Music is a large part of the life and activity of St Nicholas Church Old Marston. Neil Barker is our director of music who oversees our music. Below you will found out about some of our activities past and present – just click on one of the titles to reveal more information and below are some pictures click on one to enlarge. During the pandemic, most activities were put on hold, and as we emerge from the pandemic, we will be reflecting on how we do things in the future, but will let you know on our website and Facebook page.
We have an adult choir and a junior choir who take part in our regular Sunday morning services as well as participate in various outside events. For the junior choir no prior musical knowledge or experience is required; this will be taught as the prospective chorister progresses working towards medals using the RSCM Voice for Life scheme. We sing all sorts of music from the earliest choral music right through to modern worship songs and choruses.
There is an established choir of adult voices at St Nicholas’, and more singers are always welcome. We are particularly looking to hear from male singers (both tenors and basses). Do get in touch if you would like to know more.
Pick up a leaflet in church for more information. Contact: Neil Barker. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have an active music group which participates in the All Age Worship service at 10.00am and the 4pm service. Members turn up when they can so we have a different group of musicians every time. As a result of the pandemic, services are in a process of change and includes the music group and when they play. Please contact Neil Barker for more information.
Smaller groups of musicians also play at other particular services.
All-Age Music Group Information:
The music group normally practices immediately before a service for about an hour. So if you are interested in joining the group then please contact Neil in advance.
Types of music
The music group plays lots of different styles of music from modern worship songs, to rounds and Taizé. There’s something for everyone so do come along and join us.
We have lots of different instruments in the music group already and are keen to have even more. Here’s a selection of instruments that we have been able to include:
Before the pandemic on the 2nd and 4th Sunday evenings of each month we had a service of Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer and on every 4th Sunday of the month at 6pm our choirs would sing at this service. A permanent feature of the Church of England’s worship and a key source for its doctrine, the Book of Common Prayer is loved for the beauty of its language and its services are widely used. This Evening Prayer service from the Book of Common Prayer, consists of a spoken penitential introduction, including the General Confession Verses and Responses also known as Preces, one or more Psalms concluding with the Gloria Patri, two lessons from the Bible, several prayers and collects, and an anthem sung by the choir.
The first Bible lesson is generally taken from the Old Testament and the second from the New Testament. Two canticles, the Magnificat or Song of Mary and the Nunc dimittis or Song of Simeon, follow the Old and New Testament readings respectively. The service may also include one or more hymns.
In addition to music within our services, we also arrange concerts as well. A regular bi-annual event is our Music for a Summer Evening. Previous concerts include a choral service at St Thomas Church Elsfield to raise money for repairs to the tower and a Bach Cello concert with Benjamin Dry playing some of the much-loved Bach Cello Suites.
Royal School of Church Music Affiliation
Training and Courses
RSCM courses & Workshops in the UK
The RSCM organises courses for all those involved in church music whether singers, organists, choir directors, other musicians or music group leaders. Residential and non-residential occur around the country for children, young people and adults of all abilities.
Local committees organise regional events. Members of our choirs attend workshops and area festival services organised by RSCM Oxford,
The RSCM coordinates the Voice for Life Scheme which is used to train the Junior Choir. A range of materials are published by the RSCM and it also provides the opportunity for choristers to be entered for the externally assessed Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.
Annual Diocesan Choirs’ Festival
RSCM Oxford organises an annual festival service for choirs from across the Oxford Diocese. The service normally takes the form of a choral evensong. All the choirs prepare the music separately then come together for regional practices a week before the service and a final practice in the afternoon with everybody. In recent years, members of the St Nick’s Choirs have attended this Festival at Radley College, Christ Church Cathedral, and St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
RSCM Voices (South)
RSCM Voices groups exist as training choirs to sing services and other events to a high musical standard in cathedrals, churches and other venues throughout England. Entry is by audition for talented young singers (boys, girl and adults). Members of the choirs pay an annual subscription, though concessions are available for RSCM Individual Members and family groups. Young people and those in full time education may apply for bursary assistance.
Some members of St Nicholas’ are part of RSCM Voices (South) and have sung services recently at Ely, Southwalk, Rochester, Arundel and Peterborough Cathedrals to name but a few.
Services with Special Music
Throughout the year we have a programme of services with special music celebrating important events in the church’s year. Here are descriptions of some of them.
Harvest Thanksgiving Service – first Sunday morning service in October at 10am
An all-age service with a comprehensive music group singing both traditional Harvest hymns and newer songs celebrating and reflecting on creation.
Advent Sunday Evening 6pm
‘O Come Emmanuel’ – This is a special sequence of readings and music for Advent Sunday evening, to help us prepare for Christmas by reflecting on and recapturing the hope that the coming of Christ brings. Both our choirs sing together at this event and this year we are hoping that St Nicholas Camerata will also be taking part.
Along with music, silence, and readings, it uses darkness & light to help us focus on the expectation of Christ coming, not only as Judge, but as Saviour to usher in the Kingdom of God.
Christingle Service – 2nd Sunday before Christmas at 4pm
A special children’s service at which the Junior Choir sing and everyone who comes has the opportunity to make a Christingle as part of the event.
Service of nine lessons and carols – Sunday before Christmas at 6pm
One of our most popular services of the year which includes traditional carols, special choir items, with a brass instrumental group accompanying some of the music. Mulled wine and mince pies are served at the end.
Family Carols – Christmas Eve at 5pm and 7.30pm
This service has been so popular that we are now holding two similar services so that everyone can still enjoy Family Carols but we will be able more comfortably to accommodate everybody. The Junior Choir will also be singing at one of these services.
The Way of the Cross Service – Holy Week
This sequence of words and music for Passiontide has at its root the visits of early Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem, who followed in the steps of Jesus from Pilate’s house to Calvary, stopping along the route to make several ‘stations’ for prayer and reflection.
The stations featured here are drawn from the selection in Common Worship: Times and Seasons. They take the Passion narrative of the Gospel of Mark as a basis, adding a further passage from St John’s Gospel.
Congregational items include established Passiontide hymns and contemporary worship songs while the choir sings music in a range of styles.
The pictures below include the choir performing at the JR hospital, at Christ Church College and other colleges, St Thomas Church Elsfield, St Nicholas Church, as well as the event A summer Evening Concert 2019, Benjamin Dry performing Bach on Cello and Judy performing with her band.
Click on picture to enlarge it.
Your local churches at the heart of the community of Old Marston in Oxford and Elsfield village in Oxfordshire.