‘A cathedral choir in all but name’ is how Mr Edward Bevin of Friends of Cathedral Music described our choir. A true compliment and well deserved given the hard work and commitment put in weekly by the choristers, musical directors, organists, music committee, administrators and congregation. It is a true privilege to be a continuing part of the heritage and legacy of centuries of sacred music. This year, the choir will sing ‘Quatre motets’ by Duruflé, ‘Blessed city’ by Bairstow and Finzi’s ‘Lo the full final sacrifice’.
Thanks to Ben Lowry, News Letter Deputy Editor for his coverage
Thank you to the huge congregation at Evensong on Sunday afternoon, October 1st. The Festival Choral Evensong saw the Choir presented with a significant grant from the Friends of Cathedral Music to help develop musical tuition and training within the Church. The support for St George’s Parish Choir was fabulous.
Thank you especially to Mr and Mrs Bevin from St Alban’s who travelled from England to represent the Friends of Cathedral Music. Local representative and assistant treasurer Mr Donald Kerr presented the cheque for £20,000.
Mr Bevin, was delighted with the choir and will report back favourably to his colleagues in England. The award is the highest ever made to such a choir in all of Ireland.
We also welcomed seven new choristers at the service: Henry Greenlees, Connor Houston, David Johnston, William Magee, Eoghan McEnerney, Jake Rosetto and Billy Whitten.
On Wednesday evening, September 27th Bishop Alan Abernethy commissioned our Rector’s Churchwarden Mark Wardil as a Lay Reader. Rev. Kevin Graham, Warden of Readers, presented Mark alongside Andrew McFaul from Muckamore Parish.
On October 1st, a very special evensong will take place at 5.00pm in St. George’s Church, Belfast. The Friends of Cathedral Music will present the Parish Choir with a grant for £20,000 in order to further the work of the choir. The Parish Choir, made up of 19 choristers, 6 choral scholars and 10 gentlemen will sing the service, at which 7 new choristers will be installed into the choir, receiving their surplice and their own, personalised hymn book.
The choristers come from a variety of schools around Belfast and Lisburn and rehearse on Thursday evenings with the gentlemen and on Friday afternoons alongside the probationers or new recruits. The training of the choir is managed jointly by David and Maeve Falconer, David directs the choir, Maeve recruits and trains the probationers and provides one to one singing lessons for the 6 choral scholars. They are assisted at the organ on Sunday mornings by Mr Ian MacKrell, and at evensongs and festival services by Mr Mark McGrath. The choristers also receive lessons in Music theory from music under-graduate, Mr Ryan Garnham. The choristers pass into the back row seamlessly after voice break and, as choral scholars, may move on to university choral scholarships. This year Michael Hong leaves to take up a choral scholarship in Clare College, Cambridge while former organ scholar, Donal McCann takes up the position of organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge. Organ scholarships are also available at St George’s, with tuition provided by Mr Mark McGrath.
The Church of Ireland offers a rich variety of services, some based more loosely on the Book of Common Prayer, others based entirely on it. St George’s in Belfast and St Bartholomew’s in Dublin offer Choral Eucharists sung by advanced parish choirs of boys and men, using the BCP liturgy to its fullest. The Friends of Cathedral Music is a charity with a mission to maintain and progress Cathedral music. As such, it offers grants to cathedrals in order to help them to meet the costs of developing and maintaining the choirs. They have a special fund reserved for choirs made up of trebles and men. Although we are a parish church, the exceptional tradition and standards upheld in St George’s were deemed worthy of investment and the Parish Choir has been awarded a grant of £20,000. The choir is greatly indebted to Friends of Cathedral Music for this tremendous support and acknowledgement of the hard work and commitment from the Director of Music, teachers, organists, men and boys of St George’s Church, Belfast.
On Sunday 3 September, William Jeffrey was ordained deacon to serve in Killaney and Carryduff.
The ordination took place in the recently refurbished Ballyholme Parish Church. Bishop Harold Miller ordained four deacons for internships in Down and Dromore and the preacher at the service was Canon Dr Christina Baxter CBE. Christina is an Anglican theologian and was Principal of St John’s College, Nottingham, for 15 years, retiring in 2012.
Also ordained alongside William were Andrew Irwin to serve in Donaghcloney, Myrtle Morrison for Craigavon and Maithrie White–Dundas to serve in Ballyholme (pictured below).
Speaking ahead of his ordination, William said: “Born in Newtownards, I grew up in Dundonald and Holywood and now live in East Belfast. I’ve been married to Alison for over 29 years and we have three sons.
“Prior to my full–time training at CITI, I worked for almost 33 years as a Northern Ireland Civil Servant.
“My Christian journey to date has been largely influenced by both Anglicanism and Presbyterianism and my sending parish is St George’s Belfast. I am very thankful to my parents for nurturing me in the Christian faith from childhood and pointing me in the right direction.
“Within the life of the Church I have a keen interest in mission – in all the various forms that this takes. I have been privileged to experience overseas work amongst the abandoned street boys of Peru and this summer I was on a CMSI/CITI placement to the Diocese of Northern Zambia.
“As a consequence, an inspiring verse for me is from the Gospel of St Matthew, Chapter 25 and verse 40:– “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”(NRSV).
Today we presented Billy Jeffrey with a stole in advance of his Ordination as a Deacon on Sunday 3rd September at 6pm in Ballyholme. Billy will be ordained to serve his year as Deacon in Carryduff. Billy recently visited our CMS Mission Partners, Keith and Lynne Scott in Zambia. This was a placement as part of his training for ordination at CITI and you can read his blog of his visit written for CMSI on their website http://www.cmsireland.org/
At this time we also remember Ian Mills who spent six weeks with us last year as part of his CITI placement. Ian will be ordained this Thursday (24th August) in Antrim at 8pm and will serve in Agherton Parish in Portstewart.
Congratulations to our former Organ Scholar Donal McCann who achieved two A*s and one D1 (which apparently is a distinction in pre-university music) in his A level exams. Therefore he has achieved, indeed slightly exceeded the required grades in order to be able to take up the prestigious organ scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge next term, thus adding his name to a long and distinguished list that includes the names of Sir David Willcocks, Sir Andrew Davis, Thomas Trotter, John Butt, Dan Hyde, James Vivian and many others. His first engagement there is at a concert with the choir on 16th September.
Our choral scholars have also all performed extremely well in their A levels. Michael Hong has been accepted for Natural Sciences and a choral scholarship at Clare College, Cambridge with 4 A*s, Ewan Docherty has been accepted for Languages at the University of Stirling and Oliver Rhodes takes his place at the University of Aberystwyth to study Computing and Software Design. We look forward to seeing them in the choir stalls whenever they return for holidays.
Some pictures of our Parish Lunch today to raise funds for our mission partners Keith and Lynne Scott who are working with CMS in Zambia. Great food and friendship and money raised for a partnership that is very much treasured by us at St George’s.