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Choir Notes

St Thomas’s Choir Notes

The Choir has managed to keep going right through the holiday period, in spite of the small numbers. Anthems have included ‘Comfort, O Lord’ by Crotch, and a favourite, ‘Like as a hart’ by V. Novello. It has been a quieter spell, but things are beginning to get more exciting. The launch of the Maxwell Collection at the Harvest Communion will hopefully involve two of my choral compositions, and we will try to augment the choir a bit for the occasion.
It will not be long before we start preparing for Christmas, with rehearsals for the Augmented Choir for the Carol Service on 10th December, and singing by the choir for the glorious Christmas Eve Communion. These always need a good deal of preparation, but are well worth the effort when the time comes.
The regular choir has worked hard and conscientiously again, and we are all grateful to them.
Sheila Maxwell, October, 2017

Choir Notes

posted 28 May 2016, 15:21 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 6 Oct 2017, 15:04 ]

St Thomas’s Choir Notes
     Jean has written above about the latest highlight in the musical life of St Thomas’s, the Evening of Praise, which has become an annual event. It is lovely to be joined by so many good singers for these events, and a different sort of sound can be created with a choir of that size.
     However, our regular choir, though much smaller, is also able to produce some lovely music, especially in our anthems during Communion. These are necessarily limited, they need to be quite short, fairly simple, and also quiet enough to fit the mood of the act of Communion itself. We have quite a repertoire of these anthems, by some of the great choral writers, Wesley, John Goss, Crotch among them. And I was struck by the singing of Spohr’s ‘Teach me thy way’, sung recently in four parts by six of our choir.
     The choir remains small, which is a problem if they cannot all come on a Sunday, but having Andrew and Isabel has made a great difference. There has been more of a problem in the bass section, Geoff has not felt up to it, and Eric, having been away for a while, celebrated his return by falling and hurting his shoulder. We miss him, wish him well, and look forward to seeing him back in his place before too long.
    My thanks, as always, to all the choir for their work and dedication. If anyone wants to join us, you will be more than welcome!
Sheila Maxwell

Evening of Praise

posted 11 May 2016, 08:12 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 28 May 2016, 15:18 ]

On 21st August there will be an Evening of Praise in St Thomas's, starting at 6.00pm. There will  be lots of hymns for everyone to sing, and the St Thomas's Augmented Choir will sing a few short anthems under the baton of Marcus Marsh. There will also be readings and solos - and refreshments for all afterwards. 
Everyone is most welcome to come. If anyone not already involved would like to join the Augmented Choir, on this occasion or for future events, do get in touch with the organist, Sheila Maxwell, email

We are always looking for regular choir members for our Sunday Services, when we sing hymns in parts with descants, and an anthem during Communion. New members would be very welcome.

Choral Evensong

posted 21 Apr 2016, 02:25 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne

Sunday 1st May 2016
Choral Evensong will be sung at 6pm. 
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by J.H. Maunder
Responses by Thomas Tomkins
Hymns to be sung by all
Everyone welcome

October-November 2015

posted 12 Nov 2015, 11:07 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 12 Nov 2015, 11:07 ]

The choir has been fairly relaxed over the summer period, with some absences, but we have managed our usual anthems during Communion, which gives pleasure to us, and I hope to the congregation. Our highlight was ‘O Lovely Peace’ by Handel for the Harvest Festival. We had Caroline and Chris joining us for the occasion, which is always good, and Marcus was conducting, so the tricky bit at the end went well - as did the ‘Wavy Corn’ passage that gives the anthem its common name.

We are starting to plan for the Carol Service, and will be having rehearsals with the Augmented Choir from mid-October. We allow for plenty rehearsal time as few of them can manage all the rehearsals. But a good number of singers have signed up already, including some tenors, so we hope for another lovely Carol Service. (Dec 13th - put it in your diaries!)

My thanks to the regular members of the choir as always - we would not have a choir without you! If anyone can join us, do let me know.


August - September 2015

posted 9 Aug 2015, 01:33 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 9 Aug 2015, 01:34 ]

The choir continues its work of leading the congregation with the hymns, and singing anthems during Communion, even when the numbers are small. We recently sang two of our favourites, V. Novello’s ‘Like as the hart’, and Handel’s ‘Lord, I trust thee’. Choir practices go on when enough people are available, and are good social occasions. We do however need more people to join us. It is quite a commitment to come each week, but some of the choir come less often, when they can be available, and this is all right, we are glad to have them when they come. We could do with more people like that! And they say singing is good for you! So do get in touch if you think you might like to join us - or know anyone else who might be interested.

The Evening of Praise on July 5th was hugely enjoyable. Jean Sowrey has written an account of this, elsewhere in the magazine. Not all the regular choir members were able to join us, but we had enough from the Augmented Choir to make another lovely choir. We sang three anthems, one of which, ‘Breathe on me, breath of God’, was more like a hymn, very attractive but simple enough to add to our quite extensive repertoire for the regular choir.

Sheila Maxwell

June - July 2015

posted 9 Aug 2015, 00:17 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 9 Aug 2015, 00:18 ]

The Augmented Choir has been busy. The Choral evening has come and gone. We had a choir of 25 singers, with some really lovely voices among them, so that it was a wonderful experience to be part of it. The organist nearly gave up though! There was a lot of accompanying, some of it rather complicated - music written originally for orchestra is never the easiest on the organ or piano. However, with some judicious editing, and help from Lucy with ‘The heavens are telling’, we got by.

For practical reasons - mostly trying not to clash with anything important - this year’s Evening of Praise is only two months after the Choral evening, on Sunday 5th July. So we are starting to practice already, but making sure the anthems are simple enough not to need too much rehearsal. Marcus has been rooting about finding suitable ones. There will also be lots of hymns for everyone, and we are meantime asking the congregation to let us have their favourite hymns, to choose from. This is very much a congregational event for everyone, not just the choir.

The regular choir has meantime managed to keep going. It is such a small choir that any absence can cause problems. The basses are not so bad, we have three, but the ladies are usually singing their parts as solos. Fortunately Sue, who sings alto, but moves to tenor or soprano at will, has been able to cover when our main soprano, Jill, has been absent. Sue recently got a distinction in her singing exam, and has been developing since, which is a great help. Otherwise we are very dependent on Jill and Pat, and our wonderful men, to keep the choir going. The choir sang the usual ‘Come, Holy Ghost’, by Attwood for Pentecost, and Paul Isom’s ‘King of all ages’ for the Sunday after the Ascension.

As usual, my thanks to all the choir for all their work and lovely singing. We are still hoping that a few more people will want to join us. It is a fair commitment, but very worthwhile, and a good chance to get to know the lovely anthems that we sing.

Sheila Maxwell

April/May 2015

posted 22 Apr 2015, 09:33 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 22 Apr 2015, 09:34 ]

Things have been jogging on nicely since Christmas. We continued our singing of an anthem during Communion with favourites including Wesley’s ‘O Lord, my God’ and Tallis’s ‘If ye love me’. We also managed an all too rare occurrence, an anthem that was new to us, ‘Drop, drop slow tears’ by Orlando Gibbons. It is not always easy to find more anthems that are suitable to sing during Communion, and straightforward enough for our very small choir.

On 15th February, we had the Confirmation of Hannah, and Baptism of her son Christiaan. We sang Attwood’s Come, Holy Ghost’ specially for them, and the family had requested ’Panis Angelica’ to be sung by Lucy Bailey, which she did beautifully. She joined the choir for the occasion, and it was lovely to have her with us.

Recently three of our choir have been rehearsing with our former choir master Owen Jenkins for an Evensong for Palm Sunday, 29th March. We have established a good relationship with the choir at Christ Church, and it is good to have members of the two choirs joining in each other’s events. As they had their rehearsals on Thursday evenings, we moved ours earlier and kept it fairly short, and this worked quite well. We will have some members of their choir joining us for our next big event.

We have been rehearsing for some time for our Sacred Music event on 3rd May. This is the most serious of the events that the Augmented Choir have been singing in, and Marcus Marsh, our conductor, has chosen an ambitious but lovely selection of music. The main work will be Vivaldi’s Magnificat, including some solo work by members of the choir. There will also be a magnificent Te Deum by Stanford, and the more well-known ‘The Heavens are telling’, and Mozart’s Ave Verum. We have a choir of more than twenty singers, which should make a lovely sound. There will also be a couple of Readings, and a short solo by Lucy, to break things up for the choir.

We hope lots of people will come to this - Sunday, 3rd May at 6pm.

My thanks again to all the choir for their conscientious work, patience, and lovely singing.

Sheila Maxwell

February/March 2015

posted 21 Mar 2015, 03:01 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 21 Mar 2015, 03:01 ]

Christmas is always a lovely time for the choir, and this year was no exception. We were joined by a large Augmented Choir for the Carol Service, which seemed to go better than ever. 

The midnight service is another highlight, but more tricky as usually some of the choir are away, and sometimes we have very welcome extras who have not been to any practices. This year we managed a proper rehearsal, Caroline and Chris Erni joined us, and although it was a small choir, they sang four carols before the service, as well as singing more than usual during Communion. Included was our favourite, ‘The Shepherd’s Farewell’ by Berlioz.

On Christmas morning we had a good congregation with a number of children, but only one choir member. So we did without a choir and the congregation sang out with some favourite carols. The organist felt surprisingly isolated without a choir beside her!

January is a quieter time for the choir, and choir practices are often cancelled as not enough people can make it. Nevertheless, the singing continues, with hymns in parts with descants, and an anthem during Communion. We have a large list of anthems in our repertoire, and sing all our favourites perhaps once a year. This is an aspect of the work that I think we all enjoy.

If anyone would like to join the regular choir, we would be delighted. You do not have to be brilliant, there is time to learn the music during practices. We look rather for keenness and commitment. So do think about it!

My thanks to all the choir as usual, where would we be without you?

Sheila Maxwell

December 2014/January 2015

posted 21 Feb 2015, 04:44 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne

Christmas and the preparation for it are always lovely but busy times. The Augmented Choir is about twenty strong this year, and most people have managed to come to rehearsals, which take place at Chesterton House and have been rather a squeeze! But better that than trying to heat up the church for us, we will just go in for the last rehearsals. We are singing four choir carols again this year,, an early slow and beautiful one by Palestrina, a tuneful modern one by Malcolm Archer, and the more well-known Shepherd’s Cradle Song. And there is a brand new setting of a poem by our Rector Vittoria,, who among many other talents writes poetry. The words are elsewhere in this magazine to give people a chance to savour them quietly.

As well as that, there are of course the traditional readings, and carols for everyone. This takes place on 14th December, and hopefully everyone will want to come.

As well as that, the choir will be in action for the wonderful Christmas Eve Communion Service. The make-up of the choir varies a lot, as some members are away, while others bring relations who can join us. If anyone wants to join the choir for this, you will be welcome, but let me know well in advance! We will be singing more than usual during Communion, as there are always so many people coming up, and we may sing a few carols before the Service.

The regular Choir have continued in action as usual, and it is wonderful to have such talented singers when the choir is so small. We have sung anthems during communion, some of our favourites like Arcadelt’s ‘O Lord my God, to Thee’, and Gounod’s ‘Ave Verum’. We sang Handel’s ‘O Lovely Peace’, commonly known as the ‘wavy corn’, on the day we had a Harvest Lunch, and a few extra people joined us for that. My thanks as always to all who make the choir possible, and put so much work into it.

Sheila Maxwell

October/November 2014

posted 10 Nov 2014, 13:01 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 10 Nov 2014, 13:01 ]

The Choir has been jogging along gently over the summer, but came to life on August 17th, when the Bishop came to conduct a Service including Jean Souter’s Confirmation and Blessing of her Marriage, and the blessing of various artefacts, including some of the choir badges, which were not blessed when we got them originally.

A few extra singers joined us for the occasion, including Rev Lisa, Jane Bailey, Ian Stewart as the sole tenor, and Joanna Thomas, who had come north in time for the occasion. During Communion we sang Bach’s ‘Jesu, joy of man’s desiring.’ As part of the Service, Vittoria led the congregation in the well-known ‘Peruvian Gloria’, and this was followed by a brand new Sanctus in the same style, which Vittoria nobly sang in spite of not having had much time to practice it. We are fortunate in having another Rector who is happy in leading us in this way.

In October, St Thomas’s is celebrating Harvest not once, but twice - a Family Service on 5th October, and a Bring-and -Share lunch on 19th. As this will be a Communion Service, we hope to gladden the service with our favourite harvest anthem, Handel’s ‘O Lovely Peace’ - commonly known as the ‘Wavy Corn’!

We still have a very small choir, and more people would be most welcome. But those we have are both talented and dedicated, and I am grateful to them for this. There would be no choir without them!

Sheila Maxwell

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