St. James has long had a strong choral tradition… and our choir, consisting of choristers (boys and girls), men and ladies work to uphold this.
The choir sings at the principal Church services, Sunday morning Communion and choral Evensong (occasionally a full sung choral evensong service) as well as on special occasions such as festivals or weddings when requested.
At Christmas time the choir normally has a number of carol singing engagements, which in the past have included such venues as local nursing homes. On Christmas Eve the choir visits Woodhall Hotel to provide carol singing for the guests who spend the Christmas period at the hotel in its wonderful setting near Linton, before returning to Wetherby, hopefully in time for a pint (!) before singing in Church at the Midnight Service.
We have a library of over 500 pieces, most of the music sung as four part harmonies, written on two staves.
As well as receiving voice & musical training (eg. theory, voice projection, sight reading) and an early appreciation of sacred and secular music, choristers are also encouraged in the development of their knowledge of the Christian faith and most later decide to come forward for confirmation.
The choristers are paid for their time and effort and the contribution they bring to the music at St. James.
The Royal School of Church music
The choir is affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music and, as such, choristers are trained by the Choirmaster towards a set of attainment targets, each marked by the award of an RSCM badge with a coloured ribbon.
When new choristers join the choir, they wear just a blue cassock in church, and they begin to familiarise themselves with the liturgies etc.
http://www.rscm.com/During a probation period the chorister begins working towards the Junior Chorister level. when they have demonstrated dedication and commitment to the choir by attending rehearsals and services on a regular basis, and after some basic tests (where a basic understanding of music needs to be demonstrated as well as an understanding of psalm pointing) they are made a full member of the choir, and are presented with their white surplice and junior chorister medal (light blue ribbon) in a short ceremony usually at the end of a Sunday morning service.
Senior Chorister (red ribbon) This is the most advanced position of the scheme at Parish level and requires a deeper religious knowledge, repertoire and greater singing skills, including a requirement to demonstrate an ability to sing both soprano parts. Upon completion of all requirements, the chorister is promoted and receives a red ribbon.
Other Awards A complementary system of awards assessed through formal examination by the Royal School of Church Music.
The Bronze Award (also known as The Dean’s Award)
The Silver Award (also known as The Bishop’s Award)
St. Cecilia Award (girls) and St. Nicholas Award (boys) now combined as The Gold Award.
Choir practice takes place each Friday evening from 6.30pm (Adults 7.30pm – 9.00pm) in the Church.
Membership involves teamwork and commitment, but also fellowship and fun. Once a year, we organise an away day both for the choir and congregation. This normally involves a trip to the beach on the East Coast or a fun fair followed by singing Evensong in a local Church and then a fish & chip supper.
Also once a year, a number of our choristers attend the Royal School of Church Music summer course held at Kingswood School in Bath. This is the largest of the RSCM summer courses and takes place during the week and weekend leading up to the August bank holiday.
The course offers training and support to choristers, the value of which can clearly be seen (or heard) by the contribution they bring to the music in the Parish. It focuses on spiritual development as well as singing and recreation. It offers the widest liturgical variety of RSCM courses and concludes with Evensong Services on the Saturday and Sunday afternoons sung in Bath Abbey.
You are always welcome to come down to Church any Friday evening (except during the month of August during which the choir has its annual break) at 6.30pm to speak to the Director of Music, Michael Payne. Previous singing experience is not essential.