ItIAMOST welcome award in the New Year Honours List was surely the award of an O.B.E. to Mr. Owen Brannigan, the bass singer of Sadlers Wells .and Covent Garden fame.
Our front page last week carried his picture.
It was not, however, the first time that Owen Brannigan has made news with an award. Recognition of his artistry and keenness to help every good cause was shown in February( 1958, at the Catholic Stage Guild's gala concert in London, when it was announced from the stage that the Holy Father had conferred on him the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.
Though much of his time is spent now in London, Owen Brannigan actually comes from Northumberland and was a choirboy there in St. John the Baptist's Church at Annitsford.
His father, a Tyneside miner, apprenticed him to the joiner's shop of a nearby colliery. But the severe economic depression of the thirties forced the 21-year-old Owen to leave for London in search of work. He got a job with a firm of building contractors and pursued his love of music and singing with part-time studies at the Guildhall School of Music.
Intense studies eventually won him a scholarship, later the Gold Medal of the Guildhall, and finally the Medal of the Worshipful Cornpany of Musicians.
He joined Westminster Cathedral Choir in 1938. But after his performance in a broadcast of Vaughan, Williams, opera "Hugh the Drover", the following year, he was obliged to relinquish that work because of the demand for his services.
Today, apart from radio and television work, he is a recording artiste for H.M.V. Two of his records immediately spring to mind : One of Mozart Arias and the other of Northumbrian folksongs.
If you ever visit Annitsford. the town of his birth just outside Newcastle. you may find yourself in Owen Brannigan Drive. It's another sign of Owen 's popularity as a singer and a man.
A COLLEAGUE who is a regu lar theatreand cinema-goer tells me he is becoming more and more embarrassed by the calculated indifference shown by increasing numbers of people is the audience to the playing of the National Anthem.
At a rough count he estimates that perhaps one quarter of the audience stands to attention, one quarter shuffles about in an "at ease" position donning coals and scarves, and probably half just turns its back and walks out.
Does all this mean that people are becoming impatient of the whale idea of a monarchy, or is it perhaps due to the fact that those responsible for putting over the image of the present Royal Family are not doing their job?
Whatever the reason, this display of disrespect does us little credit. especially in the eyes of visitors from abroad. Rather than have this, it would seem preferable to either play the National Anthem at the beginning of a performance, or do away with it altogether.
THERE was quite an ecumenical wedding ceremony in Doncaster the other week.
It was conducted at the Catholic church of St. Peter's Chains, by an Ampleforth monk, with the Anglican Bishop of Pontefract and two Anglican clergymen as witnesses.
The bride was Miss Josephine Warde-Norhury, daughter of a leading Anglican family at Hooton Pagnell Hall, Doncaster.
The groom was 30-year-old Mr. David Jeffeock. Ampleforth old boy, who comes from Beccles, in Suffolk, and is prospective Conservative candidate for Don ' Valley.
They were married by Fr. Leonard Alban Rirnmer, O.S.B., who is Rector of the 18th century chapel of St. Wilfrid, at Aberford, Leeds.
Centre parish FR. RIMMER tells me there are great changes afoot in his parish.
From Aberford he has for some time been serving Garforth, Barwick-in-Elmet and Micklefield. But Garforth is developing at such a pace that the centre of his parish is to he moved there from Aberford.
A new church, with presbytery and small parish meeting hall, is being built now at Ciarforth.
When it is completed, at an estimated cost of £36,500. Fr. Rimmer tells me he will take up residence there, and a Catholic family will probably take over the residence at Aberford as caretakers for the chapel (chapel and living quarters are all under one roof).
'U.S. survey THE leakage and indifference to Mass attendance in our corner of the world is a constant source of anxious debate. But there seems to be quite a problem in the United States, too.
This is pin-pointed in a nationwide survey of American religious life conducted by Dr. George Gallup's Institute of Public Opinion.
According to the survey, only 71 per cent of American Catholics go to church every week.
Protestants have a 40 per cent church attendance.
Surprisingly. Jews are bottom of the poll: only 25 per cent attend regular synagogue worship.
I wonder what percentages a similar poll here would reveal ?
I HEAR that Fr. Mario Bor relli, the young Italian priest who is doing such champion work for the homeless scugnizzi of Naples, is scheduled to visit Britain next month.
As usual, he will be combining lecture work with fundraising and one meeting already fixed for him to explain his work and the problems of Naples' urchins will he at Leeds University, on February 20. Mr. Victor Gollancz will also speak at this meeting.
I imagine other engagements arc being booked fast, but for those still hopeful of catching Fr. Rossetti or hearing more about his work the person to contact is Miss Margaret Clark, 19 Rodger Drive. Rutherglen, Glasgow.
Miss Clark is the organising secretary of the British fund which channels aid to Fr. Borrelli's House of the Urchins. How well this fund is supported can be seen from Miss Clark's latest newsletter: £15,000 has been raised in the past 17 months, she says.
Found, a chalice THE Criminal Investigation Department of City Road Police Station, London. N.1, are trying to trace the owner of a "Cardinal Chalice", and have suggested that some of our readers
may be able to help them in their investigations.
The silver chalice, which was found in a black box on a demolition site off Old Street, London, E.C.1, on January 3, is slightly over six inches in height. The gold on the inside of the cup has been mostly worn away, and the base is inscribed: Henriqus Harrington. A. Die. 5. 10. 1919, Quotid sacrum facienis mentor sit suorum qui nte laetantes. D.D.
Around the centre of the stem is a decorated collar inscribed with the word "Maria".
The police tell me that Fr. Henry Harrington died at St. Edmund's College, Old Hall Green, Herts., in 1931.
Detective-sergeant Nichols, a member of the C.1.D. at City Road, informed me that the term "Cardinal chalice" originated some two or three hundred years ago, when the first chalice of this design was made for a cardinal in London.
Readers having information which might help to trace the owner of this chalice should phone C.I.D. at CLErkenwell 111 3, or get in touch with their nearest police station.
Istanbul meeting OUR circulation adviser, Sir IL/Harold Hood, has been recalling a meeting he had with the ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, in Istanbul. nearly three years ago — nearly a year before Vatican Council II.
A venerable bearded figure well over six feet tall, the Patriarch spoke warmly of Pope John. They had met when the Holy Father was Apostolic Delegate in Turkey. The Patriarch spoke of his longing for unity, and that Christians should become one. He then hoped to see Pope John in Rome. and had just sent the Holy Father a box of his favourite sweets.
Sir Harold tells me that the Patriarch's views on unity were considered then to be well in advance of many of his feline Bishops.
Bad driving ARCHBISHOP CONWAY of Armagh, preaching in his Cathedral recently, declared that "reckless driving is sinful driving and that is true whether an accident occurs or not",
No one, he added. had the right to risk the life of another person or his own life and that is what the reckless driver did. "Reckless driving is matter for confession, even though no one has been killed or injured by it", he declared. Appealing for more concern for road safety, Archbishop Conway said that the same principles applied to all who use the roads-pedestrians, cyclists and others. Carelessness in this matter was not just a breach of courtesy of the road. It was a breach of the moral law.