to be rebuilt.  There was no way of doing this for those who were homeless or for the troops returning from war without massive central action.  The wartime economy was of necessity a planned economy with rationing, identity cards and enormous ministries.  That is just what has to happen when an entire country has to go on a war footing with invasion not far off and shortages of almost every resource.  In fact during the so called socialist years after the war, this centralised planned economy put in place by Churchill during the war was gradually dismantled.  Almost the last thing to go was ration books.

I do agree with you about resources, although Christian stewardship of the world’s resources is indeed a valid Christian perspective including on the environment rather than a rights-based socialism.

The unionisation of labor was initially for good reason; but as you mention it broke the back of British industry in the 60’s and 70’s and pushed us to the economic brink as shipbuilding, mining, car production, shipping and so on in which we had been pre-eminent were all driven into the ground.  It was with the Thatcher government, the ending of the union hegemony on industry and the relaxation of exchange controls and liberalisation of banking and services which brought us back to solvency and to, for a while, being the world’s fourth largest economy [we are 6th or 7th at the moment I think, thanks to Messrs Blair and Brown].

August 7, 9:05 pm | [comment link]
37. Terry Tee wrote:

Pageantmaster:  you deserve a gold medal for that sleuthing regarding the date of recording.  Avec palme for your excellent thumbnail sketch of the socio-economic background.
I want to add just one more thing:  the brief shot of hopworkers.  This reinforces what you say about urban poverty.  The system was this:  East Enders from the poorest area, often slums, of London, would come down each year to the same hop farms.  They would live in long huts and harvest the hops.  It was high summer, and was the nearest equivalent they would get to a holiday.  They were in the country, there was a communal kitchen, sing-songs around the fire, and the fruit of the hop ie beer would be liberally consumed.  East Enders had many warm memories of these working holidays and the strong sense of community.  Even then they were not without benefits of religion; Franciscans, both RC and Anglican, went on mission to the hop-pickers, and simple catholic revivalist services went on in the hopfields by night, the friars I think helping them pick the hops by day.  All by arrangement with the farmer.  Only 80 or so years ago, but a vanished era.

August 8, 6:32 am | [comment link]
38. sophy0075 wrote:


Completely off topic (but not offensive, Elves!),
If you love accents (I do too!) read David Hackett-Fischer’s book “Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America,” in which (amongst other things) he discusses how the geographic locations in England and Scotland from which American colonists emigrated influenced the regional American accents.

Back on topic - what a wonderful, evocative video. An England that is as gone and as distant as Pluto.

August 8, 11:23 am | [comment link]
39. Sarah wrote:

Ooh—thank you sophy0075!

August 8, 1:13 pm | [comment link]
40. Jim the Puritan wrote:

Sophy—Yes, accents used to vary a lot more than they do now.  Here in Hawaii our accent once was a sort of cross between a British accent and a New England accent (reflecting the fact that our early immigrants were sailors, whalers and missionaries from those two areas).  Very common in my grandparents’ generation, but you almost never hear it now.  And impossible to describe but very easy to recognize if you hear someone speak with it.  Probably the closest example you will hear nationally is Sen. Daniel Inouye.  Here are a couple of examples, recorded perhaps 50-60 years ago:

Now people pretty much speak with a standard American Midwest / California accent.  My feeling is it is the combination of TV and Americanization of culture here, especially since Statehood.

I personally can put on the Hawaiian accent if I want to (which is different than “pidgin,” which local folks can also speak and understand), since that is the way my family spoke when I was growing up, but usually I just go with the flow and speak with the standard American accent.  You will mainly hear it now when certain Hawaiian families have a gathering/reunion and then people will lapse back into the accent.  And in the way certain old-school Hawaiian pastors will preach from the pulpit.  (Notice how I slyly and very poorly tried to bring my comment back on topic at the last moment.)

August 8, 2:45 pm | [comment link]
41. Terry Tee wrote:

I don’t think it matters at this stage if we go way off track.  Jim I tried the first of those two and was amazed at how English the accent sounded.  At least there is a historical explanation.  But can anyone explain to me why Eleanor Roosevelt sounded so British?
See/hear (less than a minute in length):
BTW I think she was an Episcopalian ... just to follow Jim above in wrenching us back onto track ...

August 8, 3:03 pm | [comment link]
42. William N. McKeachie wrote:

Thank you, David Hein, a blast from the past, Baltimore Declaration days and all that! I do hope we’ll see you back at Mere Anglicanism (on the Person and Work of Christ) next January, the “save the date” announcement of which was recently posted on T19. Thanks to Jeffrey Miller’s leadership, these conferences are at least as timely and substantive as ever, next year’s especially so in the wake of the non-Biblical, non-Christ-centered anthropology behind GC trends and tendencies. Apart from my facetiousness about liturgical curiosities, it is noteworthy that William Temple, whose early reputation (thanks to “Foundations”) was more Hegelian than hyper-orthodox, stands and speaks in this cinematic period-piece with the kind of implicit Christological conviction that seems to elude his current successor (whose own Hegelianism was so acutely pinpointed by one of our 2011 Mere Anglicanism speakers, Charles Raven, published in the TESM festschrift for Bishop Fitz Allison); alas, it might even and ironically be said that in the current C of E Jesus the Christ seems to have “gone the way of all flesh” to a degree unimaginable in the context of Temple’s primacy. And your biographee Geoffrey Fisher’s inaugural sermon as Archbishop, I seem to recall, was the kind of forthright apologia for the faith and doctrine of the C of E—as nothing more nor less than classic, ecumenical Chalcedonian orthodoxy—that has been as discounted, discarded or deconstructed in twenty-first century Anglicanism as have apparelled amices and the use of the Athanasian Creed!  Even if we can’t bring back Temple or Fisher, perhaps Mere Anglicanism can provide you with a book table and a signing opportunity in January. It would be great to have you with us again.

August 8, 3:19 pm | [comment link]
43. John Richardson wrote:

This thread has probably gone dead now, but I’ve just managed to catch up with it. In assessing Geoffrey Fisher I do think it is relevant that he was the only Archbishop ever to have been a Freemason. See here. Whilst the writer of this article (naturally) thinks this was a wonderful thing, my own assessment would be rather different.

Certainly one commentator described his revision of the Canons rather than the implementation of ‘Towards the Conversion of England’ as a “a glaring example of mistaken priorities” (Donald Gray, review of Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury 1945-1961, by David Hein, in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, [2008] 59:801).

August 31, 6:01 am | [comment link]
44. David Hein wrote:

The book that’s reviewed doesn’t deal with GF’s Freemasonry—BUT the new Chandler/Hein biography of Fisher has an excellent section on his affiliation.

August 31, 10:40 am | [comment link]
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