I first went into Charterhouse Chapel as a young boy to hear my eldest brother singing Fauré’s Requiem. My father, an Old Carthusian, was with me, as were my three other brothers. We all went to Charterhouse and we all loved that chapel. The sound of 650 (mostly male) voices booming out the strains of Jerusalem on the last day of term is not something that one can easily forget, but nor is the beautiful Amen that the (male and female) choir used to sing at the end of the intercessions, conducted by the legendary Bill Llewelyn. So it was an enormous pleasure and privilege to have been able to work on the latest edition of the Charterhouse hymn book.
Charterhouse has a very strong choral tradition – Ralph Vaughan Williams was an OC – and it was thus obvious that we needed a full music edition of the book for the choir. We also wanted the congregation to have access to the music, and so we produced accompanying full music and melody editions. This is always something of a headache for publishers, as the pagination of one book has to tie in with the pagination of the other, while trying to preserve the alphabetical or seasonal ordering of the hymns. A page turn in the full music book, where the words might be embedded in the music, might well be entirely satisfactory, but if this leads to a page turn in the melody edition, leaving the singer reading the words on a left-hand page with the music marooned on the previous right-hand page, then everything has to shift. Or vice versa.
Luckily we had the most amazing team working on the book, led by the Director of Music Mark Shepherd and the Rev Clive Case, and after what seemed like a never ending round of proof reading and amending and more proof reading, the books were finalised and went off to print. Clive Case was kind enough to give us the thumbs up about their first outing:
“We had the first outing of the new hymn books in Chapel this morning and received much positive comment. They look particularly smart, I think, and much less daunting than the last hymn book for the non-musical Carthusian attempting to sing. Many enjoyed singing ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ for the first time at Charterhouse!”
And returning to school last week for a Gaudy, I was able to see them in action in that lovely chapel, and once more to hear the mighty Jerusalem, booming out around the walls. And if my attention was ever so slightly taken up with checking the typesetting, frantically checking for typos, that’s just because I’m a publisher.