St Mary’s has a strong musical tradition and the music in the church is much appreciated by the congregation. During the course of a month a variety of musical styles is used in services – ranging from youth services and family services through to choral evensong and choral eucharist. There is growing interest amongst some of the youngsters in the parish for music in church and from time to time services are held where the youth will play their own instruments and make their own music. Music is a precious gift and should not be the preserve of only a few selected people. However, during a church service, it should always be performed to the very best of the performers’ ability and that is what we strive to do at St Mary’s
St Mary’s is fortunate to have a superb two manual organ, installed in 1991. The instrument was built by Walkers in the 1960s with electric action and was originally installed at the home of Mr Jack Britton in his magnificent home near Pucklechurch, on the outskirts of Bristol. The church acquired the organ on the death of Mr Britton and it was re-erected in the church with an additional open diapason stop on the pedal organ. Every year, a celebrity recital is given on the organ, to a very good audience. The church has been most fortunate to have had Dame Gillian Weir giving the recital on two occasions.
The church has a strong robed choir of about 30 voices which sings at one service each Sunday. The pattern of attendance of the choir reflects the diversity of services during any month of the year. Thus, the choir will sing a variety of services from Prayer Book (1662) evensong through to Family Services. The choir enjoys singing in other venues and has sung evensong in a number of cathedrals in England and Wales and in the Republic of Ireland. All members of the choir are also active members of the church so there is good fellowship amongst the choristers. The choir rehearses once a week (on Fridays at 7.00pm) and many members then go to enjoy a well-deserved drink in the pub across the road from the church!
The Director of Music
David Shaw is the present holder of the post. He has been director of music at St Mary’s for 21 years. When he was appointed, the choir had been disbanded for many years. But soon after his appointment, a choir was reformed and local churches were extremely generous in giving used robes to the church to “get us started”. From that humble beginning the choir grew in size and ability and before very long new robes had been purchased. David enjoys composing choral music from time to time and one of the settings for Holy Communion used regularly in St Mary’s is his composition. He has given a number of recitals on the organ.
Music in Worship
Some thoughts by David Shaw.
We can and should use the gift of the arts to the very best of our abilities to glorify God. Music is a powerful medium in which our thoughts and emotions can be interpreted, expressed and transmitted. Each person interprets music differently thus in any situation one person will find help/inspiration/solace/comfort in one particular piece of music whereas another may not.
Music can uplift the soul in exultation and can provide solace and comfort to the distressed. Music has been a part of worship probably since worship began. Everyone can make music, whether it be banging a drum or singing the most ethereal of compositions. Each has its own part to play; each will have a particular meaning and significance to a listener. In any service, there is a time for silence, a time for quiet instrumental and/or choral music and a time for congregational music so that people can express themselves according to their own individual needs. Church musicians of all genres have an awesome responsibility to provide this art form to the very best of their ability in order to enhance the worship of all members of the congregation.