SUSSEX HARMONY: The delightful group of West Gallery singers Sussex Harmony made a return visit to All Saints’ last weekend to bring us a programme of music from rural Sussex and its environs (including a hymn called Waldron). It’s a pity there weren’t more in the audience because they were brilliant and we learnt a lot about the history and tradition of the music we would have enjoyed up till the mid-19th century in our own little church. Why West Gallery? Way back then the exclusively male musicians (who brought their own instruments along) sat in a gallery as far away from the priest as possible that is, at the west end and the congregation turned to face the singers when they joined in the music. By all accounts (read Thomas Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree for more) churchgoing was a jolly affair at least as far as the music was concerned, though hour-long sermons filled with fire and brimstone must have been a counter to too much jollification. Then the Victorians rebuilt and extended village churches and sneakily pulled down the choir gallery, moving the choir stalls to the other end of the church, putting the choristers under the eye of the priest. The amateur musicians with their ancient viols and recorders (and even the occasional serpent) were discouraged and drowned out by the arrival of the organ and that particular tradition of church music gradually died out. But not entirely, because the Reverend RH MacDermott took it upon himself to write (in his own handwriting!) to no less than 200 parishes asking for information about the old village music and the people who performed it. One of those who responded was George Collins of Rafters in Waldron Street (builder, contractor, undertaker, house decorator, signwriter and glazier and sometime wheelwright) who was able to list some of the musicians and singers who had performed at All Saints through the nineteenth century, some of them born in the late 18th century. His letter to Rev Mac Dermott is amongst the papers of the Sussex Archaeological Society. Rachel Jordan, leader of Sussex Harmony, told us this delightful story between songs and shed light on a part of our history which few of us knew anything about. When the group returns to the village again, bringing their cheerful melodies and their costumes, do come along, you’ll enjoy yourself. Ironically Sussex Harmony agreed to come to us to help raise money for the rebuilding project of our Victorian church organ, the instrument which played such a large part in the diminution of the old tradition of do-it-yourself church music.
SINGING FOR FUN: Speaking of singing, the next get-together of the Singing for Fun group will be on Monday at 2pm at Cross in Hand Methodist hall at the top of Firgrove Road. Cars can be parked just below the Hall in Firgrove Road on the left travelling towards Waldron. You are encouraged to bring along ideas and/or music to share among the group, and there’s time for a chat and refreshments. Charges are minimal, just enough to cover costs.
PUB QUIZ: The next pub quiz will be on Monday April 30 and will follow the usual format. Maximum six people per team and a one-course supper is included in the price. It’s a cheerful and cheap evening out and will give your little grey cells an outing.
SERVICES: This Sunday is the fourth of Easter and the feast of St George and services will both be at St Bartholomew’s. Holy Communion will be at 8am with Rev Lucy Murdoch presiding and preaching. Parish Eucharist will be at 10am and president and preacher will be Rev George Pitcher. The Annual Meeting of the Parish Council, open to everybody, churchgoers or not, will be at St Bartholomew’s on Thursday April 26 at 7pm. Members and officers of the PCC will be elected, and there will be a full report on the year 2017 and what’s happening for and in our churches. With major plans to extend and improve St Bart’s, there’s plenty to talk about.
CHURCH LOCKED: Work will begin shortly on the organ at All Saints and will continue for about six weeks. While that is going on the church will be kept locked, unless the contractors are on site or a keyholder is present. If you need to get into the church (other than services) between April 23 and mid-June, please let one of the churchwardens know, either Ian Dixon (01435 813363) or Sarah Mackenzie (01435 866419).