St Thomas' Episcopal Church, Aboyne

St Thomas' Episcopal Church, Aboyne

St Thomas' Episcopal Church, Aboyne

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Our church members work as a team to maintain and run St. Thomas’ Church. 
If you are interested in helping with Church life in any way, please contact us.

The Vestry

Members of the Vestry help the Rector with the day-to-day running of St. Thomas’. 

The Vestry meets four times per year. 

The Whole Church Ministry

Pastoral Support

St Thomas is a caring and supportive congregation, who keep an eye on each other in a friendly way. If you would like a visit, please contact the Rector

St Thomas’ has a team of pastoral visitors, who are available to visit anyone in need. They are also licensed to take Home Communion to those who want it.

Prayer Support

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
Colossians Ch. 4 v. 2.

A small group meets for prayer as requested.  The group prays for anyone who requires it, which may be for healing, guidance, strength in a difficult situation or for thanksgiving.  Prayer can  be for yourself or for someone else (with their permission).  Confidentiality is maintained at all times.  The group members are eager to be contacted at any time for prayer, visitation or simply for a listening and sympathetic ear.  Please consider joining us in the uplifting and essential ministry of prayer.  We really need as many as possible to support our Prayer Group.  For further information, please contact us.

Pastoral Cards for the Sick or Bereaved

We have a small selection of very helpful pastoral cards, which are suitable to send from the Church to anyone who is sick, going into hospital, bereaved. or has any other special need.  They include appropriate readings and prayers.  Recipients have commented on the encouragement and comfort these cards have brought them.  If you would like a pastoral card to be sent to a friend from St Thomas’s, Aboyne, please contact us.

The Family Worship Group

This group meets at intervals to discuss our ministry to children and families. Anyone who feels they would like to contribute will be very welcome to join in – please contact us for more information.

The Family Worship Group Report, January 2022

During Advent, we held a Crib Trail/Christingle/Coffee morning in church. We were delighted that lots of different ages turned up. We had invited members to bring along nativity sets and we decorated windowsills around the 20 which were donated for the Christmas season. They ranged from olive wood from the Holy Land, to hanging nativity decorations, a Playmobil set, several African scenes, and several different sizes from matchbox to our traditional large crib. We also had Nativity themed Advent calendars on the walls. In addition, we had potted up 8 small Christmas trees from the graveyard, and these were decorated by 2 young-at-heart members with fairy lights and small decorations, with some help from the children present. All the children made their own Christingles to take away and sets were made up to distribute to local youth groups. Of course everyone enjoyed the coffee, tea and mince pies on offer. 

We recorded another virtual Crib Service with St Kentigern’s, complete with costumes, singing and narration – great fun and available on Youtube. 

We have managed to open up the Children’s area in church again, so colouring sheets are available at services, and we hope to expand this during the year. 

Thanks to the team – Sue, Marie, Warren, Andrew, Carol, Vittoria ; to the children and all our supporters!

Taking Care of Our Church

Most members of our congregation play a part in taking care of our church in one way or another.  The following are just examples of the many ways that people help.

The Sacristans are responsible for the smooth running of our services, especially Communion. They set up the Altar and side shelf for everything required for Communion, including the correct colours depending on the time of year.  Water is placed in the carafe for the Minister and the candles are lit in the correct order.  The Sacristans set out the Ministers robes and enter the service in the Service Book.

We are fortunate in having a cleaner who comes regularly to spruce up the church.  Everyone then comes together once a year, usually in November, for a ‘Big Clean’ to do the more hard to reach or difficult jobs.

We have members who contribute to the Maintenance Group, who clean gutters, flush drains, do small repairs, organise bigger repairs and manage the woodland surrounding the church. They also oversee the management of the Burial Ground. 

Many others work hard to play their part, including the Flower Group, who keep the church beautiful and colourful throughout the year with displays reflecting both the Church calendar and the seasons, the Coffee Group, who ensure that refreshments are available to welcome all after services, and of course our organist, and the Bell Ringers who once again are welcoming all to church whenever possible! We also have a Quiet Corner in the church yard, which is set aside for reflection and quiet prayer.

The Choirs

The Regular Choir

The St Thomas’ Choir exists to enhance the worship at St Thomas’ by leading the congregational singing during the weekly Service, especially the hymns, and by providing other suitable music during the services. This includes the singing of an anthem during Communion, usually three or four times a month. Hymns are sung in parts, usually with a descant, and these are practised, along with the anthems which are also sung in parts.  Members of the choir give their time and their skills voluntarily. They sing for the weekly Service at 11.15 am, and come to Choir Practice as arranged. These are meantime usually on Friday afternoons.

Singing in the Choir is a considerable commitment, but rewarding; choir members get to know each other, and have the opportunity to sing together, and to learn a variety of simple but good quality anthems.  At present the choir is small, and more members would be very welcome. All parts are needed, soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Although we have some skilled singers in the Choir, this should not put off anyone who feels their singing is more basic! What is needed is enthusiasm and commitment, there is plenty time in practices to go over parts if people are not sure of them, or have difficulty reading music. Although it is preferable that members should be able to come most weeks, there is also a place for anyone whose commitments make this difficult. Anyone interested should get in touch with the organist, Sheila Maxwell, preferably in church, or by email (see Contact us).

St Thomas' Augmented Choir

For the last several years, the regular Choir has been augmented by other singers from a variety of backgrounds,  and has taken part in three special events each year. There has been a serious event, usually before Easter, and the music has included Stainer’s Crucifixion, Harold Moore’s ‘The Darkest Hour’, and a Choral Evensong, with Canticles by Basil Harwood, and the anthem ‘O for a closer walk with God’, by Stanford. In July there has been an ‘Evening of Praise’ during the Aboyne and Deeside Festival, when there have been hymns for everyone to sing, led by the Augmented Choir, solos and readings, and two or three anthems sung by the Augmented Choir.

This is followed by the annual Carol Service, a traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, with carols for all interspersed with the Readings, and three or four special carols sung by the Augmented Choir.

The Augmented Choir is much less of a commitment, as singers are invited on an ad-hoc basis for each event. Some people come regularly to sing with us, others only rarely, but all are welcome. The singing tends to be rather more advanced, and singers need to be comfortable with this, but there is opportunity for plenty of practice. Practices for this have been mostly on Monday afternoons, for several weeks before the event. (It is accepted that not everyone will manage all the practices, so long as they are comfortable with the music in the end)

Archive - Choir Notes

St Thomas’ Choir Notes

Would you believe it, more than a year later, the choir remains suspended! There is still no word of our churches being allowed to sing together, either choir or congregation. However, we are allowed one solo singer as an integral part of the service, and we are fortunate in having three members of the choir who are happy to sing a hymn as a solo during the service, which is greatly enhanced by this musical input. We are grateful to those who are prepared to do this, as a useful interim until we are allowed to get together as a choir again.

Sheila Maxwell,  May  2021

St Thomas’ Choir Notes

Another sad casualty of the Coronavirus is the St Thomas’ Choir. We kept going as long as we could, with an almost full choir for Rev Isaac Poobalan’s service singing Goss’s lovely “O Saviour of the world`’. On March 15th, a smaller choir most beautifully sang ‘Drop, drop, slow tears’ for Lent. And that was it!  We look forward to returning when we are allowed to sing in our services in church.

Also of course, the St Thomas’ Augmented Choir is on hold. The proposed Choral Evensong on 3rd May has been postponed indefinitely, and the choir practices stopped of course. But we had made some progress under Lucy’s baton, and will pick up where we left off, when we are allowed to associate again. Treats in store include a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Charles Wood, and the anthem ‘How beauteous are their feet’ by Stanford, all lovely works. We expect it all to be worth waiting for, and look forward to resuming our rehearsals when we are allowed to sing again.

Sheila Maxwell,  March 2020

St Thomas’ Choir Notes

Christmas is always a lovely time for the choir, and this year it seemed to be extra special. Our anthems during Communion in Advent included the likeable modern anthem ’There is no rose’ by Graham Ellis, and the well-known ‘This is the truth from above’. And all the favourite Advent hymns were sung.

Most of the choir has remained faithful as always – where would we be without them! We are still hoping for Eric’s return to complete the basses, but are glad to have Andrew as tenor. And we have recently included Beth, a young singer who is here on a year’s placement., sight-reads well, and is happy singing alto or soprano – as is Sue. We nearly always have Jill and Pat, and this means we can balance the ladies’ sound better, often with two or more on each part.

Over the years, the choir at Christmas has varied enormously, depending on who is available. Members of our choir are sometimes away, but others will bring in relations who sing, and this is always a great pleasure. This year we did really well. Nearly all the choir were with us, and Beth produced a father and a brother to join us for the Midnight Communion. We also had Chris and Caroline Erni, and Mike Brooks from the Augmented Choir and his daughter – and we made time for a practice for most beforehand. The result was a super choir well prepared, and we sang carols for half an hour before the service, to our great pleasure, and hopefully the congregation’s too. During Communion we only had time to sing one carol, which was of course our favourite Shepherd’s Farewell. But we sang the congregational carols lustily, including descants.

The Christmas Day Communion was different, in the style of the service, with lots of children in the congregation, and also with the choir. Not many of the regular choir came to that as well, but we had Beth and her father back, and also Meg and David, their son, and their granddaughter Rosie who got them into the choir in the first place! We did not sing beforehand, but had time for three carols during Communion, beautifully sung.

To round off Christmas, so to speak, Vittoria led a Carol-a-long. This is the third service we have had in this popular format. The congregation chooses batches of three carols – or hymns, in the summer – and explain their reasons while I find the music. Not always simple, as the choir uses various different versions, but we managed in time, and the choir sang their usual parts and descants to lead the singing. Included was the lovely ‘O Holy Night’, which is quite tricky for a congregation. I was privileged to have Beth’s father as page-turner, singing it as a beautiful solo. I was engaged with a rather tricky accompaniment – I hope the congregation were enjoying singing it too! We sang well-known carols as well, people were very willing to make their choices, and it was a lovely service.

So – back to the usual! We have had a choir practice, and sang the wonderful ‘Locus Iste’ by Bruckner on Sunday, with more anthems practised. Just as well – the usual snow descended after that, with another cancelled choir practice. But the music will go on!

Sheila Maxwell January 2019

St Thomas’ Choir Notes

The choir has continued to sing some lovely music during Communion. We had a special rendering of our favourite Harvest anthem ‘O lovely peace’, known to us as ‘the wavy corn’ We were fortunate in having Caroline and Chris Erni with us, so that the sound was better than ever. One Sunday we sang ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ in a beautiful setting by Saint-Saens. The words seem to inspire some really lovely music from a variety of composers.

We are now thinking ahead to Christmas. A choir of sorts will sing at the Midnight Communion, and this is always rather a gamble, some people are away for Christmas, others have visitors who like to join us, and it is different every year, and difficult to plan. But we do always manage to include our much-loved ‘Shepherd’s Farewell’.

The Augmented Choir started rehearsals a few weeks ago for the Carol Service on 9th December, with Marcus conducting again. We have a large choir of about twenty singers, although the basses are down to two, both good competent singers. We are singing four choir carols in different styles, from a boisterous setting of ‘Tomorrow shall be my dancing day’ to a slow and beautiful setting of ‘Love came down at Christmas’ by modern composer Thomas Hewitt-Jones.

I have again produced a new Carol, this time with some traditional words written years ago by the mother of choir member Barbara Henderson. With four regular verses, it needed a simpler sort of setting from the highly imaginative poems written by Vittoria Hancock – and it is perhaps a bit easier to sing! The poem is reproduced below.

My thanks to all the choir for their dedication and lovely singing.

Sheila Maxwell, November, 2018

Far away Star in the  heavens shining bright

Once more your message on this holy night

Comes to a world that is restless with fear

Jesus beloved we know you are near.

We still remember a Babe long ago

Born in a stable sheltered from snow

Brought us the gift of redemption and love

Life everlasting in Heaven above.

Still through the night, on Angels soft wings

Steals a sweet glow and a peace on all things

Saviour of man you have come yet again

Let not your message be offered in vain.

Christmas the birthday of Jesus our King

May we the gifts from our humble hearts bring

Let us remember to serve thee and give

Thanks for thy blessings on this Christmas Eve.

From Barbara Henderson, written by her mother,  Phyllis McNaught 

St Thomas’ Choir Notes

Another Evening of Praise is safely over, and Jean Sowrey has given a full account of it elsewhere. Marcus has been cutting down his commitment to the Augmented Choir, and we were delighted to have Lucy conducting for the first time, including the passing on of her singing skills, which was much appreciated by the choir. Warren was not able to record the whole service, but kindly recorded my new anthem to Vittoria’s words, ‘The last Dance’, and put it on YouTube. If you want to hear it, and see Lucy conducting, the link is:

Preparations are just starting for the Carol Service on 9th December, and we hope for a good choir for that again, under Marcus’s baton.

The regular choir, although small in numbers, continues to sing splendidly, with our anthems during Communion being a special feature. Just once, with no soprano, we sang a hymn instead, but it was a lovely one, and the altos managed the tune beautifully. We are currently preparing for the Harvest service, with Handel’s ’O Lovely peace’, commonly known as ‘the wavy corn’ because of all the repetition towards the end. My thanks again to all the choir for their singing and dedication.

Sheila Maxwell, September, 2018

St Thomas’ Choir Notes

The Choir has kept going as usual, thanks to the talented and dedicated members, who seem happy to sing in spite of very small numbers sometimes. We have usually managed an anthem during Communion, including Spohr’s ‘Teach me thy way’ and Tallis’s ‘If ye love me.’ There is also a setting of Elgar’s Ave Verum by Harrison Oxley, which is nearly all in unison, so helpful if we do not have all the parts. The basses have been struggling a bit, as Eric is still away because of problems with his shoulder. We wish him well and hope for an early recovery, for our sake as well as his! David and Meg are also away a lot, unfortunately for us.

It has been great to hear of two singing exam successes. Sue, for the second time, has passed her exam in classical singing with distinction, this time Grade 5. Her development has been particularly welcome in the choir, as she now sings soprano quite happily, including the descants. Jill has for a long time kept the soprano part going wonderfully, but in a choir it is good to have more than one singer, and of course on occasion Jill is not with us. If neither is with us, the altos get to sing the tune!

We are also delighted that Marie Wilde, who only occasionally joins us, but sings with the Augmented Choir, has got a distinction in Musical Theatre, as well as a good credit for her classical singing recital, Grade 3. It is enormously enterprising of both of them, one associates these exams with young children, but no, there is no stopping them!

Thanks to all for your contribution to the musical life of St Thomas’.

Sheila Maxwell, August 2018

St Thomas’ 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

St Thomas’ Choir Notes

The choir has been going strong in spite of the small numbers. Choir practice is often missed if there are not enough people available, but we have had some good ones, going over several anthems for the Sundays to come. This culminated last Sunday in a rendering of the beautiful Saint Saëns ‘Ave Verum’, with its fascinating harmonies. I hope the congregation enjoyed it as they came up for Communion.

A highlight was the St Thomas’ Harvest Festival, about which Eric has written. As well as the Harvest celebrations, and the blessing of the toilets twinned for our Lent Appeal this year, we had the launching of the Maxwell Collection of church choral music. For several years I have been writing music for the choir to sing, both the regular choir and the Augmented, without really asking if they wanted to sing it! But their reactions to the Collection seem to suggest that they actually like some of it, which left me more confident in celebrating the launching. So we had a few voluntary extra singers, including two who came all the way from Alford, both for a practice, and for the service itself. We started with a Harvest Song called Brambles, written specially for the occasion to lovely imaginative words by Vittoria; and during Communion we sang an Introit I had written a few years ago. I remain very grateful to Marcus Marsh and Andrew Wilson for organising the Collection.

The Maxwell Collection has been distributed fairly widely, mostly by Andrew, but there are copies left, and more can be printed, so if anyone wants one, for themselves or for someone who is involved in choral singing, just get in touch with Andrew or with me.

I cannot finish without the usual thanks to the regular choir for making it all happen. Some of them are highly conscientious as well as a pleasure to work with, and there would be no choir without them.

The Augmented Choir is now in full swing, with a choir of over twenty singers rehearsing for the Carol Service on 10th December. We hope for a massive turn-out!

Sheila Maxwell, December, 2017