Martyn Smith, writing about Wesley College

(March,1997, memorandum 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 later!

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 collection 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 book.

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.

Home, incl. email


Return to Top