Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Too many words

After today's midday Eucharist I attended the annual Holocaust Day memorial event in City Hall. This year's event was jointly organised by the WAG and the City Council, and the place was full - over four hundred people. I'd heard on the grapevine that the organisation of this year's event was something of a nightmare, running way behind schedule. There were a few un-announced changes from the printed programme, but the whole thing ran smoothly throughout.

It is always a serious wieghty sort of occasion, but this year it was also lengthy - over a hundred minutes in fact, with five speeches, (mostly of good quality) several poems, declarations and lengthy readings as well as musical items - too long altogether. I heard a lady behind me whisper to her husband "If only there was less talk and more music." I wasn't sure about some of the poetry either. None of it was familiar, all of it required a degree of study and re-reading to have its full impact in context.

Fr Stuart Lisk, as a Council advisor on events and ceremonies of this kind, acted as host/animateur, with his usual dignity and discretion. Some of the material was certainly crafted by him, and has been used on other occasions, but I got the impression that the overall direction of the event was not in his hands, or else it would have been much more concise. There were some nice symbolic moments, but these were in danger of being stifled by being sandwiched in among so many words. How often is this also true of a churches and their liturgies?

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