Carmen honour tradition and take pride in customs past and present.
The Loving Cup
One of the abiding customs of the City and of Carmen is the Ceremony of the Loving Cup – a communal ct of conviviality, with deep roots in the past. At dinner once a year, Carmen pass the Loving Cup, a silver gilt vessel, when three consecutive diners stand, two back to back, two face to face, the central one sipping the wine of fellowship, that behind protecting, that in front attending, the Cup then moving to the next in line.
This is usually attributed to the late 9th century, when Elfrida caused the death of stepson Edward the Martyr at Corfe Castle, to secure son Ethelred’s succession, That is almost certainly wishful thinking. The modern loving cup has its roots in Greek symposium, Jewish ritual and the Last Supper.
It was first documented in the City in 1811.
Some customs are modern. At every Carman meal, the Chaplain composes and delivers a rhyming Grace. This custom was inaugurated in 1979 by the Honorary Chaplain Emeritus, Bishop Bill Down, himself a Carman.
Bless us Lord
At this board
Strike a chord
Lest we’re bored
When we’re jawed! ...Amen
On the Installation of HRH the Princess Royal as Master Carman in 1986:
Lord of horsebox, coach and van,
Author of the master plan,
Bless our food from oven to pan,
Bless our drink, from bottle or can,
Bless our Livery, every man,
And bless our Master, Princess Anne. ...Amen
On the annual award presentations:
Thank you Lord, for a place to dine,
Thank you too for food and wine.
Bless our guests, our friends, our meal
– Conviviality may we feel.
Bless the winners of each award;
Prestige and orders be their reward.
Bless our speakers, grant them levity,
Wisdom, wit, and above all - brevity! ...Amen
Every year Carmen rededicate themselves at the Foundation Day service, when they recall their origins and objectives. During the service, a Liveryman, flanked by a Freeman and an Apprentice, reads the Pledge, (click on the image below for a copy of the full pledge wording.) At the end of the Ceremony the Pledge is dated and signed.
The Carmen’s Prayers
Following the Pledge, Carmen offer this prayer:
O Lord our God, we offer this our prayer for rededication that we may maintain our
Fellowship in service to our City and industry and those in need in Thy name, by Thy
grace and with Thy blessing, Amen
At the beginning of every Carman year, Carmen gather for the Installation of the new Master and Wardens and, at the Installation service, offer this prayer:
O Lord our God, we pray Thee to bless our Company of Carmen of this City. May we
be Thine for ever. May we fulfil our calling both in providing the essential service of
transport and also in our good works. Grant that we may manifest Thy glory in the
world, and finally come to Thine eternal Kingdom; And this we ask in Thy name,
The Carmen’s Oaths
Bound apprentice, taking Freedom or office, or clothed with the Livery, all Carmen make declarations in open Court and then sign as required.
As the prime example the Freeman's declaration is;
'...I do sincerely and solemnly declare to be true to our Sovereign Lady the Queen and her lawful heirs and successors. In all things lawful, as a Freeman, I will be obedient to the Master and Wardens of the Company and will support the Company to the best of my ability. I will observe the lawful Acts, Charters, Byelaws, rules and regulations made for the good government of the Company, and I will do no wrong to any fellow Carman but will behave myself in my trade well and honestly...'
The wording is traditional; the sentiments timeless.
The Carmen’s Toast
At the close of every meal, it is traditional to rise and drink to:
Carmen continue and flourish, after five centuries of service in fellowship.
'The Worshipful Company of Carmen, Root and Branch, may it Continue and Flourish forever'.