St Patricks's & St Andrew's are lucky to a have a dedicated wealth of musical talent who cater for the tastes of both the younger and older generations. Incorporating a diverse range of styles from musical tradition to a more modern development of Church Of Ireland musical phraise . Both of which are an important part of our church life. Additionally we are lucky to attract guest artists from all over the world to help us praise God through music. Tony Morrison was appointed in late 2011 as our new Organist and Choir Master.
Video Samples of our musical diversity
Guests: Ian Tracey
Hello! I’m delighted to introduce myself as St. Patrick’s organist! This commitment follows hot on the heels of a much more important commitment—to follow Christ as my Saviour. So coming to St. Patrick’s is a part of my spiritual growth at this time, allowing me to contribute to church worship through music.
I’ve been in and around church music for many years, playing, singing and taking choirs and I’ve come to embrace all styles of music used to worship God, from traditional to contemporary. However, I do love the choral tradition most of all. The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) says, “we are committed to achieving the best use of good music in worship—whatever the resources, whatever the styles.” This is a really great way to think about church music, because it is totally inclusive. Whatever your interest, as a singer, an instrumentalist or a listener, a lover of the choral tradition or the contemporary approach (or like me, both!), church music should enhance your worship and glorify God. That’s why church and music go together, isn’t it?
Music has been around churches for centuries. The Book of Common Prayer simplified daily worship to two daily services or ‘offices’—Matins and Evensong. Both have songs or ‘Canticles’ associated with them and throughout the ages composers have given us the fabulous interpretations of the Bible’s wonderful words (check out the Song of Mary, Luke 1:46-55 and Song of Simeon, Luke 2:28-30).
These forms of daily worship, where the canticles are sung (principally by the choir)
are still practised in most Cathedrals today. Sadly many parish congregations have only infrequent opportunities to attend ‘choral’ Matins or Evensong as parish choirs have dwindled. St. Paul’s Cathedral wonderfully describes these opportunities as, “a space in which to be still; to allow those thoughts and feelings which are otherwise suppressed by a busy life, to come closer to us than life outside allows; and to catch a vision of God’s glory in the beauty of holiness.” In these services the congregation participates by “silently associating themselves with the words that the Choir offer on behalf of all of us.” What better way to catch a vision of God’s glory!
Whilst ‘sung services’ have declined, church music is alive and well in its contemporary form. Modern composers (still living!) such as Graham Kendrick, Stuart Townend and Ian White have written modern songs, hymns and tunes that have wide appeal. When these are played by instruments such as guitar and drums, the congregation can easily relate to them as the style is not unlike that of pop, rock, soul and many other contemporary musical genres. And that’s a good thing because it’s inclusive. New hymnals bring together the best of the old and the new, with more than a few borrowed from the Redemption Hymnal. These songs and hymns are accessible to everyone with their modern language, style and harmonies, yet the message of God’s
These songs and hymns are accessible to everyone with their modern language, style and harmonies, yet the message of God’s love and forgiveness remains the same as the traditional approach.
Not for one second must we lose sight of this common theme in our traditional or contemporary church music: that God sent His Son Jesus to die for us on the cross. Music is creative and expressive and praising God with guitar and drums (done well) has the same validity as praising God with choir and organ (done well). The important thing is praising God with music, not the style adopted or the resources used.
Many churches have been challenged by getting the balance of traditional and contemporary music-making wrong. An insistence that contemporary music is the only way forward is as misguided as refusing to budge from the traditional style.
Perhaps the important consideration is that it is people who make music, and music-making in church is the musician’s way of praising God and helping others to catch a vision of God’s glory. Putting God first should surely be the strap line for church music, providing a common and unifying purpose across all styles. It is greatly encouraging to see both traditional and contemporary styles warmly embraced in St. Patrick’s. What a wonderful message this sends out of God’s love.
Of course my role is focused on the choir. I am keen to open up discussion on how best to take singing forward. We want our singing to be attractive and enjoyable, the best it can be to the glory of God, both in the congregation and the choir. Let’s get singing!
MEET TONY MORRISON