Monday, 9 January 2012

Choral Tradition at St Mary's Richmond

On Sunday morning the choir at St Mary's Richmond were second to none! They gave quite the best rendering of William Boyce's Examine Me that I have ever heard. 
(not St Mary's but the only youtube recording I can find!)

St Mary's has a well established choral tradition and 5 of its members have been awarded the RSCM Gold Medal - an award made to only 30 singers each year. This perhaps gives you some idea of what they are capable of. The choristers are aged 6-18 and they are a lively, engaging group who happily chat away about sport and art and holidays and hair dressing courses they are taking, yet, at a moment's notice, are capable of depths of concentration and musical discipline most of us would find out of our reach. Colin Hicks, the Organist and Music Director clearly knows how to train and inspire - and also how to make the Harrison and Harrison organ (one of the best in any parish church in the country) the true servant of each genre of music, producing a wide and subtle range of sounds. The choir look and sound as though they are loving every moment of it and so, of course, this lifts the worship and the spirits of the worshipper. 

Ruth Gedye Window, Richmond St Mary
Artist Alan Davis

After the service, which included an interesting and thoughtful sermon by reader, Joy Hornsby, I spoke to one parent who was telling me that all her children had been in the choir - actually starting at another church and then transfering to Richmond. It had been a wonderful start for them all, helping their confidence, allowing them to make friends and travel and, in one case, leading on to a career. As you wander round the church there is also visible evidence of the central place that music has played in the life of young people in Richmond. Ruth Gedye sang with the choir from age 8; sadly, when she was 18, she died from Leukaemia.  A glorious window has been designed and dedicated in her memory; the artist is Alan David of Lythe, Whitby and the inspiration for the window came from Ruth's favoutrite anthem, O Thou the Central Orb (music by Charles Wood and lyrics by Henry Ramsden Bramley.) 


Ruth Gedye Window, Richmond St Mary
Artist Alan Davis, detail

O thou the central orb of righteous love,
Pure beam of the most High, Eternal light of this our wintry world.
Thy radiance bright awakes new joy in faith, Hope soars above.
Come quickly come and let Thy glory shine, gilding
our darksome heaven with rays divine.
Thy saints with holy lustre round Thee move as stars about
Thy throne, set in the height of God's ordaining counsel
as Thy sight gives measur'd grace to each, Thy power to prove.
Let Thy bright beams disperse the gloom of sin.
Our nature all shall feel eternal day. In fellowship with thee,
transforming day to souls erewhile unclean, now pure within.

Ruth Gedye Window, Richmond St Mary
Artist Alan Davis, detail

Thank you, St Mary's Richmond, for an uplifting  Epiphany Sunday and for the choral tradition which inspires us all year round and which can be enjoyed by young and old, storing up for us experiences and memories, texts and images, music and friends that see us through a life time.

Ruth Gedye Window, Richmond St Mary
Artist Alan Davis, detail
with Bamburgh Castle

Ruth Gedye Window, Richmond St Mary
Artist Alan Davis, detail

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