March 2018

Our “Come and Sing” on Palm Sunday is well established, and this year we will be looking at three works; the Kyrie from Vierne's Messe Solennelle; the Cantique de Jean Racine by Fauré, and the “Requiem” by Fauré.  These pieces make an interesting group to lead into the drama of Holy Week. The Kyrie is anything but penitential, but is a real cry of anguish with many fff markings, while the Cantique de Jean Racine (which was written when the composer was just nineteen) has words of calm and hope – the translation of the opening is -

Word of God, one with the Most High,
in Whom alone we have our hope,
Eternal Day of heaven and earth,
We break the silence of the peaceful night;
Saviour Divine, cast your eyes upon us!

The Requiem needs no introduction as it is so well known. We last sang it in 2012, and this time, as a departure from the norm, we are going to ask all the sopranos to sing the lovely “Pie Jesu”.  Lynn James will over-see the event with her amazing way of  getting the best out of any group of singers, and my brother Martin will sing the baritone solos. Full details appear on the poster. Do join us for what will undoubtedly be a fine musical and spiritually uplifting experience.

Just like all society's various groups, the world of the church organist is full of stories and anecdotes, but recently a true story  worth repeating came to light. My good friend Chris and I met on the day we enrolled at university, and we have remained in touch ever since that day. For him it was something of a drastic change as it meant leaving his beloved Shropshire to where, after completing the course, he quickly returned.  For over fifty years he played a tiny, but exquisite village church organ, and only recently resigned as a mark of his total disillusionment with the Church of England and in particular the way in which the hierarchy seem to be completely unaware of the problems at parish level (but that's another story....).

However, on occasions he returns to the organ bench to help out, and it so happened that he was asked to play for a funeral where he was requested to play the famous “Widor Toccata”. Chris explained that he was happy to perform the toccata, but that the organ of just a few stops wouldn't do justice to the piece, as it was designed to be played on the largest organ in Paris in the early 1900's. Noting a rather disappointed response from the widower, as an alternative Chris suggested that he could provide a CD recording of Stephen Cleobury on the organ of Kings College Cambridge, and so it was agreed.

At the end of the service, Mr Cleobury's excellent recording boomed out of the church's speakers, and when it had finished Chris emerged from the organ (concealed from the body of the church) and was rather surprised when the old verger appeared saying how much he had enjoyed Chris' playing, and it just went to show that spending money on tuning the organ was well worthwhile. There followed more compliments expressing appreciation for “getting the best” out of the organ, and how fortunate they were to have such a skilled musician in their community..... Chris smiled, took the compliments and set off home......

Nigel Davies  

Music for March

4th    am    Out of the Deep (Requiem) – John Rutter   Missa L'Ora Passa – Viadana

11th  am    All-age Service for Mothering Sunday

18th am    Ave Verum – Nigel Davies                       Ireland in C

25th am    Surely He Hath Borne our Griefs (Messiah) – G F Handel    Willan in D

        pm    Come and Sing “Requiem”- Fauré, and other pieces

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