The beautiful painted ceiling has always tended to be neglected during hard times, only to be rediscovered later. The Parish Magazine entry in September 1928 makes this clear:
As the work on the interior of the Church proceeds we are beginning to realise that we have a ceiling worth looking at, and indeed it is the opinion of those who know, to be one of Mr Bodley’s masterpieces in decoration. Were it in Italy, it would be boomed by the guide-books as a fresco of great merit. It consists of 144 emblems of S Michael joined together by a regular floral design. Right along the chancel and nave on both sides, at the spring of the arch, is the following inscription painted in beautiful Old English lettering: – Stetit Angelus juxta aram templi habens thuribubum aureum in manu sua. Regem Archangelorum Dominum Venite adoramus, venite exultemus. Te splendor et virtus Patris Te vita Jesu cordium Ab ore qui pendent Tuo laudamus inter Angelos. Patri simulque Filio Tibique Sancte Spiritus sicut fuit sit jugiler cum angelis et archangelis cumque omni militia coelestibus exercitus nomen tuum laudamus et hymnum gloriae Tuae canimus sine fine dicentes Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth saeculum per omni gloria. Amen.” … partly the Preface of Mass of St Michael and partly from various mediaeval rites.
The first history of St Michael’s, In the Beginning, includes a translation of this Latin text, as follows:
In the Chancel, the words are taken from the Preface in the Communion Service:
“With Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Thy Glorious Name, evermore praising Thee and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts.”
In the Nave are two verses from the old Office hymn for St Michael’s Festival, followed by the antiphon, the translation being as follows:
“Thee, of the Brightness and the Might
Of the Father, Thee we sing,
Jesu, of our hearts the Life,
On Whose lips the Angels cling.
To the Father and the Son,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
As it was, so let it run
Glory through eternity.
An Angel stood at the Altar of the Temple,
Holding a golden censer in his hand (Rev. viii:3)
O come let us adore the Lord, the King of Archangels.
O come let us rejoice.”
At present, the paint is peeling especially from the lettering, but the ceiling as a whole still reflects the beauty spoken of in 1928.