St Wulfram’s Church is home for a busy choral community of children, young people and adults from across the Grantham area, who meet regularly to learn to sing choral music, and who form a nationally renowned church choir.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
— Psalm 104:33
Not being able to meet to sing together was such a culture shock for St Wulfram’s Church Choir at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown. It became clear that the members not only wanted to continue to share in community, but they wanted to sing, to produce music for Sundays, and to give out a positive message in such difficult and unsettling times.
We have learnt the art of producing composite virtual anthems while all members stay safe in their homes. The method works through podcasting rehearsal videos to the choir, both on singing technique, learning notes, interpreting the music and understanding its historical background.
When members are ready, they record themselves on phone voice memo recorders while listening through headphones to a synthesised backing track and conducting file I have produced. Once they are happy, the choir families send through the memos, and I layer them together using audio editing software.
After a few hours of work, this can produce results that show the togetherness and connectedness of St Wulfram’s Church Choir, even though we can’t actually meet together at the moment. It has also kept our choir fully engaged, including the youngest and oldest members, and our music has had a wider reach nationally and internationally than ever before.
We are producing an archive of our virtual recordings here, but we are still looking forward to the wonderful feeling of singing together again when it is safe to do so, and we hope the choir will be stronger for this experience. Please enjoy our singing.
Dr Tim Williams, Master of the Music, St Wulfram’s Church, Grantham
The Wilderness - our final virtual piece of the summer term was The Wilderness by Samuel Sebastian Wesley, featuring a quartet and the full choir in a piece of epic dimensions.
Hear my Prayer - As we approach the end of the summer term, we recorded Mendelssohn's epic anthem, Hear my Prayer, with the famous solo (ending in 'O for the wings of a dove') sung by a senior girl chorister.
Sumsion, They that go down to the sea In ships. We recorded Herbert Sumsion's epic anthem, They that go down to the sea in ships in preparation for evensong on Sunday 5 July 2020, with organ accompaniment provided from home by Joseph Beech.
The Nunc Dimittis from Stanford's Evening Service in G features a baritone solo - we recorded this for a virtual evensong as a pair to the Magnificat.
Magnificat in G - This week we have recorded Charles Villiers Stanford's Magnificat in G, featuring a famous treble solo.
How shall I sing thy majesty - On Sunday 14 June, St Wulfram's Church Choir participated with choirs from around the world in the Royal School of Church Music's Big Music Sunday service, by singing the final hymn, How shall I sing thy majesty. (The choir begins to sing at 59 minutes 35 seconds in to the recording).
I saw the Lord. We recorded John Stainer's famous anthem for double choir, I saw the Lord, to publish on Trinity Sunday, with organ accompaniment recorded from home by Joseph Beech.
Dum complerentur Pentecostes - On the evening of Pentecost 2020, we published Victoria’s motet for the day of Pentecost, Dum complementor Pentecostes. The text refers to the disciples gathered, being engulfed by the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit – which is represented musically by the rushing polyphonic lines.
Loquebantur variis linguis by Thomas Tallis - our virtual anthem for Pentecost morning 2020. (‘The apostles spoke in many languages of the great works of God, Alleluia, as the Holy Spirit gave them the gift of speech.’) In constructing this seven-part anthem, we sought the help of church music historian, Professor Magnus Williamson, to explore its basis in plainsong as well as sixteenth-century source material (the John Baldwin partbooks). We adapted our virtual methodology for recording this, attempting to recreate as much as possible the sense of independence of each vocal line that Elizabethan singers might have felt singing from partbooks in a domestic setting.
O Lord, give thy Holy Spirit by Thomas Tallis is a beautiful, simple, Tudor English anthem, which we enjoyed recording for the Sunday before Pentecost. This piece has been in the choir’s repertoire for the past three years and is also often used as an introit for evensong.
Ave verum corpus by W.A. Mozart (1756-91) - In producing this famous piece, we collaborated with the Chapel Hill Duo, Sarah James and Jaya Hanley, who are friends of the choir, and recorded the accompaniment for us as a virtual string quartet. Jaya recorded both violin parts, and Sarah recorded the viola and cello parts, both on the cello. Once Sarah and Jaya stitched this together, we were able to use their ‘quartet’ as the accompaniment file as singers recorded their own parts. We are very pleased both with the result and with the very high engagement of our youngest choristers in this project.
Ave Maria by Robert Parsons. Robert Parsons was a significant composer of the early Elizabethan period, and local to Lincolnshire when he wrote this beautiful polyphonic setting of the text Ave Maria. The choir learnt this entirely as a new piece during the lockdown.
Easter Anthem by William Billings. This joyful anthem ‘The Lord is Risen Indeed’ dates from the early era of American choral music. The choristers had great fun recording this piece, and due to some of the very fast music it took many hours to stitch the voice memos together!
Ego sum panis vivus by Palestrina – we recorded this in the weeks after Easter, its vibrant polyphony expressing the text that translates as ‘I am the living bread’.
This joyful Eastertide, a popular hymn arranged by Charles Wood, published for Easter Day 2020.
God so loved the world, from Stainer’s Crucifixion, our music for Good Friday 2020.
Ave verum corpus, William Byrd’s eucharistic anthem, sung for Maundy Thursday 2020.
‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, this piece was the choristers’ first experiment in learning a new piece from scratch while remote from each other - Tomas Luis de Victoria’s setting of the Palm Sunday antiphon translated as ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’.
Hurford’s Litany to the Holy Spirit, in the first week of the lockdown, the youngest boy and girl choristers wanted to record one of their favourite pieces, Hurford’s Litany to the Holy Spirit, as a gift to all those in need and all who care for them.
‘O Saviour of the world’, we recorded Thomas Tallis’s Salvator mundi (‘O Saviour of the world’) for Passion Sunday 2020.
If ye love me by Thomas Tallis. Our very first virtual anthem as we experimented with methodology, published for Mothering Sunday 2020 (in our first days remote from each other).
A typical week will include separate after-school social clubs for our boys’ choir, girls’ choir and teenage youth choir. They all combine to rehearse on a Friday evening, and further weekday evening choir practices are held for our adult church choir. At the weekend, we hold chorister training activities, and the choir sings for morning and evening services on Sunday.
The ancient walls of St Wulfram’s Church thus resound, all week round, to the voices of young and old celebrating, praising, worshiping and expressing prayer through sacred music, continuing an unbroken centuries old tradition, and building it as a legacy for future generations.
At St Wulfram’s Church, we are very proud of all our choristers, and all they achieve. In recent years, they have sung services in inspirational venues such as St Paul’s Cathedral, St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Salisbury Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral, St David's Cathedral and York Minster, to great acclaim, in addition to all their singing here at St Wulfram’s.
Our children’s choirs begin from the age of seven – boys and girls are given equal prominence and training. Our mixed-voice youth choir (14-18) continues the training, so that members can sing in confident harmony. Currently our youth and children’s choirs have more than 40 members, drawn from many local schools. And our adult church choir is open to all ages of people who are willing to throw themselves into our choral community. If you or someone you know would like to join one of our choirs, please contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 07764 536483, or leave a note for me in the parish office. I am happy to arrange appointments to discuss choir membership.
Other activities our choristers enjoy together have included bowling, ice-skating, laserquest, rounders, football, pizza, quiz evenings, and ceilidhs. We are much more than just a choir!
And, of course, if you just enjoy hearing the sound of our church choir, please know that we all also enjoy the fellowship of creating music in your presence. We hope that, whether creating moments of inspiration or space for reflection, our choir’s music can help you in whatever small way in your life’s journey.
Dr Tim Williams, Director of Music
email@example.com – 07764 536483
Boys’ choir Tuesday 3.30pm-5.15pm Friday 6.00pm-7.30pm.
Girls’ choir Wednesday 3.30pm-5.15pm Friday 6.00pm-7.30pm.
Youth choir Monday 3.45pm-5.30pm Friday 7.30pm -9.00pm
Adult choir Friday 7.30pm -9.00pm
15 May 2019 - Friends of Cathedral Music
We are delighted to announce that St Wulfram's Church has been awarded an Endowment Grant of £25,000 in support of choral scholarships from the Friends of Cathedral Music (FCM). This is an exciting and permanent boots to our initiative to develop and enrich the musical education of teenage singers, who have featured recently in articles published by the Royal School of Church Music as well as by the FCM. We arre grateful to the FCM for their support of our choral foundation, and we look forward to welcoming representatives to St Wulfram's Church in the autumn for the presentation of the grant.
Dr Tim Williams, Master of the Music
Fr Stuart, Rector