WESLEY COLLEGE SONG
for Dr Helen Drennen, Head of Glen Waverley Campus)
The Wesley Song Book is an important
conserver of the culture of the College.
It stands as a 104 year old codification
of the sentiments and values of the school. Its strength is its simultaneous
timeliness and timelessness. For example, the emotion
and meaning evoked in the late nineteenth century by the words of verses
II and III of Schola Carissima are just as deeply felt one hundred years
Through its thirteen editions, the
Song Book has reflected the evolving College as fresh editing has seen
new material included and old material excluded. This has been a
thoughtful process conducted over a long period of time. This necessary
slowness provides the book's integrity. Also, the
of the editions is a vital archive.
Any modern editing must take account
of the cultural 'storehouse' extant in the present edition and build on
that for the good of the current generation and in honour of the past.
The existence of the traditional
Wesley College Song Book should not be lost. It must continue to
include a large battery of songs, their music and the notations, including
the "Rhymes of the Times".
Probably, it should remain in book
form. As such it should become a mandatory possession of all Wesley
students and should be used exclusively for all school singing,
including hymn singing -- a small hymn supplement could be
added. At its current price it would be the cheapest book that the
students would purchase, considering it would be used frequently for a
number of years and probably retained after leaving school.
This sense of ongoing 'possession'
is important. The book, as stated earlier, is a Wesley code
-- it represents the ideals of the school community and, for those
who have left, calls back their youthful years.
The Song Book could well be transferred
to the Internet. It could be electronically presented for school
singing and would continue to exist for ready reference in the homes of
all Wesley people connected to the Net. This would bring a deeper
and broader significance to the enshrining of the culture of the College.
David Loader will undoubtedly envision the potential of this idea.
Whatever the form, the Song Book
is a proud and somewhat unique Wesley institution which needs enhancing.
Mr Jim Wastell is an authority on
the Wesley Song Book and if he has not been consulted already he really
must be before any crucial and/or radical decisions are made regarding
The Preface to the current edition
is worth reading. It provides a rationale for the Song Book and delineates
an interesting history of singing at Wesley and M.L.C.