Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cherry Ripe

Cherry ripe, cherry ripe
Ripe I cry
Full and fair ones
Come and buy
Cherry ripe, cherry ripe
Ripe I cry
Full and fair ones
Come and buy.[i]           - Robert Herrick

Alfred could hear Mother warbling in the kitchen, “Cherry ripe, cherry ripe;” an old English song sung to a melody composed by the 19th century composer Charles E. Horne.  In her day Mother had a fine mezzo soprano voice, but now in her seniority her voice was deeper, but perhaps that was just because it was long since she had done much singing.

            “Well, well, well,” said Alfred to himself, “I wonder what’s up?  It’s been ages since I’ve heard Mother sing, and I must say it is very pleasant to hear.”

            Mother came bustling into the solarium wheeling the Paalman Tea Cart laden with her Royal Doulton Tea Set, some McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits, and a cheery china cherry bowl filled to the brim with bright red Regina cherries.

            “I’ve been thinking, Alfred,” said she, “That it is just going to be wonderful to have the Choir over for an old fashioned hymn sing in mid-October.   Not only is our Choirmaster William Weaver going to be in attendance, but Father Goodfellow is coming and he’s bringing his wife Cecelia.”

            “That is good news, Mother,” said Alfred.  “I couldn’t help but overhear you singing Cherry Ripe in the kitchen.  Have you given any thought to joining the choir?”

            “Well, Alfred, I had, but you know when I was young I sang Soprano, although I was a little more comfortable in the Mezzo Soprano role, however I’m not sure that I would enjoy singing Alto at this stage in my life.  After all the Choir doesn’t need another Ima Hatchett competing with the sopranos and I think the choir is probably better off without me.”

            “Are you sure you wouldn’t consider it Mother?” asked Alfred.

            “Alfred, quite sure, but I do have something else in mind.  Grace Whittington has just joined the Altar Guild, and she says they are looking for another person.  I’ve never done anything quite like that before, although I did take a course in floral design years ago.”

            “The Altar Guild, Mother? I say,” said Alfred, “that’s quite a step Mother.  What is involved?”

            “Grace tells me that the Altar Guild is divided into four teams, one team for each Sunday, That means we would serve once a month.  We would set up the Altar before the service, and take care of everything after the service is over.  Grace and I would be on the same team.  There is an Altar Guild training day on October 19th.  There is even an Altar Guild Prayer.  I tucked it away in my Prayer Book.”

            Mother hurried out of the room and returned a minute later, and said, “Alfred, listen to this,

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst accept the ministry of faithful women during your earthly life; We pray you to accept and bless the work that this altar guild undertakes in the care of your sanctuary. Grant us a spirit of reverence for your house and worship, your Word and Sacraments, and preserve in purity and holiness our own souls and bodies as living temples of Your presence. Amen.”

            “That sounds wonderful Mother,” said Alfred looking somewhat mystified, but silently he said to himself, “I wonder what’s going on with Mother?”

[i] Robert Herrick 1591-1674

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