School assemblies now seem so different from the ones I was brought up with. My granddaughter (7) recently had one that included a version of Walk Like an Egyptian, and quite a lot of dressing up and performing is involved.
Our school assemblies in the 1940s and 1950s were strictly religious, although I never went to a church school. They were in the school hall, and called ‘Prayers’ rather than ‘Assembly’. We always had a hymn (to piano accompaniment by the music mistress), the Lord’s Prayer and at least one other prayer, a Bible reading, a short address from the head - did she really do that every day? - and, in senior school, a daily psalm sung to Anglican chant. We had Hymns of the Kingdom (green cover) and the Oxford Psalter, a little squat brown book which I loved dearly. We knelt with bare knees on the bare wooden floor, or sat cross-legged for readings. The staff had the luxury of chairs. Then there were the ‘notices’. At this point the few girls who didn’t join in Prayers would enter. They were Jewish or Roman Catholic. At the end we filed out (in silence, naturally) to piano music played by one of the pupils. This was enjoyable, except when it was my turn to play.
I was not in the least religious, but I loved every minute. A beautiful, tranquil start to our days.
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