MUSIC AND CHOIR
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 Covid-19 pandemic of 2020-21 has created challenges for many choirs including our own, and with a new incumbent in post and a revised pattern of services it was decided to explore new possibilities from the autumn of 2021.
The choir is now a small group of singers (at present between 8 and 10 in number) who concentrate on singing Choral Evensong at 5.15 on the 1st Sunday of each month and other special evening services. Evensong is a beautiful, meditative service derived from the ancient monastic offices, and is ideally said or sung every day, being part of the church’s daily conversation with God. It usually involves the choir in singing an Introit, Responses, Psalms (usually to Anglican chants), a setting of the Canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) and an Anthem. The repertoire embraces centuries of Christian worship from ancient plainsong to the present day. Two hymns and a short sermon or reflection follow. Music lists are usually published on this page and on the church notice boards.
Anyone interested in joining the choir should contact the Director of Music for an informal audition involving a simple aural test and an assessment of sight-reading ability. Rehearsals are held on Sundays in the late morning; there is also an hour’s rehearsal before Evensong.
In the rather longer term, it is envisaged that a children’s choir might eventually be established and, in time, a resumption of periodic visits to sing services in cathedrals and elsewhere.
In contrast, the principal Sunday morning service is now to be a Parish Eucharist at 9.30 which is entirely congregational in character. Hearty singing by all is encouraged: there is a congregational setting of the liturgy and a selection of seasonally appropriate hymns from a wide variety of sources and traditions. With these and a range of more informal services, St Peter’s now caters for a variety of tastes and requirements.
MUSIC AT EVENSONG
This is a provisional list to cover the period from:
SEPTEMBER TO CHRISTMAS 2021
September 5th: 14th Sunday after Trinity
Introit: Cantate Domino Pitoni
Psalm 119, vv 41-48 (chant Havergal)
Canticles: Noble in B minor
Anthem: O pray for the peace of Jerusalem Howells
Hymns: 406; 368; 244
October 3rd: 15th Sunday after Trinity
Introit: O praise the Lord with me Frith
Psalm 132: plainsong
Canticles: plainsong with fauxburdons Morley
Anthem: My eyes for beauty pine Howells
Hymns: 241; 366; 475
November 7th: 3rd Sunday before Advent
Introit: Give us the wings of faith Bullock
Psalm 46 (chant from Luther)
Canticles: Brewer in D
Anthem: O for a closer walk with God Stanford
Hymns: 464; 476; 392
December 5th: 2nd Sunday of Advent
Introit: Into this world Buck
Psalm 75 (chant Garrett)
Canticles: Sumsion in G
Anthem: O Thou, the central orb Wood
Hymns: 18; 7; 252
All hymns at Evensong are taken from the New English Hymnal
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.