The Anglican Church has a long and illustrious heritage of choral music in its services, and St Peter ad Vincula Church seeks to play its part in maintaining that tradition. The Choir of St Peter’s is an all-age group of some 22 regular members with a repertoire that ranges from medieval plainsong, through the intervening centuries to the present day.
At the 10.30 Sung Eucharist on Sundays the choir leads the congregation in the hymns and a setting of the liturgy – the Kyrie or Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. During the Communion, an Anthem or Motet is sung, and on festivals an Introit at the beginning sets the scene for the service. On the fourth Sunday of the month the choir sings Evensong at 5.15 p.m. This is a beautiful, meditative service which usually involves the choir in singing an Introit, Responses, Psalms to Anglican chants, a setting of the Canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) and an Anthem. Under normal circumstances a monthly music list is published on this page and on the church notice boards.
At present the choir’s activities are suspended until the Coronavirus emergency is past. When normality returns we shall be urgently looking for new tenors and basses. Anyone interested should contact the Director of Music. Rehearsals are held on Friday evenings and, briefly, before the Sunday morning Sung Eucharist; there is also an hour’s rehearsal before Evensong.
In the slightly longer term, it is proposed to re-start a children’s choir and, eventually, to resume periodic visits to sing services in cathedrals and elsewhere.
The full choir after a carol service with (left) Philip Prior, former Director of Music, and (right) The Reverend Canon Chris Davey (Priest in Charge).
CHOIR PRACTICE TIMES
Weekly choir practices are held in the church on Friday evening as follows:
7.00-7.30pm Junior Choristers only.
7.30-8.15pm Full Choir including Junior Choristers.
8.15-9.15pm Adult Choristers only.
Sunday’s Full Choir practice is at 10.00am in the church, before the 10.30am Mass.
When there is Evensong, a Full Choir practice is held at 4.00pm, before the service at 5.15pm.
Other additional practices for services, concerts and cathedral visits may be arranged.
Following the rebuilding of the Church after wartime bomb damage, a new two-manual organ was supplied by Noel Mander and installed in the chamber under the tower at the west end, with a detached console in the Lady Chapel (the South Choir aisle). This gives the organist a good view of the choir, but it is remote from the sound-source.
In 2014 the organ was rebuilt and enlarged by Village Workshop, with a second-hand, three-manual console, still in the Lady Chapel. The new third manual is a Solo division, and consists entirely of extensions from the other two manuals – an ingenious and useful facility. The result is a versatile instrument in the English romantic tradition, as well adapted to the demands of choral and congregational accompaniment as to the performance of solo organ music from a wide variety of traditions.
Specification of the organ
Great: Double Open Diapason 16’, Large Diapason 8’, Small Diapason 8’, Dulciana 8’, Claribel 8’, Principal 4’, Flute 4’, Fifteenth 2’, Twelfth 2 2/3, Sesquialtera II, Mixture II, Trumpet 8’, Solo Trumpet 8’, Clarion 4’.
Swell: Open Diapason 8’, Stopped Diapason 8’, Viol da Gamba 8’, Voix Celeste 8’, Principal 4’, Flute 4’, Fifteenth 2’, Mixture III, Clarinet, 8’, Oboe, 8’, Horn 8’, Contra Fagotto 16’. Octave and Suboctave couplers, Unison off
Solo: Clarinet, 8’ (from Swell), Oboe 8’ (from Swell), Trumpet 8’ (from Great), Solo Trumpet, 8’ (from Great), Clarion 4’ (from Great). Octave and Suboctave couplers, Unison off.
Pedal: Open Wood 16’, Open Metal 16’, Bourdon 16’, Octave 8’, Cello 8’, Bass Flute 8’, Fifteenth 4’, Resultant Bass 32’, Trumpet 8’, Clarion 4’, Contra Fagotto 16’, Trombone 16’.
Couplers and accessories: Swell to Great, Swell to Solo, Solo to Great, Great to Pedal, Swell to Pedal, Solo to Pedal.
Six thumb pistons to each manual division, six toe studs to Swell (on left) and Pedal (on right). Great on Pedal toe pistons.
Eight general thumb pistons on 100 levels of memory. Setter piston on capture system.
Stepper piston and toe stud.
Director of Music
Michael Frith took over the position in September 2019 after the resignation of Philip Prior. It is his intention to retire as soon as a successor can be appointed. Anyone interested in applying should contact the Parish Administrator: email@example.com for further details, or for an informal discussion, the Director of Music: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Frith studied at the Universities of Durham (where he was an Organ Scholar) and Cambridge, and has divided his subsequent career between teaching, performing and composing. He taught music in two secondary schools before training music teachers at Trent Park College of Education. Later, he became Senior Lecturer and Curriculum Leader in Music at Middlesex University. His research interests and publications were chiefly in French music from Franck to Messiaen, but he was also editor of a book of essays on the Austrian composer and conductor Alexander von Zemlinsky.
His compositions range from liturgical music to large-scale works for chorus and orchestra and include a viola concerto, a clarinet sonata and an organ symphony. As an organist he has performed throughout the UK, in France and in Austria, having been in demand as a choral accompanist as well as a solo recitalist. His commercial recordings include 17th-century English keyboard music and contemporary works; his most recent CD is of Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur, on the organ of Brentwood Cathedral, released in 2020 on the Herald label.
He was Director of Music at All Saints, Hertford (1982-1995), and latterly has been visiting Organ Teacher and Assistant Chapel Organist at Felsted School.
Evensong is a balance of psalms, canticles, scripture readings and prayers. Much of this is sung by the choir, providing a reflective and prayerful space of contemplation and peace for the congregation.
The choir sings a full Choral Evensong usually on the fourth Sunday of each month at 5.15pm.
All are welcome to attend.