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Song of Barking

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The Song of Barking

Tony Clifford

The Song of Barking was sung as part of the Epilogue of Barking Pageant on Thursday 8th October 1931. The Epilogue was probably the most important scene in terms of the ethos of the celebrations. All the characters already portrayed in the 11 scenes of the pageant marched in, accompanied by other Barking worthies. According to one account, the song was performed by “the People of the Past and Present, chanting their paean of praise to the Future”. When the Song of Barking was over, the People of All the Ages knelt and with hands raised aloft sang Oh God our Help in Ages Past, a hymn by Isaac Watts paraphrasing the 90th Psalm. At the words “Time like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away”, they rose and faded from sight. Then, carried on the shoulders of the men of Past Ages, with the Saints still leading and the Social Services following, the new Borough of Barking, hailed by the Charter Mayor (Albert Edward Martin), Town Clerk and Councillors, who followed the Spirit of Progress, passed triumphantly on its way amid the acclamations of Past and Present who raised the great cry of “Long Live Barking”, and the Song of Barking was sung by the assembly.
Henry Carey (1687-1743) was a poet, dramatist, song-writer, satirist and patriot, several of whose melodies continue to be sung today. Frederick Woodhouse (b.1892) was Musical Director of the Pageant and produced this arrangement of Carey’s Gregorian constitution song (1735). I have been unable to find out much about Woodhouse, other than he was a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and founded the National Federation of Music Societies with Sir George Dyson in 1935.
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© Tony Clifford
June 2017
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