Music at St Paul's
St. Paul’s maintains a fine musical tradition currently centred on the recently refurbished, historic, Forster & Andrews organ, a Steinway grand piano and a fine body of singers.
Our singers convene for festival services, particularly at Advent, Christmas & Easter and make up an accomplished 4-part traditional, unrobed parish choir of up to 25 voices. We are working towards introducing more regular “Choir Sundays” on the last Sunday of every calendar month, occasional Anglican Choral Evensong & other special choral celebrations.
We have space and a warm welcome waiting for anyone with enthusiasm of any age who wants to sing with us, or as a soloist, or join us to play an instrument in a liturgical setting. No audition or experience is required. All we ask is a modest degree of commitment; that you don’t give up too easily and you enjoy it!
St. Paul’s has a musically informed & supportive congregation who participate with gusto in our hymn & psalm singing. At present the repertoire inclines towards the “traditional”. As we progress, we will be introducing more of the better contemporary hymns and songs.
Interested? Come to any Sunday service at 10am and speak to our Director of Music and Organist, Alan Saggerson, afterwards; or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The organ is a critical part of our worship at St. Paul’s and sits at the heart of a lively musical community with frequent concerts, recitals and choral services. Services are enriched by the singing of hymns and the sound of organ music within the liturgy. The church is proud of its musical tradition and the organ plays a vital role in the provision of music, prayer and spiritual contemplation.
In 1880, Forster and Andrews of Hull, the foremost organ builder in Northern England, built the organ for St Paul’s Church and it originally stood where the Lady Chapel is now located. In 1970 it was moved to its present location when the hall was divided from the church.
St. Paul’s has an example of the “High Victorian” organ as it was developed in the late nineteenth century for parish churches. A comparatively modest stop-list belies its great power and sonority based on a solid 8 foot foundation with bold diapason choruses, particularly well-suited to congregational accompaniment; contrasting with rich flutes on each manual. The swell reeds are powerful & enjoy all the benefits of a convincing pp-ff crescendo on a balanced swell pedal. Versatility is achieved by variously coupling the 3 divisions to achieve a variety of colours. Economic & population growth after 1850 lead to the production of thousands of such parish church organs up and down the country in an English organ building boom unmatched anywhere in the world other than the USA. Forster & Andrews were based in Hull (established by 2 organ builders trained by the London firm of Bishop) and were renowned as leading exponents of Victorian organ building in churches and municipal centres (e.g. West Bromwich Town Hall) in what we would now call the “northern powerhouse”. The firm was dissolved in 1956.
Apart from a few minor changes, the organ is almost untouched from its original design. This is rare and very few Forster and Andrews instruments survive in such a preserved state. As such, the organ is of significant heritage value, in addition to being high-quality musical instrument.
By the time plans were initiated to restore the organ in about 2012, the instrument was in a sorry state of disrepair. Much of it did not work at all, and the bellows were not even able to cope with what little remained. In living memory (1970s) it was still being hand-pumped by an elderly parishioner. It was a wreck. What a transformation there has been since then.
A complete, historically congruent rebuild of the organ was finished in 2019 by Andrew Cooper & Co. Ltd. https://cooperorgans.co.uk/
For more in-depth information about the organ builders Forster and Andrews and the organ at St Paul's Clapham please read the pamphlet by Alan Saggerson here.
Organ Recitals 2023 Series
At St Paul's Church, CLAPHAM, SW4
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