At St James's we believe music to be a gift of God and so all music which takes place in our church is offered to God in worship and thanksgiving. The ministry of music is an extremely important part of our parish’s life, witness and mission. In this, as in many regards, the church is a major focus in the local community. Local schools, community organisations and other music-makers seek to use the church for musical occasions.
Music takes an important part at Parish Communion and All-age Services on Sundays, at festivals and special days during the year and at weddings and funerals. Choral Evensongs take place every now and then.
Music in church tends to be very visible - certainly audible! What you see and hear during a service though is the tip of quite a large iceberg with nine tenths of the work having already happened in advance, usually weeks or months beforehand. The organist, Mark Blackwell, and the vicar will have chosen the hymns and the organist will have chosen and practised the music to be played at various points in each particular service. The music is carefully chosen to fit with the liturgical theme of each service. The organist makes sure that the organ is maintained and tuned and chooses the anthems to be sung by the choir, also chosen with the service themes in mind. The anthems are rehearsed at Friday evening practices. Choir members show a good deal of regular commitment, especially on cold, wet winter evenings, or equally on warm, sunny summer ones! On some Sundays, you may arrive early enough to hear the ensemble, the St James’s Players, practising for the service. All the hymns and other music have been arranged for the orchestra by their conductor, Martin Hinckley, with the parts created on computer and uploaded to the church website. There is a fine three-manual Bishop organ, a boudoir grand piano and a clavinova. St James's is continually keen to widen the range of its musical life and enhance the inclusive value of musical participation.
The church has also become a rehearsal venue and is the regular home for the chamber choir Concordia Voices and the local Rock Choir. Concordia Voices choir has performed many concerts in the church, sung during some services, given a Good Friday Meditation of verse and music, including the Allegri Miserere, and sung several evensongs for Candlemas.