40 years ago, a young student from Birmingham University auditioned for the role of Director of Music at the Church. Simon is still active and engaged in ministry within the church encouraging the use of music in worship and developing the skills of many. So many young people have passed through our choir and many have gone on to significant engagement with music in their adult lives.
In her Sermon the Vicar Rev'd Canon Priscilla White paid tribute to the place of music in worship and to Simon in particular. (this is an extract).
Today we celebrate and give thanks for Simon’s ministry here. We give thanks that music is such an important part of our life as a church, lifting us from the mundanity of life.
George Eliot said
“Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.”
And Leonard Bernstein,
“Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”
We are lifted by music, and, although, at present, we cannot sing ourselves, it is wonderful to be able to hear and to be moved by music in our services. As we listen, we can find God speaking to us in new ways and offering us new insight and understanding.
In Colossians Paul reminds his readers to sing Psalms. Hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God.
If we think of an orchestra, we may know that at times the line a particular instrument plays may be quite boring both to play and to hear on its own. But when that line of music is brought together with the other lines something wonderful happens. The full music, the full harmony is so much greater than the sum of its parts. The interconnectedness of the orchestra, the way that the composer has mingled together disparate sounds to create a musical landscape is really powerful. Each instrument, each line of music, is drawn together in a way that offers a powerful experience both to listener and participant.
Music offers us something so important in worship. It offers us the chance to go beyond words, to respond to Luther’s concept
“When I sing, I pray twice”
It brings us together even when we ourselves cannot join in the singing.
Simon, we are grateful for your work and for all that you enable us to be.
Simon is pictured here with his wife, Susannah.