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

Address Given on Empire Day – Summer 1916

By H. M. BAGNALL
Let me remind you first why this day, May 24th, was chosen for the Festival of the Empire. It was Queen Victoria’s birthday, and when she died it was chosen that she might be commemorated always with the Empire which grew to such greatness in her long and wonderful reign. The Colonies had long kept it with enthusiasm as Victoria Day; slowly we have risen to the appeal to join them in making it a yearly Commemoration of the Empire. This year, 1916, for the first time, even the Government is keeping it, and the flag is to fly on all Government buildings.
Salisbury has kept it several times, before the war broke out, but last year it was not kept, on account of the war. Why, then, keep it this year? Just because we have a clearer sense of the tremendous emergency, and we know we must rally every ounce of will and faith and hope to carry through what we have undertaken. Our great Poet of the Empire, Rudyard Kipling, sends us a message this morning.
“When Germany challenged us nearly two years ago to uphold with our lives the ideals by which we professed to live, we accepted the challenge, not out of madness, nor for glory or for gain, but to make good those professions. Since then the Allies and our Empire have fought that they may be free, and all earth may be free, from the intolerable domination of German ideals.
“We did not foresee the size of the task when it opened. We do not flinch from it now the long months have Schooled us to full knowledge, and have tempered us nationally and individually to meet it. The nations within the Empire have created, maintained, and reinforced from their best the great armies they devote without question to this issue. They have emerged, one by one, as Powers clothed with power through discipline and sacrifice, strong for good by their bitter knowledge of the evil they are meeting, and wise in the purchasable wisdom of actual achievement.
“Knowing as nations what it is we fight for, realising as men and women the resolve that has been added to us by what each has endured, we go forward now under the proud banner of our grief’s and losses to greater effort, greater endurance, and, if need be, heavier sacrifice, equal sponsors for the deliverance of mankind.”
There it is. The whole British Empire knows to-day that it is in for a struggle of life or death; that we must stand shoulder to shoulder, all the world round-our men in the front line, we women and girls supporting them by every means at any cost.
And our rallying flag is The Flag that is flying all round the world to-day: the Flag that
“Has braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze”
The flag of LIBERTY – shown BY the blue of the sea and the air, the freest things we know: and the flag of LAW – the law of self-restraint for the sake of the liberty of others: for the red and white Crosses lie over the blue.
It is so delightful that our School motto means just those two things’ for which our Empire stands – “Franc,” that is free, “Leal”, that is Loyal, law-abiding.
How glad we feel when we see our flag flying to-day, that it does not display an Eagle, Mighty and relentless, keen and terrible. a bird of prey!
And how inexpressibly sad it would be to have a motto like that of the poor misguided men who have caused such bloodshed in Ireland! “Sinn Fein” – “ourselves alone,” what a hopeless and ill-omened war-cry!
But our Flag displays the Cross, and the Cross is “I” crossed out, myself ignored. It is life poured out, first by the Great Captain of our Salvation, then by all who have followed in His train – St. George of England, St. Andrew, St. Patrick, St. David, and all the noble host of heroes and heroines who have given their lives, down to those whom we ourselves have known and loved.
This is what our Empire has to stand for as a province in the Kingdom of Christ – sacrifice for the cause of brotherhood and union. The arms of the crosses of our flag stretch to all points of the compass, and they all meet in one centre. Our Empire stands to bring “more life and fuller” for all peoples, and our flag is a perpetual reminder that that can only come through sacrifice.
In the stirring words at the end of a leading article in to-day’s Daily Telegraphy, “let us not forget that there come great crises in the lives of individuals and of States in which it is rood to be alive. The sacrifice may be heavy, but the privilege is greater still – the privilege of showing ourselves men, the sacred trust which is put into our hands of saving not only ourselves, but humanity at large. Empire Day is a time for high resolves, for unflinching courage, for obstinate endurance, for all those virtues which, giving us a foremost place in the records of civilisation, fortify our stability and safeguard our future.”
That, then, is the call of Empire Day. In the Market-place down below you will stannd with some 2000 other boys and girls – most of them so much poorer than you in the things that make life easy and jolly, and, as we say, “worth having” to you, and yet they too are giving for the great cause their fathers and brothers. Lots of them are saving their pennies by going without sweets, or giving up a visit to the Pictures, which is the gretest pleasure they have. There is no question of “classes” in this war
“Groom fights like noble, squire like knight,
As fearlessly and well,”
and we stand or fall together, we here at home, our men at the front, and our fellow Britons over seas too.
The flag we shall salute in the Market-place was sent to the children of Salisbury by the children of an Australian Salisbury, and a flag which Godolphin helped to send has been flying to-day at a school in New Zealand. We are one to-day in sacrifice under the flag of Liberty and Right; and as we salute it let us renew our vows to be worthy of it – remembering those other great words of Kipling:
“No easy hopes or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul,
There is but one task for all,
For each one life to give.
Who stands if Freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?”