A change of hands on the Keyboards

It was a huge surprise in January when Lesley suddenly asked me if I would like to step into Barry’s organ shoes from early summer. I had to think about it for a while, as I was then singing in the choir at St Andrew’s in Farnham, and occasionally playing the organ there.

But I was drawn to the idea of helping with the music at all three churches in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale – it seemed like riches galore! It is a great honour to take up this post, and very exciting to help Lesley and Alan explore new musical ideas for worship. I hope to help Pamela in a small way with the St John’s choir, and learn about voice production in the ‘Voice for Life’ scheme for choral musicians. Perhaps we’ll be able to sing some simple anthems before long.

Musical traditions are being exchanged at St Mark’s – Bob Shatwell with his ‘folk fiddle’ is teaching me to ‘vamp the chords’ on the piano to accompany him in ‘All God’s creatures got a place in the choir’! I’ve yet to perfect this technique! In turn I’m helping Bob with some classical music, and at Easter we played some peaceful Bach after Communion, and joyful Bach at the end of the service.

The project to fundraise for St Mark’s Edwardian organ, ‘Emily’, is only just beginning. When her lovely mellow tone is restored, she can be used for the grander hymns, and so the music will be more diverse.

In April Barry invited me to the fortnightly Band practice at St George’s, and I was very impressed with the young people’s great enthusiasm in playing violins, flute, clarinet, and drums, with Barry on treble recorder. Margaret conducts from the piano with verve and humour which is infectious. I enjoyed choir practice there too. As I left Barry put the recorder under my arm saying, “you can play this now”! Never having played one before, we’ll see what happens in two weeks time!

My first task has been to choose the hymns for all three churches. They have individual styles of worship, and so the hymns have to be appropriate, and suit the theme of each service. We hope to enlarge the repertoire with modern hymns whose tunes are pleasing to all ears, if possible! Debates over hymns can become heated, but I hope we can all achieve harmony with our voices and our opinions, and together make ‘ a joyful noise unto the Lord’. Church music should create the right mood; it can be balm to the soul, it can break through depression, it can ‘call us back to life’.

There may also be a modern organ voluntary at the end of services sometimes. I hope you will allow that! I’m grateful for the support of my fellow organists at St John’s, and for all the encouragement from Lesley, Alan, Pamela and Barry. Thank you, everyone, for this great opportunity.

Frances Whewell

LEGO enthusiasts needed

There is a growing excitement in many places about the benefits of structured LEGO clubs for building social and communication skills, especially for those who struggle in this area. It is not simply about collecting a group of children together and providing them with LEGO blocks. The children are in groups of three with an adult supervisor. A clear set of ‘LEGO Club’ rules are agreed upon and the group meets on a regular basis to collaborate in LEGO brick building activities, tailored to the skill level of the participants. The tasks are divided up – one has the instructions – ‘the architect’, one has the LEGO blocks – ‘the supplier’ and one assembles the LEGO – ‘the builder’. The tasks are completed using verbal and non-verbal communication, collaboration and sharing. Research shows that these groups benefit those who attend immensely. We would like to start a LEGO club at St. Marks Church, Alma Lane, GU9 0LT and so LEGO Enthusiasts are wanted for a few hours a month to help run this exciting new venture. Full training will be provided and there will be a requirement to be DBS checked and to attend safeguarding training. This is a “Families Matter Project”. For more information please call me, Jane Voake, on 07827 567 014 Email: jane.voake@cofeguildford.org.uk

Drinking the Cup

Beautiful piece today on the Henri Nouwen website.

After firmly holding the cups of our lives and lifting them up as signs of hope for others, we have to drink them. Drinking our cups means fully appropriating and interiorizing what each of us has acknowledged as our life, with all its unique sorrows and joys.

How do we drink our cups? We drink them as we listen in silence to the truth of our lives, as we speak in trust with friends about ways we want to grow, and as we act in deeds of service. Drinking our cups is following freely and courageously God’s call and staying faithfully on the path that is ours. Thus our life cups become the cups of salvation. When we have emptied them to the bottom, God will fill them with “water” for eternal life.

Henri J. M. Nouwen

Changes to Graves in St John’s Churchyard

St John’s Churchyard is a special place, a place of great beauty and historical value and a tranquil place for quiet reflection. However, on his last visit, the Archdeacon of Surrey found that the churchyard at St John’s was not conforming to the churchyard regulations and has instructed the Joint Rectors, the Reverends Alan and Lesley Crawley, to rectify this. They have written to the next of kin of all the people buried in the churchyard in the last three years, explaining the situation. However, they do not have the contact details of everyone who has been buried at St John’s.

The rules are much stricter in churchyards than cemeteries, for instance balloons, lights and statues are not permitted. The family of the deceased bear the cost of any memorials and of maintaining them but they do not own the grave space and the church has the task of keeping the churchyard in good order. The regulations specify that the churchyard is a lawned area with headstones, giving a spacious, peaceful and prayerful feel.

The Reverend Alan Crawley says:

“We recognise that the grave of a loved one is a sacred space and we don’t want to add to the grief of the families. A small number of graves do not comply with the churchyard regulations and we have been instructed to ensure that they do. This is obviously a very sensitive issue and we want to talk it through with the families first. It is complicated by the regulations changing over the years, so for instance older graves have surrounds around them that are not permitted today. We would like to ask anyone who is concerned to get in contact with us.”