www.Poundswick .org.uk

Morning Assembly

Poundswick was born in an era when the daily act of communal worship in schools had been firmly established for many generations. No trendie had yet questioned its relevance or value or whether it was "worth the trouble". Moreover, Albert Gilpin, Poundswick's Headmaster, was absolutely committed to it and conducted it personally throughout his sixteen years of service, hardly ever missing a day. After Mr. Gilpin's untimely death in 1972, the tradition was continued by his successor, Mrs. Joan Leighton.

After registration each morning, staff and pupils filed down to the main hall and assembled in two blocks with an aisle down the middle. The prefects then filed in and took up positions on either side of the central aisle. Finally the Headmaster arrived, either in silence or to the strains of some suitably dignified piano music played by Mr. Welton.

A short prayer was followed by a reading, usually from a member of staff or occasionally from a senior pupil. A hymn was sung and finally Mr. Hutchinson read out any notices. Pupils then filed out to their first lesson of the day. Ten minutes in total.

Was it worth it? I can only recount my own experience, which I am sure was shared by many. Its value became more and more evident to me as the years went by. By the time I reached the sixth form I had become acutely aware that it was a physically and emotionally uplifting experience. In some strange, inexplicable way it the got the day off to a good start. I remember many years later when the Pope paid a visit to Wales. He landed at Cardiff airport and was greeted by a male voice choir; presumably, given the importance of the occasion, the best that Wales could muster. He listened attentively and then in his opening address he included the remarkable line "It is important to pray, but it is more important to sing." When I heard these words my thoughts went straight back to the hall at Poundswick. We prayed and we sang. Yes, it was important, and it was worth it.

A prayer and a hymn every working day needs a good source of suitable material and this came in the form of a thick blue book called The Daily Service. It was compiled for use in all Manchester's secondary schools and at Poundswick each pupil had their own copy. It included general prayers, prayers for special occasions, suggestions for readings and a very comprehensive collection of hymns.

I have included below a few extracts from The Daily Service which I am certain early Old Poundswickians will remember. I hope you enjoy seeing them again.



Here are a couple of typical supplementary prayers that were incorporated into the Morning Service from time to time:

The Daily Service also included over 200 hymns; all the "old favourites" plus quite a few others. Poundswickians got to know them well; we were the last generation to have assembled each morning in order to sing from the great collection of Anglican music and to have absorbed one of the most impressive traditions of amateur music-making ever known. Most of us, no doubt, still hear in our heads tunes, words and harmonies which have focused the thoughts and feelings of English speakers for as long as the Anglican Church has represented the established religion of this country. Here's one of the many rousing ones. Sung with gusto, it's guaranteed to get your day going with a zing!

I bet you know the tune!
Click Here
if you'd like to hear it.

So for how long did the daily Morning Assembly survive? Gary Potter (1974-79) recalls that it was still a feature when he left in 1979. If you were at Poundswick in the 80s or later and can confirm either that it did or didn't exist during your time, let's hear from you.