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Easter with the Choristers

The run-up to Easter is one of those times of year that I always look forward to. After a well-deserved break the choristers returned to their duties (more than a week before their peers!) to sing the daily services of Holy Week; that solemn period of time that recounts the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ before his triumphant Resurrection on Easter Sunday itself. The passion story is, of course, one of the most dramatic stories that humans can recount, and yet, despite the inherent triumphant joys and deep sorrows of the story itself, it was, last week, made even more dramatic by the music that our choristers sang so beautifully and skilfully. More than enhancing the drama, in fact, the voices of our choristers brought the cathedral congregations to the very heart of the story, filling them with the emotion and very human experience of what it must have been like to be present in that moment.

The choristers started on Palm Sunday by singing the “St John Passion” by J.S Bach, one of the most challenging and spiritually enriching pieces of choral music ever written. This was followed by Evensong on Monday and Tuesday. Maundy Thursday saw the boys singing Chrism Eucharist in the morning followed by Solemn Eucharist in the Evening. This was followed on Friday by one of the most moving services in the Cathedral calendar- The Good Friday Passion Service. It is during this service that the Passion story is recounted in its entirety, and we hear about the cruel way that Christ was tortured and Crucified. I don’t mind sharing with you that “The Reproaches” by John Sanders sung so beautifully by our choristers never fails to move me to tears, and this year was certainly no exception (and the reason I don’t mind sharing it with you is because I would estimate that 95% of everyone else present was in the same boat!). Then the triumph of Easter on Sunday, with the three services filled with joyful fanfares and rejoicing, led ever so professionally by the choristers. Easter Monday saw the return of the “Old Choristers,” a group of ex-cathedral choristers ranging from those that left us last year to those that have a “few” more years’ experience; one in particular who was a chorister when the bomb fell on the South Quire Isle of Cathedral in 1942! Old Chorister day is always one of the highlights of the calendar for our current choristers as they get to sing and catch-up with old friends that have recently left.

It isn’t often that the choristers get a chance to “let their hair down” during such busy times of the year, but in wonderful sunshine and with impressive camaraderie they took to the football pitch during Chorister Sports on Holy Saturday, this year organised by the cathedral choir parents. This was a fantastic occasion that brought together families and friends, and even gave chorister siblings the chance to join in and have fun. This was followed by a lovely bring-and-share lunch at which, I have to say, the cake was particularly good!

I would just like to say a big personal “thank you” for all the people that make these events possible- The Cathedral team, the school catering team, Mr Baurance and Miss Rhodes in the boarding house and the fabulous work of the choir chaperones led by Ann Barwood, and to Sally Sedgman for her never-wavering and hugely valued support of our choristers. I would also like to say a big “thank you” to the chorister parents, without whose tireless efforts over the Easter Holidays would mean that we wouldn’t have a choir to sing at all! And, lastly, to the choristers themselves– thank you for making the Easter period so memorable and enriching for myself and all who heard you sing. You were sensational!

 

Sean Fitzpatrick
Assistant Director of Music and Chorister Tutor

26 April 2019
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