The Church of England - Diocese of Chichester
Music at St Nicholas' Church, ArundelSt Nicholas' Choir
St Nicholas' Choir is a voluntary group which sings at all the major services at St Nicholas' Church. It is led by Sarah Plumley, organist and Director of Music. The choir's aim is to enhance the worship by leading the congregational singing and also singing certain parts of the service, anthems and motets, on its own.
The choral services are:
Evensongs at 6.00 pm on the first Sunday of the month (from January 2009)
Weekday services on feast days of the Church's Year, ie, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, All Souls', Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Ascension Day Advent and Christmas Carol Services
Christmas Community carol singing
From time to time, St Nicholas' Choir joins with another local church choir. Examples of this have been part of Faure's Requiem with Lyminster Church Choir on All Souls Day Nov. 2007, Stainer's Crucifixion with Lyminster Church Choir on Good Friday 2008, an Evensong with the Arundel Cathedral Choir April 2008, and Christmas Carol services with the Arundel Cathedral Choir.
The members of St Nicholas Choir are enthusiastic and committed. They work hard, with enjoyment and often with some humour, to maintain a high standard of preparation and good blend of voices for the music in the services.
The choir rehearses each Friday from 6.45 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. There are also occasional extra rehearsals (usually on a Saturday) at particularly busy times such as before Christmas and Easter.
At the moment, the regular Choir consists of seven sopranos, three altos, two tenors and five basses.
New members are welcome, and are normally asked to sing a verse or two of a hymn to the Director of Music. Ability to read music is an advantage but not essential, as this is a skill which can be developed.
Mass settings used in the services are usually congregational, eg Dom Gregory Murray, David Thorne, and Paul Inwood. At times, however, the Choir sings the setting by Sumsion or an extract from a setting such as the Agnus Dei from Byrd's Mass for Four Voices.
The hymns are largely (but not exclusively) traditional, and are mainly from the New English Hymnal. Psalms are sung to Anglican and responsorial chants. The Choir has a large repertoire of anthems for all times of the Church's year but some of the favourites include:
Lord, let me know mine end - Maurice Greene
Come, Holy Ghost - Thomas Attwood
If ye love me - Thomas Tallis
Matin Responsory - Palestrina
Rejoice in the Lord alway - Purcell
No small wonder - Paul Edwards
Ubi caritas - Durufle
I will sing with the Spirit - John Rutter
The St Nicholas' Junior Choir
A Junior Choir sings with the adults for the Family Service on the first Sunday of each month, at Evensong, and at special occasions such as the Advent and Christmas Carol Services and community carol singing: it also joined in the performance of Stainer's Crucifixion on Good Friday 2008.
The Junior Choir rehearses on Fridays from 6.00 pm to 6.40 pm in school term time. Rehearsals are fun and the children work not just on music for the services but also receive aural training and some general musical knowledge and reading of music. The present age range is ten to fourteen years but younger children are welcome. There are no auditions but to get the most out of the practices they need to be able to concentrate reasonably well and to read words with a fair amount of fluency.
The Junior Junior Choir (ages 6 to 8) meets on Fridays from 5.30 to 6.00pm and sings at the Family Service on the first Sunday of each month.
The Instrumental Group (children of any age with a basic reading music skills) meets on Tuesdays from 5.15 to 6pm.
Sarah Plumley, Director of Music
Sarah has been Director of Music at St Nicholas' for ten years, after she married and moved to Arundel from London. She previously had wide experience in organist's posts in London and as a choral singer and an accompanist.
Sarah trained at Trinity College of Music, London, as a pianist and organist, and gained the qualification of GTCL. She later also gained the ARCO. She studied organ with Harry Gabb, and with Sheila Lawrence after leaving Trinity. Sarah is a committed teacher and combines her work at St Nicholas' with
piano teaching at two nearby preparatory schools and at home, where she and her husband Nick have a collection of both modern and period keyboard instruments.
The Organ at St Nicholas' Church
The present organ dates from 1874. It was made by Messrs J M And C Corps of London, and contains some material from the original organ in the church, probably built by William Gray in 1817.
At first, it stood on a gallery which possibly formed the original rood loft spanning the eastern arch of the tower and blocking the view into the Fitzalan Chapel. It was last restored in 1991 by J W Walker and Sons Ltd.
The organ contains 3 manuals and pedals and 24 speaking stops, and retains its mechanical action to manuals and drawstops. In June 2008 the organ was awarded a certificate Grade 2 recognising the organ "as being an instrument of importance to the national heritage" by the British Institute of Organ Studies.
For more details about St Nicholas' music, choir or organ please email the Director or Music Sarah Plumley or phone her on 01903 88 32 65