John Hall

  • Aired:  05/09/12
  •  | Views: 16,671

John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey and author of "Queen Elizabeth and Her Church," discusses the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the history of his venerable workplace. (5:53)

>> Jon: MY GUEST THE DEAN OF WESTMINSTER ABBEY, HIS BOOK IS

CALLED "QUEEN ELIZABETH AND HER CHURCH, ROYAL SERVICE AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM JOHN HALL.

SIR.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: THIS IS VERY EXCITING,

SIR.

YOU ARE... HAVE A BOOK... THE QUEEN HAS HER ROYAL JUBILEE COMING UP, DOES SHE NOT?

>> DIAMOND JUBILEE.

60 YEARS, SINCE 1952 WHEN SHE BECAME QUEEN.

>> Jon: AND YOU WILL BE PRESIDING OVER THIS AFFAIR.

WILL THEY BE DOING THIS AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY?

>> NEXT YEAR FOR THE DIAMOND JUBILEE OF THE CORONATION.

SHE ACCEDED TO THE THRONE OF THE SIXTH OF FEBRUARY 1952.

>> Jon: OH, SURE, I THINK WE ALL REMEMBER THE SIXTH OF FEBRUARY.

>> REMEMBER IT VERY WELL.

>> Jon: I REMEMBER IT WAS FOUR DAYS AFTER GROUNDHOG DAY,

EVERYBODY.

>> AND THE CORONATION WAS IN 1953.

SO IT WILL BE THE 60th ANNIVERSARY OF THE CORONATION.

>> Jon: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN THE DEAN OF WESTMINSTER ABBEY?

>> FIVE AND A HALF YEARS.

>> Jon: DO YOU OVERSEE ALL OF THE SERVICES INCLUDING THE WEDDINGS AND SUCH?

>> YES, THE ABBEY'S LIFE, WHICH IS DIVERSE AND RICH AND VARIED

WITH SERVICES EVERYDAY, FOUR SERVICES EVERYDAY, FIVE ON A SUNDAY.

THERE ARE SEVEN PRIEST THERE IS AND I LEAD THE TEAM, AS IT WERE.

>> Jon: YOU'RE DOING FIVE SHOWS ON A SUNDAY?

(LAUGHTER)

>> PLUS AN ORGAN RECITAL.

>> WOW.

AND YOU HAVE... HOW DO YOU ATTAIN THIS TYPE OF POSITION?

THIS IS QUITE AN HONOR?

>> .

>> IT'S AN EXTRAORDINARY PRIVILEGE AND IT'S A WONDERFUL PLACE TO BE.

THE ABBEY IS SO EXTRAORDINARY.

I WAS DOING A JOB FOR THE CHURCH BEFOREHAND AND THEN I HAD A PHONE CALL SAYING COULD I GO TO

TEN DOWNING STREET AND THERE WAS A LETTER FROM THE PRIME MINISTER AND HE WAS GOING TO REMY NAME TO

THE QUEEN FOR THIS POSITION SO I DIDN'T SLEEP A WINK THAT NIGHT.

>> Jon: DID YOU KNEE IN THE PHONE CALL OR DID THEY JUST SAY

"BE AT 10 DOWNING STREET" AND YOU DON'T KNOW.

>> I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS ABOUT.

I HAD TO GO TO DOWNING STREET AND I WAS HANDED A LETTER FROM THE PRIME MINISTER.

>> Jon: SO YOU COULD HAVE OPENED IT UP AND IT COULD HAVE BEEN LIKE "HEY, YOU'RE

DEPORTED." (LAUGHTER) LIKE, IT COULD HAVE BEEN ANYTHING.

BUT IT WAS THIS WONDERFUL PRIVILEGE.

>> EXTRAORDINARY, YES,

ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL.

>> Jon: DO YOU LIVE ON THE GROUNDS?

>> I DO.

THE DEANERY IS A 14th CENTURY HOUSE.

>> Jon: OH!

>> IT WAS BUILT FOR THE ABBOT.

>> Jon: I'M SO SORRY.

SO YOU HAVE NO HEAT...

(LAUGHTER).

OR PLUMBING OR ANYTHING?

>> YES, IT'S BEEN MODERNIZED.

THE HITLER AIRPORTS HAD AN BIT OF IMPACT ON US IN 1941 SO THEY DID SOME UPDATING WORK.

BUT AT ONE END OF THE DEANERY I LOOK OVER THE ABBEY SO I'M THERE LOOKING THROUGH INTO THE WEST

END OF THE KNAVE.

SO IT'S AN EXTRAORDINARY PLACE TO BE.

>> Jon: WHAT AN INCREDIBLE...

DO YOU FEEL THE SPIRIT OF... FOR AMERICANS OUR HISTORY IS FOR US 240 YEARS, WHATEVER, AND WE FEEL

VERY GROWN UP BUT FOR YOU, YOUR HOUSE WOULD BE LIKE OUR GREAT,

GREAT, GREAT GRANDFATHER.

>> WE LOOK BACK TO 960 AND WE HAVE THE WHOLE OF THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH SPEAKING PEOPLE.

AS BARACK OBAMA SAID TO ME WHEN HE CAME TO THE ABBEY IN MAY LAST YEAR.

I ASKED HIM WHY DO SO MANY AMERICANS... SO MANY AMERICANS COME TO THE ABBEY, WHAT IS IT?

AND HE SAID WELL, THEY'RE LOOKING FOR THEIR ROOTS AND YOU CAN TELL THE WHOLE STORY OF THE

ENGLISH SPEAKING WORLD NOT JUST THROUGH THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE COMMON WORLD.

>> Jon: HE DIDN'T TELL YOU THAT MOSTLY IT'S JUST BECAUSE IT'S ON THE TOUR.

(LAUGHTER) THE ROOTS THING, YES, THAT'S VERY SOPHISTICATED ANSWER.

MOST OF US WOULD BE LIKE "WE WERE WALKING BY AND...

(LAUGHTER).

>> WE HAVE AN AMBITION WHICH IS THAT OUR VISITORS, OUR TOURIST WILL BECOME PILGRIMS WHILE

THEY'RE THERE.

THAT THEY'LL FIND SOMETHING OF GOD THERE THAT WHICH WILL INSPIRE THEM AND UPLIFT THEM.

>> Jon: IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO WALK INTO A HOUSE OF WORSHIP,

ESPECIALLY ONE THAT HAS WITHSTOOD THE TEST OF TIME, AND NOT FEEL SOME SENSE OF AWE OR A

SENSE OF WHAT THE PEOPLE THERE EXPERIENCE SOD MANY HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO.

>> THERE'S SO MUCH HISTORY AND THERE AND SO MANY PEOPLE BURIED AND MEMORIALIZED THERE.

EVERYWHERE YOU GO THERE ARE POETS AND SCIENTISTS AND WRITERS, CHARLES DARWIN, CHARLES

DICKENS, SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE AND YOU HAVE A SENSE OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN GREAT AND

MADE A DIFFERENCE TO OUR LIFE AND WE'RE SURROUNDED BY THAT MEMORY AS WELL AS BEING SHOT

THROUGH TO THE E INTERNAL MEMORY AS WELL.

AND WHAT REALLY IS IMPORTANT FOR US.

>> Jon: DO YOU FIND YOURSELF WANDERING AMONGST THOSE NAMES OCCASIONALLY?

I JUST IMAGINE LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION.

THOSE ARE WONDERFUL PLACES TO BE TO...

>> IT'S COMPLETELY EXTRAORDINARY.

THE FIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING OF PRINCE WILLIAM AND CATHERINE...

>> Jon: OH, I DIDN'T KNOW THEY GOT MARRIED.

THAT'S WONDERFUL THAT HAPPENED.

(LAUGHTER)

>> IT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY EVENT AND THE NIGHT BEFORE IT I WAS WANDERING THROUGH THE ROYAL

CHAPELS AND I WAS A LITTLE NERVOUS AND I WAS PRAYING FOR THEM AND HOPING THEY WERE GOING

TO BE FINE AND I JUST FELT THE WHOLE HISTORY OF THE PLACE AND THE WARMTH OF THE ABBEY AS IF IT

WERE RISING UP AND SUPPORTING THEM AND ME.

IT WAS A PRETTY EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCE.

>> Jon: VERY, VERY NICE AND LOVELY TO HAVE YOU ON THE SHOW.

LAST QUESTION.

THE QUEEN, BECAUSE YOU WORK FOR HER, YOU'RE A ROYAL PECULIAR.

WHEN SHE GREETS YOU...

(LAUGHTER).

DOES IT SOUND LIKE THIS IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM?

(AS THE QUEEN) HELLO!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) NOTHING?

>> NOT REALLY.

>> Jon: NOT AT ALL.

>> NOT REALLY, NO.

(LAUGHTER)

>> Jon: I'M GOING TO PRETEND I DIDN'T HEAR THAT, THEN.

QUEEN ELIZABETH AND HER CHURCH IS AVAILABLE ON MAY 31.

JOHN HALL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING WITH US.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

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