The History of Music at St James's Church

Music


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The first available records originate from the 1880s when we learn that an organ was bought and that there was an organist and a choir. Over the years there have been many changes and developments in church music and how it has been delivered.  

The History of Organists/Choirmasters 

Apparently in 1886 the organist was earning £30 and the organ blower £4 15s 6d. The first organists remained in their posts for many years and new ones were chosen from many applicants, unlike today when churches struggle to find an organist. Have a look at Organists/Choirmasters through the years which shows what happened from when records began up until 2017.

• Mark Blackwell, organist and choir master for three years, retired in April 2018. As a result locum organists were employed and Martin Hinckley, a choir member, again took over liaising with them and directing the choir.
• After ten months Thom Stanbury was appointed organist/choirmaster. Thom is General Manager of the Hounslow Arts Trust, which runs the Watermans arts centre in Brentford. He read music at Royal Holloway, where organ was his principal study, and he was involved with both the Chapel Choir and the smaller chamber choir. He has played for a number of churches and been involved in scratch choirs. Thom's vision "is that music can and should be a key element of worship, strengthening and adding resonance and relevance to the work of a parish church. It is of a choir that takes joy in together unlocking a new work, or revisiting a familiar one, to find the truest possible performance and understanding". 

These bullet points only show some information from this period. The Annual Parochial Church Meeting Reports show the latest reports from most teams and groups.

The History of the Organ  

The organ, originally built by Bishop for St Peter’s, Eaton Square in the 1830s, was bought for £150 by Revd Fitz Wygram in 1874. Have a look at The Organ through the years which shows what happened from when records began up until 2017.

• Bernie Whitmill started major work to renovate and improve the church’s organ in January 2017 and this work continued for two years. Have a look at the photo album, Organ Renovation.

These bullet points only show some information from this period. The Annual Parochial Church Meeting Reports show the latest reports from most teams and groups.

The History of the Choir 

Choir ZoomThe choir expenses in 1886 were £14 13s. The summer of 1886 saw the first choir treat for the men, an excursion to Portsmouth. "This was to show the parish’s appreciation of all the voluntary work that they did in uplifting the services." Have a look at St James's Choir through the years which shows what happened from when records began up until 2017.

• The parish communion services and special services continued to be accompanied by the organ with the choir singing regularly once a month and also at various special services.
 When Mark Blackwell, organist and choir master for three years, retired in April 2018, Martin Hinckley, a choir member, again took over directing the choir. During that time the choir grew in size by attracting new members, some from the congregation and also other singer friends.
• Soon after Thom Stanbury arrived in the spring of 2019, he introduced some psalms (set to plainsong and to Anglican chants) for Holy Week, together with works by composers from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The Tenebrae service for Good Friday included many plainsong psalms as well as congregational hymns.
There was a focus on introducing psalms to the 9:30 Parish Communion service, with settings from hymns, to Anglican chants, to responsorial settings in which the congregation sing a response to the choir’s singing of the psalm verses.
Choral Evensong, with sung responses, introit, anthem, and hymns, was re-introduced on three Sundays in the year. For these, as in previous years, the choir benefitted from being joined by a few semi-regular guests from other choirs.
• From the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020 Thom continued holding weekly choir practices, but on Zoom, see the image. 
• The choir contributed enthusiastically to providing music for the streamed services from the very beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic lockdown. Thom sent out music and mp4s to choir members and encouraged them to record themselves singing the hymns, communion service sections and anthems. When he received the recordings, he put them all together for inclusion in the Sunday 9.30am Parish Services on Facebook and YouTube.
• From September 2020 Thom held hybrid choir practices, with some singers online and some singers, safely distanced, in church.

These bullet points only show some information from this period. The Annual Parochial Church Meeting Reports show the latest reports from most teams and groups.

The History of St James's Players  

St James's Players started life as the 'Travellers’, a group of about half a dozen adult musicians and singers, in 1987. It accompanied the Sunday evening 'Prayer ‘n Praise' services and later started to accompany the All Age Service on the first Sunday of the month. Have a look at St James's Players through the years which shows what happened from when records began up until 2017.

• When the new ‘Together at Eleven' service, created to meet especially the needs of families, was started in 2017, the more modern songs were accompanied by music through the new sound system.
 At the same time there were fewer All Age services but they were still accompanied by the Players. 
 The Players could not meet during the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

These bullet points only show some information from this period. The Annual Parochial Church Meeting Reports show the latest reports from most teams and groups.

The History of Concerts and Recitals

Recitals and concerts have been held in the church, probably since Revd Fitz Wygram was vicar, performed by young and old alike. Concerts and recitals have been, and still are, performed in the church by many different local community groups. Also, over the years, St James's own musicians have put on recitals for various charities and for their own pleasure. Have a look at Concerts & Recitals through the years which shows what happened from when records began up until 2017.

• Since the church audio equipment was upgraded and with the addition of new special lighting effects, the church began to be in more demand for community concerts, especially by stars such as Alistair Griffin and a string quartet.

These bullet points only show some information from this period. The Annual Parochial Church Meeting Reports show the latest reports from most teams and groups.
 

Music Painted lilies Music