The Elgar Anniversary Service
On 23rd February 2009 a Mass and Wreath laying ceremony remembered the 75th anniversary of the burial of Edward Elgar O.M.
The 2009 Homily by Fr. Christopher Calascione
"In the recent splendid book on Madresfield, I was surprised to read that Elgar was cremated and his ashes scattered in the waters of the Severn. As the indignant incumbent (although that is not how I signed my letter) I wrote to correct this error and was assured in reply that it would be corrected in the paperback version. In return I do recommend you buy the paperback, because it is an excellent read.
Judging by the regular flow of visitors to our cemetery, many people are better informed about Elgar’s burial place than the author of Madresfield. We are grateful to the Elgar Society for their help in maintaining the grave, and to Mrs Jill Bradshaw and Dr Geoffrey Bradshaw for their personal time and attention to it. The late Jean Aitken, who died last year, left us a generous bequest for the maintenance of the cemetery. However we will not be putting up the sign someone saw recently in a cemetery saying. We are working to make our cemetery a safer place.
Visitors to the church sometimes ask us ‘Did Elgar worship here?’. I suppose the honest answer is ‘Not much.’ Or at least not in the ordinary way of worship. Apart from other considerations, the Elgars had moved about a good deal. Then too, like any great artist, Elgar had his share of the groaning of the spirit of which St Paul speaks in our first reading. The ways of coming to faith are almost infinite. We all grapple with our understanding so as to find the answers our hearts look for. The more our hearts have an inkling that there are indeed answers - or one might say in those moments in life when we perceive there must be an answer - the harder the grappling and the greater the groaning. There is a parallel in our faculty of sight. We cannot see the micro-world of atoms, nor beyond the horizon, we certainly cannot see more than the mere shining of the moon and the stars. And so we have devised microscopes and telescopes to aid our vision, at least partially. Art - and music - are full of the promise of what lies beyond our ken, and on occasion they may act like the optical aids which show us a little more of the mystery of being. But they always leave us looking for more and for the greater truth.
The words of Christ in our gospel reading are reassuring in our grappling with faith: the will of him who sent me is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me. ‘All that has been given to me’, means us: we who have been brought to him by our tradition, scripture, and church. ‘Whoever sees the Son and believes in him’ is our inkling and vision, still in a glass darkly, but one day face to face. As St John says elsewhere: for then we shall be like him, because we will see him as he really is."