Set against the Thames River, London’s Big Ben Clock Tower annually draws a multitude of marveling tourists.
Architect Augustus Welby Pugin designed the Clock Tower more than 150 years ago. It is made of massive granite stone that ascends in graceful lines to the sky.
The intricate detail on its face offsets the solid strength of its shape, and the thin vertical windows, interspersed
in rows across the main trunk, break up the monotony and heaviness of what would otherwise be a solid and massive stone structure.
Punctuated by a pair of great black hands, each of the four white clock faces is set in an intricate frame of golden stone lacework. At the base of each, in gilt letters, the inscription reads Domine Salvam fac Reginam nostram Victoriam primam (“O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First”).
To appreciate this marvelous structure, one ought to sit at a table decked out with a crisp white linen tablecloth and napkins for English tea and scones at five o’clock. In this setting, the soul would enter into consonance with the majestic sounds of the tower bells and the virtues represented by Big Ben.
This beautiful clock tower is a symbol of England and
the virtues that a true Englishman values: ceremony, precision,
punctuality, neatness, duty and good reason over
The great clock stands erect and grand, striking the onlooker with a sense of all that is upright but at the same time beautiful. It is hard to imagine a soul, no matter how low such a soul may have sunk, incapable of finding beauty in Big Ben.
If someone were to say, “I don’t like it,” they would immediately attract strange looks of suspicion and their sanity might even
be put into question.
The tower is so much a part of the English soul that
one likes to imagine the possibility of God in His mercy
preserving it at the end of the world and taking it to
adorn some corner in heaven.
It has become such a symbol that anyone who sees a
picture of it immediately thinks of England; but interestingly
enough, one does not think of the modern England
of punks and soccer hooligans, but rather of the
true England of kings and queens and the Trooping of
Were we to make a meditation with Big Ben as the object
of our analysis, such words as “dignity,” “ceremony”
and “respect” would certainly come to mind.
Yes, though a mere physical structure, this great
tower embodies a sense of dignity and in a way it demands
respect from every passerby. This tower stands in
our modern world and calls us to that long gone sense
of respect that deep down every soul yearns for, and it
reminds us of the dignity that the Almighty imparted to
each and every one of us.
The day will surely come, either on earth or in heaven,
when human beings will be fully aware of their own dignity
and that of their fellow men. Thus their conduct towards
each other will be one of great respect with a touch
of ceremony. Then, we will feel like true children of God,
and Big Ben will “feel” evermore at home in our midst.
(By Thomas Ryder, Crusade)
The first photo is in the public domain. The second is a close-up photograph of Big Ben clock tower, London, England, by Dryo. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.