THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS IN OUR HISTORIC CHURCHES

1st December 2022, 7-8.30pm,

All Hallows by the Tower, London EC3R 5BJ

Narrator: Zeb Soanes

Presented by the Royal School of Church Music & the Churches Conservation Trust


Following a successful partnership for the virtual event The Big Christmas Carol Service (winter 2020), the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) and the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) are once again teaming up to host another unique and exciting collaboration, showcasing the continued importance of church buildings, engaging in the history of congregational singing, and exploring the living tradition of carols.

Christmas Past, Present, and Future: The Sounds of Christmas in our Historic Churches will explore the nature of traditional and modern carols and their symbolism within our churches in a unique narrative combining words, live choral music, and participative song. Classic FM presenter, concert host and author Zeb Soanes will bring to life the tale of these intertwined histories. Tickets for the live event on the 1 December cost £25 per person and include the festive concert, drinks reception, and a mince pie

About the event, Zeb Soanes says:

“I am hugely looking forward to this festive concert on the very first day of December, taking the spirit of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ to discover how the celebration of the Nativity has changed through time.

It is a real pleasure to work with both RSCM and CCT. Having grown up in Suffolk and Norfolk, the counties with the most churches in the UK, I am well aware of the vital work these charities undertake in preserving both the fabric of these historic treasures and filling them with musical and spiritual breath.”

Hugh Morris, Director of RSCM, says

It is really exciting to be offering a completely fresh take on a Christmas Concert. Beautiful words and beautiful music combine to enable us to look at Christmas past, present and future; and to celebrate how both RSCM and CCT are part of a living heritage, supporting churches, communities, and worship.”


Churches, by design, provide the perfect setting for music of every kind both acoustically and aesthetically. However, if you were to visit a church on Christmas Day 1644, you would have heard, at best, some verses from Psalms, chanted first by the clerk, and then raggedly repeated by the congregation. Since then, it is clear to see a great passion for worshiping through song emerging in a way that is both reflective of the political and social setting of the time. From slight tuneful murmurings during the Reformation to theatrical styles of worship in the Victorian era, to the inspirational carols we know and love today. During this unique, interactive, event, Zeb will explore what we may come to expect from carols in the future by reflecting on their journey over the past 400 years.

All Hallows by the Tower

In addition to filling the oldest church in the City of London with festive sounds, a digital recording of the event will also be made available, providing those who are unable to join in person or those who simply wish to relive the evening with the opportunity to listen, learn, and enjoy the event online from 14 December at 7pm at the very reasonable price of £5.  All sale proceeds will be split evenly between CCT and RSCM to contribute to each charity’s important work.

Tickets & further info https://www.visitchurches.org.uk/what-s-on/the-sounds-of-christmas-in-our-historic-churches.html

Zeb Soanes

 

The Royal School of Church Music announces the ‘Platinum Project’, a special choral music commission from award-winning British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones to commemorate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022.

In Our Service’ is a 4-minute anthem with themes of service and dedication, celebrating the RSCM’s Royal Patron, HM The Queen. The text has a deliberately wide appeal to ensure it has a lasting value beyond the Jubilee itself.

Encouraging for all

Written as an attractive and uplifting piece of music, which is really enjoyable to sing, ‘In Our Service’ is adaptable for different ensembles/situations – 4-part/SATB choir and organ, unison/2-part with piano and leadsheet, and a full symphonic orchestration available for hire. Music packs are available to download from the RSCM’s online shop at £19.95, together with optional backing tracks, videos and other resources to inspire others to take part.

Designed to be performed by a wide variety of groups, from cathedral and church choirs, choral societies and chamber choirs to community choirs and in schools, RSCM is inviting all choirs to join in singing ‘In Our Service’ and to share their performances via the RSCM’s website and on social media using the hashtag #RSCMplatinum to create a wonderful, collaborative celebration of this unique occasion through shared musical expression.

RSCM Platinum Project

Listen to a full performance of ‘In Our Service’ sung by St Martin’s Voices, directed by Andrew Earis, with organist Polina Sosnina: In Our Service (mp3)

Hugh Morris, Director of RSCM, says:

‘We wanted to be able to celebrate our Royal Patron’s unique Jubilee; and for us as a charity to commission this new piece was a fitting way of doing that. We have made sure that it’s accessible, easy to learn, and rewarding to sing, and very much intend it to be an ‘Anthem for all’, be that cathedral or church choir, community choir, school choir; indeed pretty much any group of singers. As a charity, RSCM works to encourage, nurture and inspire musicians in a wide range of contexts. I warmly encourage you to include singing this piece in your Jubilee celebration planning; and to join us on an exciting journey for this project over the next few months. Keep us up to date with your progress on social media!’

Thomas Hewitt Jones says:                                        

‘I was delighted to be asked by the Royal School of Church Music to write a choral anthem to celebrate HM the Queen, their Royal Patron, on her incredibly special jubilee. Typifying selfless service to her country, her very existence encourages togetherness – so the opportunity to celebrate her with a new and inclusive, yet weighty, piece of choral music that can be sung by choirs all around the UK really resonated for me.

When searching for words to set to music, it became apparent that many of the Queen’s royal speeches over the years have contained pertinent and thoughtful messages, all relevant to today’s world. I wanted to incorporate many of these in the anthem, so I decided to write new words inspired by certain quotes which particularly stood out. I hope that the result is a vibrant, uplifting (and, if I’m honest, quite emotionally-charged) piece of music which celebrates both the reign of our incredible monarch, and the ever-valuable medium of choral singing – arguably one of the most natural, uplifting and unifying experiences of the human condition.’

RSCM hopes that this special commission will not only encourage groups to come together to sing, but will also draw attention to its wider activities, aims and vision as it approaches its centenary in 2027. One of RSCM’s most important annual activities is Music Sunday, which celebrates the role of church music in worship and the dedication of all church musicians, and aims to reach out into the community and join with others. This year Music Sunday takes place on 12th June, the weekend after the Jubilee.


About the Royal School of Church Music

The RSCM is the Salisbury-based, national, independent charity supporting, nurturing and sustaining church music. As the central ‘home’ of church music, RSCM provides relevant education, training and resources to its membership, the wider church, and beyond. It is committed to encouraging the best of music in worship, and to advocating music as a tool for growth of the church.

The RSCM supports thousands of Affiliated churches across the UK and worldwide through its international partners. In addition, it also supports many schools and Individual members, and its work is sustained by thousands of Friends, Regular Givers and other donors.

RSCM is an open, life-long learning organisation, offering face-to-face and distance education and training through its programmes, published resources, courses and activities.

Founded by Sir Sydney Nicholson in 1927, the RSCM’s original emphases were English and choral. Now, in a diverse international context, the RSCM’s work is far broader and more diverse, and aims to make all its work ecumenical in purpose, nature and content.

HM The Queen is RSCM’s Royal patron, and its president is The Most Revd and Rt Hon The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. The organisation celebrates its centenary in 2027.

rscm.org.uk

About Thomas Hewitt Jones

Thomas Hewitt Jones is an award-winning composer of contemporary classical and commercial music. Since winning the BBC Young Composer Competition in his teens, his music has been published by many of the major music publishers and is frequently heard in concert and on radio, TV and in the cinema.

Thomas’s diverse catalogue includes small instrumental, orchestral, choral and ballet works, and his large number of choral titles includes seasonal carols. ‘What Child is This?’ (OUP) has become a choral classic of recent years, garnering large numbers of performances each season. In 2021, he released ‘Can you hear me?’, an acclaimed response to the COVID19 pandemic.

thomashewittjones.com