A dream that is dying in Holborn

Sep 2, 2017 by

from Church Times:

Can St Sepulchre’s recover the vision of being the Musicians’ Church, asks Andrew Earis:

OVER the past two weeks, we have seen more than 6000 signatories on a petition, a letter in The Guardian from many of the UK’s leading musicians, and national and inter­national press coverage about the closure of St Sepulchre’s, the Na­­tional Musicians’ Church, to sacred and secular concerts and rehearsals (News, 25 August).

It is a building that has touched many lives over the years, from those who have relatives with names in the Musicians’ Book of Remem­brance to those who have sung at the annual St Cecilia’s Day service as young choristers, and the hundreds of amateur and professional music­­ians who rehearse and per­­form there each month.

I first became associated with St Sepulchre’s as an undergraduate, and was privileged to be Director of Music for 15 years. Over that time, we built up an exciting programme of musical activity with worship at its heart. We developed choral and organ scholarships, an occasional St Sepulchre’s Festival, and produced recordings and broadcasts.

Throughout this period, we worked with the diocese of London on large-scale building projects that brought the church facilities up-to-date, created new spaces, and helped to fulfil its ministry as the National Musicians’ Church. We welcomed many choirs and orchestras to re­­hearse and perform, and warmly en­­couraged members of these groups to take an active part in our wor­ship­­ping life.

When the parish priest retired four years ago, we worked closely with the diocese of London to draw up exciting plans to expand the musical ministry of St Sepulchre’s further by setting up a Musicians’ Church Trust to look after the build­­ing and grow the activity. There was much energy and excite­­ment at the time as we explored the question of what “National Music­ians’ Church” actually means. Was it a historical monument or a living church? It felt as if St Sepulchre’s was coming of age.

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