St Annes's Church New HedgesSt Mary’s Church Tenby leads the Rectorial Benefice of Tenby - a team of five churches who strive to serve our local people and also the many thousands who visit us each year. We belong to the Diocese of St Davids in the Church in Wales and we hope people of all backgrounds and traditions will find a warm welcome here.St Mary's Church, High Street, Tenby, SA70 8APSt Mary's Church Map
31st October 2017 marked the 500th Anniversary of what became known as the Lutheran Reformation. This momentous event was one of many to have a profound effect on the history of music in worship. Martin Luther once said “God preaches the Gospel through the medium of music”. This is a reminder, from 500 years ago, how the ministry of music is an integral and important part of the worship and outreach of a living Church. Our musicians continue to offer this ministry in all our churches. The dedicated organists at Penally, Gumfreston, and New Hedges continue to fulfil their duties with skill and commitment. Penally Church Choir have a key role in the life of their church and elsewhere. The work of St. Mary’s Tower Bell and Handbell Ringers is documented elsewhere in the Annual Report.
Much has changed since St. Mary’s Church Choir was founded 148 years ago by the Rev. George Huntington (Rector of Tenby 1867 – 1905). However, one thing has remained the same throughout this time. The primary role of the Choir is to sing at all the regular choral services, provide extra music to mark the major Church Festivals, and take part in special services and concerts. We are grateful to our Choir for the way in which they carry on this tradition.
Here are a few highlights from the first half of 2017:-
An Epiphany Celebration was held on the evening of Sunday 8th January. This featured seasonal carols, motets and anthems by Stainer, Holst, John Rutter, John Joubert and others, together with traditional Epiphany hymns.
The annual Candlemas Service of Light took place on Sunday 5th February. During the course of this liturgy the Choir sang seasonal works by Bach, Bourgeois, Vaughan Williams and Stainer. Near the end of the service the whole congregation joined in singing the Nunc Dimittis, thereby highlighting in music the words of the Candlemas Gospel.
On Palm Sunday evenings we have been following, since 2008, the powerful and meaningful liturgy called The Way of the Cross. This includes a sequence of readings reflecting the Passion Narrative, together with hymns, motets and anthems old and new, providing a musical dimension to the spoken parts of the service.
For the past ten years the celebratory evening service on Easter Day has taken the form of nine readings and a selection of seasonal music. In 2017 this Festival of Easter comprised many of the great Easter hymns alongside choral works including Blessed be the God and Father by S. S. Wesley, the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah and pieces by de Severac, Barnard and others.
At the beginning of July members of the Choir took part in a recording for BBC Songs of Praise. The location was Tenby Harbour, and the programme was broadcast later in the year.
On 20th July a Summer Concert was presented by St. Mary’s Church Choir and Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Mark Thompson. The main work performed was the Vivaldi Gloria and the programme also included pieces by Purcell, Bach, Mozart, Widor and John Rutter. The orchestra had been specially assembled by Mark Thompson, and we are hoping to further develop this project in the future.
In addition to their regular duties, the Choir sang at several other special services and events in 2017.
It is appropriate at this point to say a special “Thank you” to Judy Davies and Mark Thompson for all their work in the past year.
We are grateful to Tenby Male Choir for their sponsorship of St. Mary’s Church Choir on a number of occasions between 2015 and 2017. This facilitated the purchase of new copies of Handel’s Messiah, the Vivaldi Gloria, the requiem by Faure, and, most recently, new carol books for Christmas 2017.
Tenby Male Choir has a prominent role in the many concerts held annually at St. Mary’s, and we are pleased to continue and develop our happy association with them and with the Griffon Choir. Many of the summer concerts are in aid of local, national and international charities and attract audiences from far and wide.
At the end of September a number of Tenby Arts Festival concerts took place at St. Mary’s, and in December Greenhill School presented a Christmas Concert.
The music of our churches depends upon the hard work, dedication and support of many people. A big “Thank you” to everyone involved.
When the Rev. George Huntington founded St. Mary’s Church Choir and acquired the present organ in 1869, he showed faith and vision. As we approach the 150th Anniversary in December 2019, we hope to be able to continue and further develop what he started all those years ago, and that the ministry of music will be offered here far into the future.
P.S. from the Rector:
I cannot let this report go without mentioning the wonderful work done for us by Dr John Harrison. John is not just a brilliant musician – he is a man of deep faith, and this shines through everything he does for us in St Mary’s and in the wider benefice. How blessed we are by his ministry. - Andrew