* By which I refer to Prince Charles’ (for young William and his petit-bourgeois arriviste succubus bride are music-illiterate barbarians, we are led to believe) tracklisting for the wedding ceremony, rather than Prince Harry’s tracklisting for the Buckingham Palace disco, which just isn’t important at all. *
The principal lessons what we learnt from this morning’s ceremony’s medley can, and have already, been summarised thus: Prince Charles’ music taste makes the racist character from Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters’ Club's passion for Ralph Vaughan Williams look positively culturally adventurous, what with its apparent refusal to acknowledge a musical tradition even existing outside of the United Kingdom. That being said, the presence of so much 20th Century music (Britten, Elgar and the much less ubiquitous Percy Whitlock, whose Organ Sonata in C Minor was heard just before all the opening processionals etc. began) was, from Charlie CONTEMPORARY = EVIL Windsor, pretty out there I guess. The decision to frame the service with two Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (or maybe it’s Hastings Hubert Parry) belters, ‘I was glad when they said unto me’ and ‘Blest pair of sirens’ was a pretty good one. The custom-built fanfares were pretty rad. And so on.
And so I am, instead, with this briefest of analyses of the Royal Wedding Playlist, going to focus on one thing, and one thing only – a subject not so much close to my heart as embedded in it against my will, like a pretty, pretty splinter, thanks to a childhood spent singing in a church choir. Singing, that is, this ghastly arrangement of the already vile ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ pretty much every other week.
I refer, of course, to John Milford Rutter, CBE, schoolmate of Tavener, founder of the Cambridge Singers, controversially agnostic purveyor of the most successful, and least ambitious, choral music of the 20th century. An Einaudi for god-fearing choir folk, basically.
So anyway, Rutter composed an anthem especially for today’s service, a stirringly conventional composite of three or four psalms (starting with 118) that sounded like nothing so much as something that a big-lunged innocent would weepingly bellow at a studio audience whilst handing Andrew Lloyd WorstFaceEver a pair of twinkling kitten heels for him to fondle, sympathetically, whilst pissing all over 19 wide-eyed young ladies’ (utterly misguided) hopes and dreams. Actually, I exaggerate. There was one thing ‘This is the day that the Lord hath made’ sounded a bit more like than that. Namely, EVERYTHING ELSE THAT JOHN RUTTER HAS EVER WRITTEN.
I was sitting with my parents, father making the customary lewd remarks about Pippa Middleton, when the familiar strains of a Rutter arrangement arpeggioed their way into our consciousnesses. We were all certain we recognised it. Mother even said something along the lines of, ‘I wonder why they didn’t get him to compose something especially for the service.’ And then Huw Edwards announced that what we were hearing was commissioned as a wedding present for Willz and his bit of rough. And it wasn’t long before words like ‘charlatan’ and ‘mountebank’ were being thrown around in between sips of Prosecco, like so much accusatory confetti.
Rutter’s audacity is, was extraordinary, nothing less. Consider ‘This is the day that the lord has made’, which you can listen to/watch here (and please, for my sake, note in passing the bewildering similarity between chancellor and choirman at 3:09). And then reflect on the fact that the first part of this NEW WORK sounded, sounds exactly like this:
Whilst the second part sounds very much like this:
And the third part sounds even more like this:
And all three parts sound precisely like this:
And this, on the marriage-day of a future king of