The Church Choir

‘There has probably been a choir at our church for at least 150 years,’ says our organist and choirmaster, Kevin Grafton . . .

At Christmas time the choir performs a special carol concert.

The choir sings a wide range of music from across the centuries. They meet every Friday evening to practice in church from 8.00 - 9.30 pm

They are lead by the organist and choirmaster, Kevin Grafton.  If you enjoy singing choral music, why not consider joining the choir?

The choir has essentially two functions: to lead the congregation in worship (in hymns etc) and to offer up worship on behalf of the congregation (in anthems etc), which it does at 10am services and 6.30pm evensongs, not to mention most weddings. With a weekly practice of 1½ hours as well, this demands real dedication from choir members. They also sing in the Christmas Concert and Carol Service, to a very high standard, most unusual in a village choir.

There are currently 18 members, of whom 7 have been members for over 30 years! Here are some comments from some of them:

Clive Southgate: I joined the choir as a treble over 35 years ago. Anyone who knows me well may tell you it was ‘Sermon Cricket’, the rules of which I’ll explain to anyone who is interested, that kept me coming back for more! However, in truth since the day I started it was the beauty of choral music that got me hooked. Naturally, over the years my faith has deepened as a result of hearing God's word and gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the words I sing.

Maureen Reynolds: I love the camaraderie of being in the choir – it’s like being part of a family. It’s a real pleasure to sing Church Music. I especially enjoy the atmosphere of Christmas midnight communion when everyone gathers at 11.10 pm on Christmas Eve before the service begins to sing carols by candlelight.

Anne Stevens: Singing in the choir helps me to reflect on my worship at St Bartholomew’s; for me music, whether uplifting or quiet and contemplative, can be a wonderful way of communicating and celebrating faith.

Brian Osgood: For me, the role of the choir is to lead the singing and to broaden the congregation’s experience of sacred music.  We are so lucky to have such a good organist and choirmaster in Kevin Grafton.

The Worship Band

The band leads the worship at the 10 a.m. service on the first Sunday of the month. The music is usually emailed to band members a few days in advance and we rehearse together for about 45 minutes before the service.

Bill Lattimer: When I first joined St Bart's, I took up the bass guitar so that I could play in the worship group (Clive had already bagged the rhythm guitar spot). My acerbic teenage son, a bass player himself, told me: 'Good plan, Dad, the bass is the easiest instrument in the world to learn how to play badly'.  He was so right!

Clive Southgate: It is an honour to be able to lead people in worship through playing modern music in the church worship band. I believe there is a place for music both ancient and modern and all things in between. The combination of scripture-based lyrics and emotion-filled music of some of the modern worship songs can bring a different dimension to worship.

Penny Beacom: I started out in the worship band as a teenage member of YPF on my flute. I have since graduated to the piano and really enjoy playing a range of contemporary music. I like the fact that we play the songs as they are sung rather than sticking rigidly to the notes and rhythms on the page - or maybe the band are simply putting up with my misplaying of things . . . ? It's great to be able to be part of the musical life of the church and I enjoy leading the music for worship.

Deborah Vigis:  Like Penny I, too, played in a worship band in my youth and so joining the music group was just the excuse I needed to dust off the guitar that had been sitting in the cupboard for nearly 20 years! Playing in the band has given me a great sense of fulfilment and helped me to feel really part of the Church family.  I was once told that ‘playing the guitar is like riding a bike, once learnt, never forgotten’, although I still feel I could benefit from some stabilizers occasionally!  

Russell Edwards: My involvement in Hope Fest 2009 introduced Clive and me to the Cajon, or portable pew as I like to call it. It was an instant hit with us, able to produce a convincing, but not too loud, bass drum and snare sound. I treated myself, spent a few days practicing, and the band gained a percussion section!

Do come along to enjoy worship in a more informal style or better still, please contact Clive Southgate if you play an instrument and would be happy to join in!