Pageant of Empire – Christmas 1916

A Pageant at the Godolphin! That was, indeed, a new idea to most of us, and it was with feelings of eager expectancy that we thronged into the Hall on that memorable evening. Here we found many changes, for the windows were covered by three great Union Jacks, and the platform was decorated with flags of every variety, making it very gay and festive. Many hands had been at work, and before we left the Hall we realised that much thought and much energy had combined to make an impression which should not quickly fade. We felt that this could not have been brought about without the infinite pains bestowed by Miss Prosser on the designing and grouping, by Miss Atkinson and Miss Lavender on the music, by Miss Eastgate, Miss Lucy, Miss Westlake, and Miss Bagnall on the training and coaching of the girls who took part.
At the opening of the Pageant we sang “0 God, our help in ages past,” immediately followed by the National Anthem. A passage had been made down the centre of the Hall, and up this a procession now slowly made its way, and thence on to the platform.
It was Britannia who passed us first, in white robe, and mantle of imperial purple, her helmet glittering as she passed into the brilliant light. As she seated herself in the midst, the rest of the procession grouped themselves near by. England and Scotland were on the one side of her throne, Wales and Ireland on the other, whilst their respective standard-bearers took up their positions immediately behind. The Chorus, in long flowing robes of deep blue or violet over brilliant rose, formed a striking background of vivid colour.
And now came the Colonies, one by one, with appropriate and sug­gestive music, to greet Britannia and to declare their loyalty, and as each made an end of speaking one of the Chorus came forward and answered with a poem of greeting. Each Colony was followed by four little attendants bearing gifts, beautiful little figures forming a very attractive part of the Pageant.
We saw Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, in white robes and golden coronets, India and the Malay States in native dress, and South Africa, land of brilliant sunshine, in the brightness of her golden robe. . . . And so we watched them pass, imperial and stately until, last of all, came the West Indies, completing the world-wide embrace of Motherland and Colonies.
Up to this time the atmosphere had been one of peace and prosperity, with only a vague threatening of future trouble. But now we heard the Serbian National Anthem, and in a moment we were caught up into the tumult of war. Out of the gloom carne the sad figure of Serbia, who, advancing slowly, knelt before Britannia with bowed head and unsheathed sword.
Then followed broken-hearted Belgium, shrouded completely in black-fit emblem of a mourning nation. Kneeling before us, she made an impassioned appeal for help. “I cry for succor! Will you heed it not?” Then, rising, she flung back her gloomy cloak, and the red and yellow of the Belgian colours flashed suddenly upon us in all the brilliance of their glowing contrast.
Suddenly we heard the familiar battle-cry, “Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!” Whose voice could it be but that of France, echoing to-day the three-fold watchword of the First Republic?
Whilst the choir sang the most beautiful of all National Anthems, came stately Russia, full of courage. and hope. Then Italy and Japan brought up the rear, and completed the dazzling scene. It was a harmonious blending of vivid colour, pink and gold, green and purple, crimson and black, with a, background In which were mingled red and white and blue.
And while our eyes were enchanted our hearts were thrilled by words of dignity and impressive stateliness. The speeches did much to create the atmosphere of solemnity and true patriotism which characterised the Pageant throughout, and we were all very grateful to Miss Eastgate, who wrote them.
But now the Pageant was drawing to a close. We rose to sing Kipling’s Recessional, after which a procession was formed once more. Slowly, slowly, it passed down the brilliantly lighted Hall, a blaze of colour, fading gradually into the sombre shadows, and thence moved into the sunset light of the garden, where another Pageant unfolded itself, making a very beautiful and impressive ending.

P. GEORGE.

PROGRAMME

HYMN
National Anthem

Enter
BRITANNIA AND PROCESSION
PROLOGUE: “Pro Patria” Owen Seaman.

Enter CANADA.
POEM “A Song of Canada” Robert Reid

Enter AUSTRALIA
POEM “Advance Australia” Andrew Lang

Enter INDIA
POEM Indian poem written two centuries ago Fakiri

Enter SOUTH AFRICA
Enter NEW ZEALAND AND MALAY STATES
POEM (S.A.) “South Africa” Kipling
POEM (N.Z.) “Battle of the Free” Bowen
POEM (M.S.)The Children’s Gift ” Noyes

Enter WEST INDIES
POEM “The Flag of England” Kipling
BRITANNIA

SERBIAN ANTHEM Enter SERBIA
RECITATION “Kossovo Day” (taken from the Serbian Liturgy)

BELGIAN ANTHEM Enter BELGIUM

MARSEILLAISE Enter FRANCE

RUSSIAN ANTHEM Enter Russia

Enter ITALY and JAPAN

BRITANNIA

RECESSIONAL Kipling

PROCESSION

Advertisements