Monday, September 21, 2015

ALICE BORN | 150 Years Old—the Book

It's the 150th Anniversary of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The author was a Christ Church don who signed himself Lewis Carroll.

A few hours ago I had the pleasure of attending - with Alice Tepper Marlin and my nephew Chris Oakley - the Choral Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral.

It was an occasion of some historical importance.

First, there was an exhibition within the cathedral in honor of Alice in Wonderland.

Second, the Evensong itself was a glorious hour and a half of choral music and congregational singing, with a newly instituted girls' (ages 7-24) choir - the Frideswide Voices, based at Worcester College. I was told that the choir is so named after a medieval girls' choir and that today was the first time in 1300 years that a female choir has sung in Christ Church Cathedral.

The Worcester Senior Organ Scholar, Benjamin Cunningham, played the organ. The Frideswide Voices choir was conducted by Will Dawes.

One of the original illustrations of Alice 
by John Tenniel.
The communal hymns were "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones," "By All Your Saints Still Striving," and "All My Hope on God Is Founded".

The choir sang Psalm 119, the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (both from St. Luke), and "How Beautiful Are the Feet" (Handel). I was surprised that on the feast of St. Matthew, none of the readings was from St. Matthew.

The exhibit honoring Alice - and especially the Mad Hatter character in the book - is of sculptures by Peter Eugene Ball.

The sculpture that Ball is holding is a tribute to the illustrator of the original Alice in Wonderland, John Tenniel.

One of the nearby sculptures by Ball is in the Merton College Chapel. It is is of "Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom" and was commissioned in 2014.

I was especially interested in that because there is a college in Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada called Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom Academy.

My niece Christine Schintgen is a dean at the college. Christine, this post is for you!


  1. Thanks for the post, John! I remember going to Choral Evensong at Christ Church once or twice while I was at Oxford. Very beautiful.

  2. I thought you would appreciate the sculpture by Ball of "Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom"!