Divine Beauty Indeed by Vivienne Arnold
It is more than sixty years since I first saw the beautiful Burne Jones Windows in Birmingham Cathedral, after moving to Birmingham from Leicestershire on marriage to Michael. There is always something new and special to discern, however often you study these wonderful works of art.
A vivid memory is of a Son et Lumière evening in the Cathedral back in the eighties, as I remember, given by Richard Pascoe and Barbara Jefford, who were leading actors of the time, particularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The chancel windows were floodlit from outside the darkened Cathedral, showing the detail of the windows in stunning clarity as beautiful words and sounds echoed inside the building. It was a magical evening.
I love to see the gentle glow from the building's interior lights falling on passers- by in the square after nightfall, as an evening service or concert or choir practice is in progress, bearing steady witness to God's presence in the city.
Above all, the depiction in the windows of Christ's nativity, death and resurrection has been the sacred background to our family's many years' privileged journey as active participants in the life of the Cathedral community. Many baptisms, ( twelve of our eighteen grandchildren were baptised in the Cathedral ), confirmations of our children and godchildren, weddings, and the funerals of my eldest son Timothy, and of my husband Michael, have been huge spiritual milestones in our family life. Timothy moved on to serve after he lost his treble voice, and was the crucifer at the installation service of Bishop Hugh Montefiore as Bishop of Bitmingham. Michael served faithfully as Churchwarden for several years. He was a self-effacing man of competence and integrity.
Our three sons as choristers became familiar with the beauty of the Windows from their places in the choir stalls, as did my youngest daughter who was the first
girl to become a server, in the time before girls joined the choir.
It is no wonder that these astonishingly beautiful works of art have had such a deep influence on our spirits. Divine Beauty indeed.