The Jacobean Chronicle
Vol.19, no.3 December 2012
VALE STUART BARTON BABBAGE
It was with much sadness that the Jacobeans learned of the death of their patron, Dr Stuart Barton Babbage. This larger-than-life character originally came from New Zealand, studied at Auckland University College (then a part of the University of New Zealand) and received his MA in 1936. He travelled to London, studied for the ministry and, because he was still too young for ordination, enrolled in a PhD at London University. After ordination he worked in a parish on the outskirts of London during the Battle of Britain. The church and vicarage were bombed but without loss of life. In 1942 he became an Air Force chaplain and it was while serving there that he met his wife, Elizabeth. They married in 1943. They had 40 years of married life together. She died shortly after his retirement from New College in 1983. They had four children.
In 1946 they came to Sydney where Stuart became “a Diocesan Missioner” for the Anglican Church. In 1947, at the age of 30, he was appointed Dean of Sydney. In 1953 he was appointed as Principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, a post he held until 1963. In 1953 he was also surprisingly asked to combine the role of Dean of Melbourne with his role at Ridley. He held the post of part-time Dean until 1972. He performed many teaching roles, especially in the USA, much of his time was spent at Columbia, teaching Apologetics and Church History. He was later invited to take up the position of President of Cornwall School of Theology, a position he held until appointed as second Master of New College at the University of New South Wales. While there he also assumed the role of Registrar of the Australian College of Theology , a role he kept until 1992. When the then Dean of Sydney, A.W.Morton died, Stuart returned to his ‘old job’ in an acting capacity until a new appointment was made.
In retirement, he was very active and a great supporter of the Jacobean Singers – until very recent years coming to most of our concerts. In his 90s he started to slow a little (but refused to accept a passive role). He was at the Jacobean’s farewell dinner for Walter Sutcliffe and mentioned that he was still taking on locum tenens positions in the Eastern suburbs. Walter remembered one of those ‘substitute’ roles at All Saints Woollahra. There was one word which was frequently heard from the pulpit and always with a chuckle. The word was "religiosity". As Walter said, “This is a word that can be used in several ways, but I am sure that Stuart used it in its unfavourable sense - an affected or excessive devotion to religion which can lead to intolerance. That he chuckled when he used the word reveals quite a lot about him. He did not allow himself to become angry when confronted by such attitudes, but simply preferred to point to their folly in a gentle way. “
Jacobeans in Goulburn
On Saturday 27th October there was added traffic on the Hume Highway with various Jacobeans (some with partners) heading for Australia’s oldest inland city and its wonderful Blacket cathedral. There was to be a rehearsal at 2.00 pm. “Be early rather than late!”, Catherine had asked. The rehearsal was important because we had never performed with this organist before and there were a few problems to sort out as regards tempi and suitable registrations. They were sorted out – which is what rehearsal is all about – and then there was a break for choristers to go back to their motel rooms or billets.
The recital began at 7.30 pm in front of a small but attentive audience. The first half included shorter pieces, some popular items such as Rutter’s “For the Beauty of the Earth” and Bach’s “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” but there were also pieces which the Goulburn audience may not have heard before, such as Laurisden’s “O Magnum Mysterium” or Palestrina’s “Exsultate Deo”. The “Cantique de Jean Racine” by Faure was suitably lush (even if some of the choristers have not quite mastered French pronunciation) but Bruckner’s “Ave Maria” on a chilly night in a gothic cathedral was absolutely memorable.
The second half of the concert was Mozart’s “Coronation Mass”. The mass was not written for the coronation of a Hapsburg but rather for the crowning of a statue of the Virgin. It involves the young Mozart being rather more dramatic than would seem necessary for such an event but the Jacobeans had put a lot of work into this performance and the setting brought home how wonderful it can be performing church-music in a church.
The soloists (from the choir) were worthy of note. While Amanda Muir maintained the high standard we have all come to expect of her (no surprises there), Jia-Lin Yang (tenor) and Allan Redpath (bass) showed talents which even their colleagues in the choir had not suspected. They both need to be looked out for at future concerts.
The following morning, it was back to St Saviour’s Cathedral to take part in the Communion Service with the cathedral choir. “Darke in F” was the main fare with Stanford’s “Te Deum” (the one used for Edward VII’s coronation) and Malcolm Archer’s “And I saw a New Heaven” as the anthems. Goulburn (whose choir is a bit weak in the male department – well, it is country NSW) must have been astounded at the strength of what they heard that morning.
After that, everybody piled back into their cars and headed for home. What a wonderful way to pass a weekend!
Changes to Jacobean Committee
At the AGM held on 7th October, various changes were made to the distribution of offices of the choir. Catherine Nash now combines the roles of Music Director and President (which almost takes us back to the practice of Walter Sutcliffe’s days) and Stan Warren is Vice-President. John Maxwell (who has retired once before) was replaced as Secretary by Gillian Davies and Spiro Giannotis was succeeded in the treasurership by Genevieve Michael. Patricia Dunn remains Public Officer.
The new committee consists of the office bearers plus Jan Giannotis, Amanda Muir, Alan Redpath and Peter Roberts. Gillian Davies (who, in her old role as Vice-President had to chair the meeting since Peter Roberts, the former president, was in Greece) paid especial tribute to John Maxwell’s many years of work as Secretary and Choir Manager and moved a vote-of-thanks from the chair. The membership heartily endorsed this and are grateful to John for all that he has done for the Jacobeans.
Activities other than Goulburn
As has become (almost) a tradition, the Jacobeans were at St John’s Gordon for their Remembrance Day Evensong on 11th November. It had been a busy time because the last weekend in October had taken the choir to Goulburn and then, on 4th November, we had joined with the All Saints Woollahra choir for their patronal festival.
There was another evensong, this time at the Garrison Church at ‘The Rocks’, in Sydney on Saturday 24th November. (Incidentally, the celebrant was the Rev. Keith Dalby from St John’s Gordon – so no problems with familiarity.)
Since then, the choir has been concentrating on their carol service at All Saints Woollahra on Sunday 16th December. After that, we will have a ‘Christmas Break’ (i.e. a short period for “R&R.)