Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wall Delivers Paper at the John Donne Conference

I delivered a paper entitled "Hearing Donne: The Experience of Donne‘s Preaching at Paul‘s Cross" at the annual Conference of the John Donne Society, held in Leiden June 26th - 29th, 2012.

I discussed my understanding of the Paul's Cross sermon as a collaborative and interactive performance.

I suggested that the Paul's Cross sermon was a conversation, and that the text of these sermons represented only one side of the conversation.

I acknowledged the challenge of recovering the congregation's side of this conversation, but suggested that congregational response was sometimes scripted, as in in its participation in the Lord's Prayer at the beginning of the sermon.

Other times it can be inferred from the way the preacher structures his presentation, seeming to invite certain kinds of response.

As part of this presentation, I played five audio clips combining Ben Crystal's realization of Donne's Gunpowder Day sermon for November 5th, 1622 with hypothetical congregational responses.

Updated: John Donne Returns to St Paul's

There is a new statue of Donne, which is located on the grounds of St Paul's Cathedral, on the southeast corner, between the east end of the building and the street that is called, at that point, St Paul's Churchyard, according to Google Maps, but which is also known in that area of London as Ludgate Hill and Cannon Street.

The statue was erected this year, according to a sign on the statue.

UPDATE: There is a detailed account on the website of St Paul's, HERE, including a fine image of our Advisory Board member Peter McCullough who assisted at the unveiling of the statue on 15 June 2012.

According to this account, the statue was commissioned by the City of London, under the leadership of Alderman Robert Hall, the sculptor was Nigel Boonham FRBS, and the stone carver responsible for the elegant lettering was Andrew Whittle.

The inscription on the plinth says, "John Donne/poet and divine/1572-1631."  At the base of the statue is a quote from Donne's "Good Friday 1613, Riding Westward": Hence is't, that I am carried towards the West,
This day, when my Soul's form bends to the East.

The base has pointers toward the 4 cardinal directions, and the inscriptions note important events in Donne's career --  (for east) "birthplace/Bread Street,"  (for south) married/Anne More of Losely," (for west) reader/Lincoln's Inn, and (for north), "dean/St Paul's Cathedral."

The statue itself seems to be modeled on the portrait of Donne as Dean that hangs today in the library of the Deanery at St Paul's. Always good to be reminded of Donne's connections to St Paul's.

London, 2012 -- Revisiting Paul's Cross

I made this photograph on my way to meetings at St Paul's to discuss Stage Two of the Virtual St Paul's Cathedral Project.

It was possible, just for a moment, to see at one time Josh Stephens' model of Paul's Churchyard in 1622 and this stark reminder of the reality we are trying to recover.

Powerful . . . . .