Master's Installation Day 17th July 2008
Thursday the 17th July was a dull and overcast day with the occasional fall of light drizzle as Members of the Company gathered at the Church of St Botolph without Bishopsgate for the installation of the new Master, Peter Harrow, for the years 2008 - 2010.
For the backroom staff the day started early with the Clerk arriving at 10 o'clock to supervise the arrival of the caterers, The Cook and Butler, and liaise with the Beadle, Paul Tredgett, regarding the laying out of the gowns. The Trumpeters together with the Choirmaster and Choir arrived and soon afterwards held a final rehearsal before the Stewards for the day, Liveryman Ray Scott and Liveryman Norman Gooding organised themselves to give out the order of service and show the congregation to their seats.
The Officers of the Company then arrived with their ladies to be gowned before picking up their nosegays for the photographer Mr Michael Sullivan to take a series of photographs for the Company records.
At 11.30 precisely, the choir having taken their seats, the service started with the Marshal ringing a bell followed by the Choir singing the Introit. The Court followed by the Chaplain the processed to the front of the Chancel for the Installation of the New Master and Wardens overlooked by the Clerk.
Once the Installation was complete the Chaplain, the Reverend Doctor Alan McCormack, blessed the Master. On completion the service began with the rousing hymn 'All People that on earth do dwell'. After the versicals and responses the Choir sang a metrical version of the 23 Psalm to the tune Crimond. The Master read the Lesson from Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians which was followed by all singing the hymn 'Love Divine, all loves excelling'.
The Chaplain then read the Intercessions which were very moving and were punctuated with the words 'under the strength of the bow' they were concluded with the congregation reciting the Lords Prayer. The Choir then sang beautifully an anthem based on the Jubilate Deo (Psalm 100) followed by the bidding prayer.
Following this the Chaplain then climbed in to the magnificent pulpit and gave a very uplifting sermon, the text of which is at the end of this article. A rousing rendition of 'Guide me, O thou great Redeemer' then followed during which a collection was taken. After which the Chaplain gave the Blessing, the choir then led the congregation in the singing of the Knights Prayer. The service was concluded with two verses of the National Anthem after which the Choir and Officers of the Company retired.
On leaving the Church more photographs were taken before moving the Fan Makers' Hall for Lunch.
In the Hall the Master and Wardens took position at the entrance to receive the Company's guests. As people passed through, they were given a glass wine and mixed with their friends. At 1 o'clock the Beadle announced lunch and everyone took their place and once in position the Chaplain said grace. Guests were then escorted to the buffet where they were invited to partake of Guinea Fowl with Forest Mushrooms and Leeks and Chardonnay sauce or Billingsgate Fish Pie with vegetables accompanied by a range of salads. This was followed by Lemon and Lime Cheese Cake served with compote of red fruits or English and Irish Cheeses, all washed down with Louis Alexandre, Vin de Pays, wine. Coffee was then served with some delicious Chocolate Truffels. The new Master then made a speech of welcome and thank the Deputy Master, Mr Richard Model, for all the work he had done on behalf of the Company in the preceding two years highlighting in particular the magnificent charity event the Archery Competition between the 'Lords and the Commons'. Mr Model then made a short response and presented the Master's Ladies Broach to the new Master's Lady, Karin Harrow.
The party then rose from the table and a number then retired to Gow's Wine Bar in Broad Street and continued to socialise in a more informal setting.
The Worshipful Company of Bowyers Sermon - The Revd Dr Alan McCormack, Rector
Let us now praise famous men and our fathers
that begat us
What is tradition? What is it precisely that we come together in such marvellous livery to celebrate and to commemorate today?
We are here to give thanks to Almighty God for the work and the witness of the Worshipful Company of Bowyers and to seek the continuance of his generosity and blessing in the life of the Company.
Today we have recalled Saint James, imagined as a sort of 'protector of the craft' and a little earlier in this ceremony we have called to mind the good example of those charitable benefactors, men like James Wood, whose work contributed much to the wonderful fellowship of this Company.
Today we have made and are making a bridge from the present into the past. Today we are celebrating an institution whose life is bigger and broader and larger than merely the sum total of its assets and its membership. The Worshipful Company of Bowyers, like those other venerable and worshipful companies in the City of London, is what it is today because of all those liverymen of the past, names we remember and names we do not -the decisions they took, the time they gave, the resource they enabled, the commitment they displayed, the fellowship they both created and enjoyed. Today Master, Assistants, Members of the Livery, Freemen, you stand as the inheritors of a deep body of tradition that it is now your responsibility to cherish and to advance amid the uncertainties and difficulties and challenges of this very modern world.
I am the still quite new Rector of this Church and when I arrived from Dublin barely 18 months ago I was intrigued and delighted to discover the association between St Botolph's and the Bowyers. It was indeed brought home to me when the Lord Bishop of London stood in this very pulpit and declaimed, 'Poitiers, Crecy, Agincourt!". We have both been around for a very long time, we are both of us the result of what has gone before, we are both of us in the position of negotiating with care and with reflection the course we should chart in current waters.
History, they say, is the democracy of the dead, the place and the arena wherein those who are no longer with us get to have their say. Classical Christian theology makes much of this in a teaching called the 'Communion of Saints'. An idea that can seem rather remote in its abstraction, all puffs of smoke and statues of alabaster, is actually very near in describing the situation we both of us find ourselves in. For both of us, The Church and The Company, are strangely anomalous in our modern world.
We are two institutions that privilege community and fellowship, that privilege 'being to-gether', in a world that promotes the heroic, and sometimes callous, individual. We are two institutions that look to our past as something valuable in the determining of our future. We are not prepared to believe that what we do now should stand in no relation to what has brought us to this point in our history and in our story. We see ourselves as standing within that story and, at any given point in time, helping to tell it. We believe in the value of a tradition and an ethos, a way of doing things, a way of being, a way of living, however difficult that may be to identify or describe. We believe in that certain generosity of character and of spirit that reaches out to those outside.
In so many respects we stand against the current of our modern world but in so doing we can give a great gift to that world- we can image and pattern an alternative way. You are a Worshipful Company, you are a group of people who have chosen, like so many before you, to come together for friendship and fellowship, for the promotion of your ancient trade in its new guises and for the extension of your many good and charitable works. You are none of you 'out for yourselves', you show us what a wonderful and noble thing it is for a diverse group of people to grow together in a community of affection and tradition and action and love.
Today we celebrate the past, we do not worship it. We receive the past as a gift, as a witness and a guide as to how we will imagine and create our future. That future is, finally, in God's hands, may he bless and prosper your new Master and the whole of this Company in every good work of its imagining.
Let us now praise famous men and our fathers that begat us.