Provide a soundtrack to creatures in the cathedral of medieval Britain

SALISBURY, England (AP) – David Hall is not a doctor, nurse or ambulance driver, but wanted to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. So he did what he does best: he sat on the bench near the historic organ of Salisbury Cathedral and began to play.

Hall is one of the many people who have transformed the 800-year-old cathedral into a large vaccination center in south-western England as the UK races over 50 million people. Their contribution to this effort is to offer the public as Bach, Hendel, and even a little Rodgers and Hammerstein as they shuffle through the nave to get their shots.

“In times of crisis, people come together and want to listen to music; In moments of joy, people want to listen to music, ”Holiday, the cathedral’s music director, told The Associated Press. “And so I don’t think it’s the effect of soothing music on people who are probably feeling quite stressed for various reasons.”

Salisbury Cathedral, home to one of the best-preserved copies of the Magna Carta and the Spire, England’s tallest church, is listed as an immunization center as the government has designated football stadiums, convention centers and hundreds of local doctors’ offices Expanded its shot schedule to speed up. .

Hundreds of elderly residents roll up their sleeves and put their shots in the great drain, enough to gather people together, while also keeping them safely separated.

This is in contrast to 1627, when church leaders closed the doors of the cathedral to keep the people of the city out as a plague through Salisbury. The dean of the cathedral, Canon Nicholas Papadopulos, says he celebrated the 800th anniversary of the building last year.

Now, it is time for a new chapter.

“If these stones could speak, they would talk about moments of incredible joy and moments of incredible sadness,” Hall said. “It seems perfectly reasonable that the cathedral is playing its part in trying to turn things around and be part of vaccination … being part of this is such a privilege, such an honor.”

The UK plans to give the first dose of the vaccine to more than 15 million people by mid-February as it targets the oldest and most vulnerable residents of the country in the first phase of the program. Groups of progressively younger people will follow suit, with the government’s plan to reach more than 18 people by September.

The need is immediate. The UK’s healthcare system is staggering, as doctors and nurses battle COVID-19 more contagiously.

While new infections appear to be at a peak, the number of hospitalized people is still increasing. More than 39,000 patients are being treated in UK hospitals, up 80% during the first peak of the epidemic last April. Britain has reported 93,463 coronovirus-related deaths, more than any country in Europe and the fifth largest toll worldwide.

Endeavor at the Cathedral is a community one, consisting of many. Organists took over two hours to play the role of “Father Willis the – largely.”

John Challenger, 32, assistant director of music for Salisbury, said many of the shots are old people who are isolated and have not been able to listen to live music for months.

In addition to playing soothing music, Challenger used his time to entertain the organ and arouse memories by playing songs such as Mendelsohn’s “Wedding March”.

“In more frightening moments I played ‘I Don’t Like to Be the Seaside,’ because you know, we all want to go on vacation and not be able to go where we want,” he said. .

Wednesday’s listeners were 82-year-old Sylvia Parkin, who accompanied her husband David, 86. He has been living at home for the last 10 months, which is no fun.

“It’s a trip today, isn’t it? Cheer he said happily.” It’s a wonderful place to inject one. “

And while this organ could go a long way to the scaffolding, people managed to get their requests.

Hawles played Handel’s “Largo” and Bach’s “Jesu, the Wish of Man” for an 80-year-old neighbor who sent an email to his favorites to be played at 10:45 am Saturday. Demanded, as the needle was leaving. Is in

As Halls finished, he glanced at the screen, which showed the organizer what’s happening on the floor below and saw his neighbor waving horrifically – windshield wiper style – and thanking him.

“He later emailed me and he said that it was the best part of his entire life except for his wedding day,” Hall said. “I think it’s really good to come in second place.”


Kearney contributed from Salisbury, England.


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