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St Sepulchre's - the church that doesn't want musicians


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Interesting that the church website, which seems current and up-to-date, still has a seperate page for 'Hiring'.


St. Sepulchre’s is an ideal venue for concerts or rehearsals. Conveniently located near several transport hubs, it has a large and well-equipped main space, a separate rehearsal room, modern facilities, and green rooms available on request.


and, whilst it seems that St. Sep's has become a branch of Holy Trinity Brompton, the tradition of singing Choral Evensong remains and is being funded..



Evensong is a traditional service with beautiful choral settings of scripture and prayers, set alongside readings and a short sermon from the Bible. St. Sepulchre’s has a rich choral heritage and the music is led by our superb professional choir. It is a great way to unwind and refresh at the end of a busy day.


We have been extremely fortunate to have received some very generous donations, to fund elements of our choral worship here at St. Sepulchre’s. We are particularly grateful to the following:


The Mercers’ Company – who are funding the costs associated with employing our Director of Music, Peter Asprey


The Friends of the Musicians’ Chapel – who are funding an Organ Scholarship here at St. Sepulchre’s, currently held by Ashley Wagner


The Musicians’ Company – who are funding a choral scholarship at St. Sepulchre’s, currently held by Emily Meredith

St. John’s College, Oxford – who have been our Patron at St. Sepulchre for more than 350 years, and who are funding a choral scholarship at St. Sepulchre’s, currently held by Eavan Dowse”


The website also says:


We also have a rich heritage as ‘The Musicians’ Church’, and are passionate about our ministry and mission amongst the musicians’ community and using excellence in music to the glory of God.


All of which doesn't seem to add up or sit happily with https://slippedisc.c...-its-musicians/


Very strange!!!

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Ashley Wagner is no longer organ scholar at St Sepulchres, so I doubt that the website is as up to date as it might have us believe. Ashley left that position last year when he moved to Birmingham where he is studying at Birmingham Conservatoire and is also organ scholar at Birmingham Cathedral.


NB the organ came up in a discussion last year. I'm not sure what its current condition is, but if restoration is needed this would now seem unlikely.



Sad footnote: I learnt recently that the church where I grew up, spending many years in the choir and falling in love with the organ, got taken over by the happy clappy brigade. The organ is no longer present and is replaced by a projector screen and a baptistry has been dug where the choir stalls once stood.

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It has been noted elsewhere that several groups that currently use the church already have confirmed bookings for next year.

When is a contract not a contract?



And, I think, St. Sep's has said that it will honour all bookings made for 2018!


One thing that concerns me is the amount of emotive language being used by the press and others about this issue. Of course, it is 'silly season' and the press have nothing better to do than to make any negotiation between the church and the hiring bodies even more difficult than it probably already is!


I don't know St. Sep's but I do know that it is an off-shoot of Holy Trinity Brompton which isn't where I would choose to go to church on a Sunday. I suspect that the large numbers attending both services on a Sunday and midweek 'worship' activities make space at a premium. I might be wrong here.


I don't think it is about 'classical' music versus 'trendy' or whatever and I think that is a dangerous road to go down. What I will say is that I do think that the whole business seems to have been handled very badly - but, sadly, diplomacy isn't taught in theological college - nor, dare I say it, in music faculties either!!.

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Some years ago I for a while attended St Michael's Cornhill where only the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible were (and I believe still are) used. The incumbent at that time, who made quite a name for himself for his political views - frequently preaching them from the pulpit - was also in charge of St Sepulchre's. I decided to give Tuesday Evensong there a go, but was most disappointed to find that the congregation was tiny (unlike at St Michael's on Sundays where the church was nearly full).


It is very unsettling to find one's chosen flavour of worship in a particular church overturned. However, no church can survive or maintain its character for ever in the absence of a congregation. I think it is unfair to dismiss "evangelicals" out of hand when often the only alternative is to close down the church. Many churches which have been taken over by evangelicals have restored their fortunes and filled them with worshippers, including the young. I know of one church - All Saints, Woodford Wells in East London - which has done an amazing job of attracting congregations of many hundreds on Sundays to its various services, which include both band-led worship and traditional style worship with choir and organ. They are currently in the process of raising tens of thousands to restore the organ. A CLESO organ recital held there last year attracted an audience of hundreds and raised £2,500 for the organ fund in one afternoon.


The magnificent St Peter's, Brighton where I learnt the organ as a youngster, has in the last few years been taken over by Holy Trinity, Brompton. I believe it was dying on its feet before they restored its fortunes. The other day I popped into a church in the centre of Durham. The church had clearly had an evangelical makeover. There were volunteers sitting waiting to talk to visitors. "Do you have an organ?" I asked, rather perplexed by the layout. "Yes, it's over there. Would you like to try it?" I was was delighted to do so. It was in perfect working order and clearly regularly used.


I am full of admiration for those who get off their feet and breathe new life into the Church of England. The church is there first and foremost to worship God. As an organist I see it as my duty to work with all and sundry in the church towards that end - I see it as a fascinating challenge rather than feeling that the place is collapsing around my ears.

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was the church in Durham, a one manual?, if so, they were told it HAD to be a pipe organ, to meet the restructuring guide lines (St, Nicolas) I was a worshiper there on a few occasions.

I was a member of a " happy clappy, band led and organless church, and for all its local criticism (some called it a cult), it attracted 4-500 people every week, and about 300, when students were not in residence. I loved it, BUT also went to the Cathedral on sunday afternoons every week, so I was in both camps, as they say. Am now a King James and BCP person, even to the extent of attending different church at christmas eve, 15 miles away, as there was no "bells and smells" at that one, as there was where my dad was organist


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It was indeed St Nicholas in the market square, but the organ is now a three manual electronic instrument dated 1998. Like you I love King James and BCP. In the last few years I have been organist in both evangelical and anglo-catholic churches (my current church uses the Roman rite although it is CoE!). I find that if you make a real effort to get on with the incumbent and are positive, friendly, professional and amenable and contribute to the life of the church, you will normally be able to influence the music in ways to your liking, even if you don't always get your own way!

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At my dads church (Witton Gilbert), when he was the organist and choir master, had a fine Harrison (being in Durham), but when a young organist went there in the 1980's, it was soon replaced with a Copeman Hart analogue toaster, the organist at St. Nicks, bought a few people to see it,

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