This week’s blog is from Mr Sean Fitzpatrick, Chorister Tutor & Assistant Director of Music and Mrs Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, School Chaplain.
Music and spirituality are intertwined throughout history, into the very foundations of our school. Where you find music, you find spirituality, as so often music can capture the ineffable wisdom of God in a way that language cannot. Ahead of their departure at Christmas, Mr Fitzpatrick (Assistant Director of Music and Chorister Tutor) and Mrs Fitzpatrick (School Lay Chaplain) reflect below on their experiences of musical and spiritual life here at ECS.
I could talk for hours on just how proud each and every member of ECS makes me, only recently in our Autumn Concert, every child stood up and gave a musical performance, every child! It’s incredible when you think about it. But alas, I only have a short space in which to share my thoughts, so as Chorister Tutor, I would like to share a thought I had one February afternoon, that I recorded:
I sat musing on what an amazing experience it must be to be a cathedral chorister. I never had that chance, but one thing that I have learned from my role here is that being a chorister is hard work, a huge commitment, and takes a great deal of time and patience for all involved. In the busyness of the daily routines and pressures that affect us all, both individually and corporately, it can sometimes be easy to forget what being a chorister really means, and why it is all so worthwhile. If I may, here are one or two of my own thoughts on what it might mean to be a chorister.
I’m sure you will agree that what our choristers achieve is nothing short of incredible, with feats of consummate artistry, alongside some of the most affecting and astonishingly profound musical moments to be heard anywhere. What a privilege it is to work with such a dedicated group of young people, and what a privilege it is to hear the fruits of the hard work they put in every day. What our choristers achieve musically is something that transcends language and emotion, and touches the very soul; and it is this achievement that, for me, encapsulates what means to be a chorister in Exeter Cathedral Choir.
The spiritual life at ECS has continued to unfold and thrive this term. It’s been a joy to support pupils in exploring their faith and spirituality within the beautiful surroundings of Exeter Cathedral, as part of celebration of key Christian festivals, through ECS Prayer Space, and of course through our weekly acts of worship in Pre-Prep, Lower and Upper years.
Over the past 2-and-bit-years as Chaplain, I have had the honour of witnessing God at work in our lives through the actions and words of our pupils, staff and the wider ECS family. The sense of support, acceptance and love is at the core of our school, and you can see these values at work in the words and actions of our children. Our pupils have a passion for doing their bit to make the world a happier place; from organising an International Day to educate, and celebrate diversity, to running a penny drive to raise money for women’s rights advocacy, going tech-free to raise funds for Farms for City Children, or playing vital roles in crafting and shaping the evolution of or collective worship, our pupils are actively seeking opportunities to build a better world.
It has also been great to welcome parents and guardians to so many of our acts of worship, especially to the Pre-Prep Cathedral services, established in 2017. Over the past 2 years it has been a blessing to see our wider community come together in worship through the seasons of Harvest, Christmas, Epiphany and Ascension, ECS is a truly special place to be.
Looking ahead to the future, I am excited by the prospect of our children continuing to shape worship, through serving, writing prayers and liturgy as well as taking a lead on the selection and support of our new charity of the year (which will be announced in next week’s newsletter!).
There is no easy way to say goodbye to ECS, it has and will always be, a key part of mine and Mr Fitzpatrick’s lives. Thankfully, we still have a few weeks to go, but when the sad time does arrive, I will hold the words of this Irish Blessing very close to my heart:
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you, ever in the palm of his hand.