Thursday, August 23, 2012
When We Were English, Part XIVL
by Glenn N. Holliman
The Hymn of Abbots Leigh
In 1942, England was fighting in the third year of World War II. The Americans had entered the war but had their own serious troubles in the Pacific. The Soviets faced the bulk of Hitler's armies. The British Army struggled with Rommel's African Corp, and Nazi U-Boats sank record numbers of ships off the U.S. coast and throughout the North Atlantic.
After the 1940 Blitz, the British Broadcasting System had moved its wireless service from bombed out central London to Bristol, a long stone's throw from Abbots Leigh. As Internet references state, the BBC needed a new melody for a popular inspirational hymn that up until then had been set to the same tune as 'Austria', a German speaking country then incorporated into the Third Reich. Such just would not do during wartime.
A BBC composer, Cyril Vincent Taylor, an occasional Precentor of Bristol Cathedral, lived near Abbots Leigh, and composed in those dark days of 1942 a new melody. He named it 'The Hymn of Abbots Leigh'. Christians throughout the world know it best by the name "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken". One likes to think that the Hollymans sleeping in the Holy Trinity Church grounds might in their slumber have heard echoes of this joyful anthem. Below, a Hollyman gravestone in Abbot Leigh.
The fields of Abbots Leigh have for hundreds of years provided excellent crop and grazing land. The farm house below is where ancestors of Hollymans have lived, including Sheila Wallace Cooper, whose mother, Caroline, descended from the Hollymans.
Next the Hollymans of Clevedon....