July 17, 2011

Day two in Oxford – we feel smarter already.  

We woke up and had breakfast in Kebel College’s version of the “Great Hall”.  Pretty impressive.  Makes you want to raise your pinky finger just a bit higher when sipping your tea.  Sundays are a bit hard anywhere tourism wise; so many things are closed down.  And it was raining… boo.  The ‘Hop-on-Hop-Off’ Bus tour was not closed and it was covered from the rain, so we had a really nice tour through Oxford, seeing and hearing about the history of probably 40 or so sights. 

I then took Andrew to the covered market which contains all sorts of unique and cozy shops, filled with stuff you don’t need but will buy anyway.  More importantly, it houses a milkshake place that will blend pretty much any British biscuit (Remember that’s code for ‘cookie’ here) into a milkshake.    Yes. (Andrew's Note: YEESSSSS!!!)  Andrew had a chocolate Hobnob milk shake.  Remember he ate like 2 full packages of them a few nights ago? (I do.)  Evidently that didn’t quite cut it.  I had a homemade triple chocolate cookie… it almost made me cry.  And this all was on top of having pies and mash for lunch. 
We’re glad that we have the fall to train for a half marathon.

On significantly full stomachs, we walked over to Christ Church College.

It's important in it's own right but now it happens to be ridiculously famous for being associated with Harry Potter.  That couldn't have anything to do with why we went there...  The Great Hall is modeled after their dining hall:

I was disappointed to find out that the students here just pick their houses instead of being sorted.
And the staircase leading up to their dining hall was used for the first film!

Hard to see with all the people, sorry.  This is where Neville lost his frog :-)
The rest of the place, of course, is beautiful and castle-like.  The cathedral inside the college has some amazing windows, AND it's where John and Charles Wesley were buried!  

This is a big deal since we both went to Asbury University.  Asbury is sometimes mistakenly called a Methodist school, but it does have close ties with the Methodist church and several early Methodist movement leaders got the school going.  I also grew up in a Methodist church and have lots of roots with them and the Moravians, who cheered up a dejected John Wesley on a boat trip and got him back on track with his evangelization in America.  Poof, the Methodist church!  All that, plus John Wesley and his brother, Charles, wrote some of the greatest hymns we have in the church today.  

If you’re wondering what all this has to do with Early Music, we promise we’re set to do something of worth in Oxford, we just arrived at an unfortunate time.  The Bate Early Music Instrument collection doesn’t open until Monday, so we’ll go tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we attended an Evensong.  Remember, evensong is essentially a ‘sung’ church service.  I find that as a musician, I tend to get more out of this approach to a church service than your typical service.
Here’s Andrew for the details:
Tonight’s Evensong service was at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (the one where we climbed the tower yesterday to look out over Oxford).  It’s pretty much a night and day difference from Westminster Abbey’s Evensong.  There were only about 15 people (compared to probably 150 at Westminster) and the choir was a guest choir from a town down the river a bit who tended toward the over 80 age mark :-)  I realize what I’m comparing it to Westminster here, but I’m just illustrating the differences.  They did Mozart’s “Ave verum corpus” – a pretty famous piece and one I could actually sing along with!  It’s interesting…Americans tend to hold up the British accent as a low-maintenance singing accent (as in, you don’t have to fix as much because their vowels tend to be purer and you can’t find an “R” at the end of a word in sight), but hearing an everyday citizen church choir makes me realize that everyone has things to work on!  Most of the pronunciation and accent issues that my choirs deal with are not problems here, but they do have their own set of funny vowels and things.  Now I know what I can fix when I move here!  Ahem…..


  1. Tyler L.7/17/2011

    x = 1.716 meters

  2. Brandon7/18/2011

    Amen on those Wesley hymns!