Welcome to the Saint Mary choir blog.

The church has both an adult and junior choir. We are affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music(RSCM). The junior choir are provided with tuition to enable them to gain their RSCM medals.

The senior choir is a SATB choir with its main responsibility to sing at the 10am Sunday service, including an anthem. See below for more details.

Our choirs do not require any fees to belong to them. New members to both the senior and junior choir are always welcome, whatever their standard. If you are interested in joining us please contact our Director of Music (Joanna) via the  Contact Us page.

Sunday 14 July 2024

Sunday 14th July 2024 Trinity 7 Sea Sunday

  Crossing The Bar  Sir H Parry   Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Anthem was the famous poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, put to music by H Parry.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was a British poet, and for much of Queen Victoria's reign was Poet Laureate

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson by George Frederic Watts.jpg
Alfred Lord Tennyson, from Wikipedia

C H H Parry was born in Bournemouth in 1848 into a rich family and was educated at Eton where he also gained his music degree.  He went to study further at Oxford.  His music influenced other great English composers such as Elgar and Vaughan Williams.  He wrote his best music in his later years and this include his Songs of Farewell.  He died in Rustington in 1918, just before the end of the Great War.

Sir Parry from Wikipedia

Sunday 7 July 2024

Sunday 7th July 2024 Trinity 6

  "Lead me Lord" from "Praise the Lord, O my soul" by Samuel Sebastian Wesley

"Praise the Lord, O my Soul" was written in 1861 and contains the short anthem "Lead me Lord". It was composed when Wesley was organist at Winchester College and Cathedral. "Lead me Lord " is the final section of the work, and has a wondrous simplicity with 2 short solo parts which lend themselves beautifully for young choristers starting on solo work.

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810 - 1876) was the illegitimate son of Samuel Wesley and Sarah Souter, and grandchild of Charles Wesley. He was a choirboy in the Chapel Royal and then embarked on a musical career.  He was appointed organist at Hereford Cathedral in 1832 and then married the Dean's sister.  He moved to Exeter Cathedral in 1835 and 1842, Leeds Parish Church, 1849 - Winchester Cathedral, 1865 - Gloucester Cathedral.  In 1839 he achieved his Bachelor of Music and Doctorate of Music from Oxford.  He became Professor of Organ in the Royal Academy of Music in 1850.

His work was almost exclusively for the Anglican church.  With Father Willis he is jointly credited with the invention of the concave and radiating pedal board for organ which has now become the standard internationally.

Samuel Wesley from Wikipedia

Sunday 30 June 2024

Sunday 30th June 2024 Evensong

 The Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis in B flat  C V Stanford

Taken from Wikipedia.
The Magnificat (Latin for "[My soul] magnifies [the Lord]") is a canticle, also known as the Song of Mary, the Canticle of Mary and, in the Byzantine tradition, the Ode of the Theotokos . It is traditionally incorporated into the liturgical services of the Catholic Church (at vespers) and of the Eastern Orthodox churches (at the morning services). It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn. Its name comes from the incipit of the Latin version of the canticle's text.

The text of the canticle is taken directly from the Gospel of Luke (1:46–55) where it is spoken by Mary upon the occasion of her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. In the narrative, after Mary greets Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist, the latter moves within Elizabeth's womb. Elizabeth praises Mary for her faith (using words partially reflected in the Hail Mary), and Mary responds with what is now known as the Magnificat.

Within the whole of Christianity, the Magnificat is most frequently recited within the Liturgy of the Hours. In Western Christianity, the Magnificat is most often sung or recited during the main evening prayer service: Vespers in the Catholic and Lutheran churches, and Evening Prayer (or Evensong) in Anglicanism. In Eastern Christianity, the Magnificat is usually sung at Sunday Matins. Among Protestant groups, the Magnificat may also be sung during worship services, especially in the Advent season during which these verses are traditionally read.

The Nunc dimittis, also known as the Song of Simeon or the Canticle of Simeon, is a canticle taken from the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 29 through 32. Its Latin name comes from its incipit, the opening words, of the Vulgate translation of the passage, meaning "Now let depart". Since the 4th century it has been used in services of evening worship such as Compline, Vespers, and Evensong.

The title is formed from the opening words in the Latin Vulgate, “Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine" ("Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord"). Although brief, the canticle abounds in Old Testament allusions. For example, "Because my eyes have seen thy salvation" alludes to Isaiah 52:10.

According to the narrative in Luke 2:25-32, Simeon was a devout Jew who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the ceremony of redemption of the firstborn son (after the time of Mary's purification: at least 40 days after the birth, and thus distinct from the circumcision), Simeon was there, and he took Jesus into his arms and uttered words rendered variously as follows:

All In The April Evening  H S Roberton

Composed in 1911, this piece became widely known and performed throughout the English speaking world in its vocal and choral versions. The composer, Hugh Roberton, was the founder and conductor of the famous Glasgow Orpheus Choir in whose repertoire this song constantly featured. The song is a setting of words by Katharine Tynan. 

Sir Hugh Stevenson Roberton (23 February 1874 – 7 October 1952) was a Scottish composer and Britain's leading choral-master.

Roberton was born in Glasgow, left school at the age of 14 and entered the family business - a funeral directors - which by the age of 21 he was managing. He worked there into the 1930s, devoting most of his spare time to music making. He was also involved in the artistic side of the Labour movement, a Fabian socialist, life-long pacifist and a friend of Ramsay MacDonald.

Roberton inherited his love of folk song from his mother, an untrained singer, and was largely self-taught in music, learning by singing in choirs and later directing them. As well as music, Roberton was an author and playwright. He wrote two plays, Kirsteen and Christ in the Kirkyaird (published together in 1922), some humorous essays under the title Curdies (1931), and a handbook, Choir Singing (1925).

Orpheus Choir
In 1906 he founded the Glasgow Orpheus Choir. For five years before that it was the Toynbee Musical Association. A perfectionist, he expected the highest standards of performance from its members. Its voice was a choir voice, its individual voices not tolerated. He set new standards in choral technique and interpretation. For almost fifty years, until it disbanded in 1951 on the retirement of its founder, the Glasgow Orpheus Choir had no equal in Britain and toured widely enjoying world acclaim. Their repertoire included many Scottish folk songs arranged for choral performance, and Paraphrases, as well as Italian madrigals, English motets (including early performances of Elgar's partsongs) and the music of the Russian Orthodox Church. The choir also performed the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Felix Mendelssohn, Peter Cornelius, Johannes Brahms and others.

The autobiographical Orpheus with his Lute: a Glasgow Orpheus Choir Anthology, was published posthumously in 1963, with contributions by Roberton and other material edited by his son Kenneth.

Composer and arranger
Roberton published over 300 of his own compositions and arrangements. The concert edition of Scottish Songs was first published in 1929. Songs of the Isles (1937) collects a further 20 songs based on highland airs, including Westering Home, and Mairi's Wedding. (The original Gaelic lyric and tune of Mairi's Wedding was by John Bannerman, 1865-1938). Roberton wrote alternative lyrics for Dashing White Sergeant, also included in the volume. His best known original composition is the partsong All in the April evening (words by Katharine Tynan).

Personal life
Roberton was knighted in the 1931 New Year's Honours.[5] Because of his pacifism and membership of the Peace Pledge Union both he and the Glasgow Orpheus Choir were banned by the BBC from broadcasting during the Second World War.

His married his first wife Joan McGillivray in 1895. She died in 1907. His second wife, previously his housekeeper, was Lady Helen (Birkmyre) Roberton. She died in Cathcart, Glasgow in 1965, aged 83 years. There were seven sons and two daughters, including the politician and diplomat Hugh Roberton and Kenneth Roberton, music publisher.

Sir Hugh Roberton
Taken from Wikipedia

Katharine Tynan (23 January 1859 – 2 April 1931) was an Irish writer, known mainly for her novels and poetry. After her marriage in 1893 to the Trinity College scholar, writer and barrister Henry Albert Hinkson (1865–1919) she usually wrote under the name Katharine Tynan Hinkson, or variations thereof. Tynan's younger sister Nora Tynan O'Mahony (née Tynan, 1866–1954) was also a poet and one of her three children, Pamela Hinkson (1900–1982), was also known as a writer. The Katharine Tynan Road in Belgard, Tallaght is named after her.

Tynan was born into a small farming family in County Dublin and educated at the Dominican St. Catherine's, a convent school in Drogheda. Her poetry was first published in 1875. She met and became friendly with the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1886. Tynan went on to play a major part in Dublin literary circles, until she married and moved to England; later she lived at Claremorris, County Mayo when her husband was a magistrate from 1914 until 1919.

From June 1885 when they first met until around the time of her marriage in 1893, Tynan was a close associate of and regular correspondent with William Butler Yeats (who may have proposed marriage and been rejected). Tynan was also later a correspondent of Francis Ledwidge. She is said to have written over 100 novels. Her Collected Poems appeared in 1930; she also wrote five autobiographical volumes.

Tynan contributed to many periodicals and magazines such as the Jesuit published Studies, the Dominican published Irish Rosary, Irish Monthly, Hibernia and Dublin University Review.

Tynan died in Wimbledon, London aged 72.

Katharine Tynan
Taken from Wikipedia

Sunday 30th June 2024 Trinity 5

 Ave Verum Corpus Mozart

Ave Verum Corpus (Hail, true body) is a setting of the Latin Hymn, in D major.  It was written for Anton Stoll, a friend and church musician of St Stephen, Baden.

It was composed in 1791 whilst visiting his wife Constanze who was pregnant with their 6th child and staying at the spa Baden bei Wien.  It was composed for the feast of Corpus Christi.  Mozart's manuscript has only "Sotto voce" marked at the beginning with no other markings.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)

Mozart was a child prodigy competent on keyboard and violin.  He began composing at the age of five. He performed around Europe for royalty.  At the age of 17 he was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but was restless and travelled looking for a better position.  Whilst visiting Vienna he was dismissed from his position in Salzburg.  He remained in Vienna, where he gained fame but no financial security.

He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as the finest in symphonies, concertante, operatic, chamber and choral music.  He remains one of the best loved classical composers, whose work influenced many composers.  Joseph Haydn said of Mozart "Posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."

W A Mozart from Wikipedia

Sunday 23 June 2024

Sunday 23rd June 2024 Trinity 4

 The Irish Blessing.  Bob Chilcott  Words traditional

This is a traditional Irish blessing put to music by Bob Chilcott

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

As a composer, conductor, and singer, Bob Chilcott has enjoyed a lifelong association with choral music, first as a chorister and choral scholar in the choir of King's College, Cambridge, and for 12 years as a member of the King's Singers. He became a full-time composer in 1997, embracing his career with energy and commitment, and producing a large catalogue of music for all types of choirs which is published by Oxford University Press.
Music for Christmas forms a considerable part of his most popular repertoire, and works for the season include Wenceslas, My Perfect Stranger, and On Christmas Night. In his carols he sets both new and traditional texts, and writes for mixed-voice and upper-voice choirs.
He has written substantial sacred works including the St John Passion for Wells Cathedral Choir and the Salisbury Vespers. A Little Jazz Mass and the Requiem are amongst a number of works which continue to be performed worldwide. Other works include The Angry Planet, composed for the 2012 BBC Proms, and The Voyage for Age UK Oxfordshire, which in 2017 was nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award. He has written many pieces for children, including his much-loved song, Can you hear me?, and a significant amount of music for the church. In 2013 he wrote The King shall rejoice for the service in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Bob has conducted choirs in more than 30 countries worldwide and has worked with many thousands of amateur singers across the UK in a continuing series of Singing Days. For seven years he was conductor of the Chorus of The Royal College of Music in London and since 2002 he has been Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Singers.
His music has been widely recorded by leading British choirs and groups including King's College, Cambridge, Wells Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, The King's Singers, The Sixteen, Tenebrae, The BBC Singers, The Bach Choir, Commotio, and Ora. In 2016 Bob enjoyed a collaboration with the celebrated singer Katie Melua and the Gori Women's Choir on the album In Winter, which reached the top 10 in the album charts in the UK and Germany. His first Christmas disc, The Rose in the Middle of Winter, was recorded by Commotio. In 2017 two new discs were released by Commotio and Choralis – All Good Things on Naxos, and In Winter's Arms on Signum, his first recording collaboration with an American choir. Newer recording projects are with Gloucester Cathedral Choir, Houston Chamber Choir, and Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir.
In 2017 Bob was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of The Royal School of Church Music.

Taken from  bobchilcott.com

Bob Chilcott in January 2009
Bob Chilcott from Wikipedia

Sunday 16 June 2024

16th June 2024 Trinity 3

 Benedictus in C    C V Stanford

This is the Canticle of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist,  and is taken from Luke's Gospel (Luke 1:68-79) It is sung daily at Morning Prayer.

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) thought to be one of our great British composers was actually Irish, born in Dublin, although educated at The University of Cambridge and then studied music in Leipzig and Berlin.

Whilst an undergraduate, he was appointed organist of Trinity College, Cambridge and was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life.  He was also Professor of Music at Cambridge.  His pupils included Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams whose fame went on to surpass his own.

He is best remembered for his sacred choral compositions for church performance in the Anglican tradition. Along with Hubert Parry and Alexander Mackenzie, he was thought responsible for the renaissance of music in the British Isles.

head and shoulders shot of an elderly man with full head of hair, moustache and pince-nez
C V Stanford in 1921 from Wikipedia

 "Thou Visitest The Earth" from "Thou O God Art Praised in Sion" Dr Maurice Greene (1696 - 1755)

"Thou Visitest The Earth" is a setting of Psalm 65 for solo tenor or baritone and SATB chorus.  In our case today, the solo was taken by one of our altos.  It is commonly used as a Harvest anthem speaking of God's blessings on the earth.

Maurice Green was born in London, his father, Thomas Greene, was chaplain of the Chapel Royal and canon of Salisbury. Young Maurice began his studies under Jeremiah Clarke and Charles King at St Paul's Cathedral. In 1714 he gained his first musical post as organist at St Dunstan-in-the-West on Fleet Street. In 1717 he became organist at St Paul's Cathedral.

Greene was a founder member of the Castle Society, established in 1724. He also helped found the Academy of Ancient Music.

In 1730, Greene was admitted "Doctor in Musica" at Cambridge University and later was made a professor of music there.

In 1735, Greene was elected Master of the King's Music, the highest musical position in the land.

Originally a friend of Handel, Handel had a disagreement with another composer, Giovanni Bononcini, but when Greene continued his friendship with Bononcini, this upset Handel and a lifelong feud ensued.

Saturday 15 June 2024

2nd June 2024 Trinity 1 Evensong

Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis  Thomas Morley

This rendition of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis is sung more like a psalm. 

Thomas Morley (1557 – early October 1602) was an English composer, theorist, singer and organist of the Renaissance. He was one of the foremost members of the English Madrigal School. Referring to the strong Italian influence on the English madrigal, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians states that Morley was "chiefly responsible for grafting the Italian shoot on to the native stock and initiating the curiously brief but brilliant flowering of the madrigal that constitutes one of the most colourful episodes in the history of English music."

Living in London at the same time as Shakespeare, Morley was the most famous composer of secular music in Elizabethan England. He and Robert Johnson are the composers of the only surviving contemporary settings of verse by Shakespeare.

Morley was active in church music as a singer, composer and organist at St Paul's Cathedral. He was also involved in music publishing. From 1598 up to his death he held a printing patent (a type of monopoly). He used the monopoly in partnership with professional music printers such as Thomas East.

Morley was born in Norwich, the son of a brewer. Most likely he was a singer in the local cathedral from his boyhood, and he became master of choristers there in 1583. He may have been a Roman Catholic, but he was able to avoid prosecution as a recusant, and there is evidence that he may have been an informer on the activities of Roman Catholics.

It is believed that Morley moved from Norwich to London sometime before 1574 to be a chorister at St. Paul's Cathedral. Around this time, he studied with William Byrd, whom he named as his mentor in his 1597 publication A Plain and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke. Byrd also taught Morley's contemporary, Peter Philips. In 1588 he received his bachelor's degree from the University of Oxford, and shortly thereafter was employed as organist at St. Paul's in London. His young son died the following year in 1589. He and his wife Susan had three more children between 1596 and 1600.

In 1588 Nicholas Yonge published his Musica transalpina, the collection of Italian madrigals fitted with English texts, which touched off the explosive and colourful vogue for madrigal composition in England. Morley found his compositional direction at this time, and shortly afterwards began publishing his own collections of madrigals (11 in all).

Morley lived for a time in the same parish as Shakespeare, and a connection between the two has been long speculated, but never proven. His famous setting of "It was a lover and his lass" from As You Like It has never been established as having been used in a performance of Shakespeare's play during the playwright's lifetime. However, given that the song was published in 1600, there is evidently a possibility that it was used in stage performances.

While Morley attempted to imitate the spirit of Byrd in some of his early sacred works, it was in the form of the madrigal that he made his principal contribution to music history. His work in the genre has remained in the repertory to the present day, and shows a wider variety of emotional colour, form and technique than anything by other composers of the period. Usually his madrigals are light, quick-moving and easily singable, like his well-known "Now Is the Month of Maying" (which is actually a ballett); he took the aspects of Italian style that suited his personality and anglicised them. Other composers of the English Madrigal School, for instance Thomas Weelkes and John Wilbye, were to write madrigals in a more serious or sombre vein.

In addition to his madrigals, Morley wrote instrumental music, including keyboard music (some of which has been preserved in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book), and music for the broken consort, a uniquely English ensemble of two viols, flute, lute, cittern and bandora, notably as published by William Barley in 1599 in The First Booke of Consort Lessons, made by diuers exquisite Authors, for six Instruments to play together, the Treble Lute, the Bandora, the Cittern, the Base-Violl, the Flute & Treble-Violl.

Morley's Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (published 1597) remained popular for almost two hundred years after its author's death, and is still an important reference for information about sixteenth century composition and performance.

Thomas Morley was buried in the graveyard of the church of St Botolph Billingsgate, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of London of 1666, and not rebuilt. Thus his grave is lost.
Taken from Wikipedia

Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes  Thomas Attwood

Thomas Attwood was an English composer and organist.  Attwood was born in London, the son of a musician in the royal band. He became a chorister in the Chapel Royal by the age of nine.  He was sent abroad to study at the expense of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) who was impressed by his skill at the harpsichord.  He was a favourite pupil of Mozart. He returned to London in 1787.

In 1796 he was made organist of St Paul's and the same year composer of the Chapel Royal.  For George IV's coronation he wrote the anthem "I was glad".

Much of his work is forgotten, only a few anthems regularly performed including "Turn thy face from my sins". See 30th October 2017.

Today we sang "Teach Me O Lord " which is Psalm 119 v33.

Thomas Atwood from Wikipedia