A GLASTONBURY ABBEY DREAM
I have created a 10 minute video that combines images drawn from Glastonbury’s history and mythology with the music of Thomas Tallis.
The snow photos were taken by me and I was listening to the Tallis music on headphones at the time. All of the rest have been drawn from Google images so I hope none of the photographers get upset about copyright issues.
I’m not necessarily a believer in the historical reality of the Glastonbury myths concerning Joseph of Arimathea and Arthur but I do feel that, in combination with the genius loci, they are a thing of great beauty, of soul poetry at the very least, and to enter into their mood can lead to profound exaltation.
Spem in Alium is one of the truly great treasures of British Music. It was composed around 1570 for performance by 40 voices.
Spem in alium nunquam habuiPraeter in te, Deus Israel
I have never put my hope in any other but in You, O God of Israel
There’s a passage in my Mysterium Artorius that explains something of the mood I wanted to create.
‘One piece of music has established itself for me as an ultimate soundtrack for a Glastonbury Abbey dream, in the process activating further my mysterious affinity for the idea of perpetual choir. It was Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis (who had provided Vaughan Williams with such magnificent inspiration), a composition for forty voices. Tallis was writing during the aftermath of the dissolution of the monasteries and his work seems full of a poignant nostalgia for a lost paradise. I have cultivated the feeling that an eternal form of Glastonbury Abbey exists on some other realm of perception. There, the monks continue their daily services. A celestial choir perpetually intones sacred prayers amidst this magnificent scene, as Grail light shines through the stained glass windows, infusing the place with supernal blessings. Spem in Alium completely catches the feeling of how I believe such a choir would sound. It was like the chanting of angels. I know that the liturgical recitations of the medieval monks would not have sounded the same. It doesn’t matter. Tallis takes me into a realm of unbearable beauty.’