It will soon be time for graduates to march in procession during a ceremony to which they have looked forward for a long time. Part of that procession will most likely be a familiar piece of music known as “Pomp and Circumstance.” This piece was written by Sir Edward Elgar in 1901 and is a part of a larger work entitled, “Pomp and Circumstance in D Major, Opus 39, No. 1.” Elgar actually wrote 5 “Pomp and Circumstance Marches” of which this is the first. The title actually comes from Shakespeare and is a line from Othello which says, “pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!”
Elgar used the main theme with which we are familiar during the coronation of Edward VII. In 1905, Elgar was given an honorary doctorate from Yale and the school played his “Pomp and Circumstance” as a recessional at the ceremony. After this, other colleges adopted it but as a processional instead. Now it is used almost everywhere at graduations.
Sometimes traditions amaze me. I do love the time-honored traditions. These would obviously include playing “Pomp and Circumstance” for a processional at graduation. Or how about singing “Silent Night” at the end of the Christmas Eve Service complete with candle in hand? My wife, Cathie, is in a local organization which recently had an annual picnic that from time immemorial has always had the same menu. That’s pretty neat.
So, you will probably agree with me that some traditions honor the past and are meaningful to those of us in the present. But, hopefully we won’t fall into the trap of “we’ve always done it that way.” You know what I mean. Even though something better presents itself that would make things easier or more meaningful, many folks just simply do not want to change. And I will be the first to say that it is hard to break with some traditions. But I won’t dwell on that.
The most important thing that I would like to say in this article is congratulations to all the graduating seniors. As a former teacher, I know what you have to do to get to this point in your life. You deserve all the praise you can get. You also deserve to enjoy this time in your life as much as possible. But remember that graduation is not an end. It is the next step on the ladder of life. May you all continue to do your level best to ascribe to the scripture found in Micah: “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.” May God richly bless you always.
See y’all in church.