Parish Carol Concert

Hello friends, I’m really looking forward to conducting you at the parish carol concert.  You’ve worked hard this term and are going to sound great.  We’ll meet 6.30-6.45 in the Westlake Room for the warm-up and then we’ll run through our two pieces.  I attach the concert programme also for you to take a look at.

Ladies: wear black with red accessories.

Gentlemen: Black tie / black lounge suit with white shirt and tie.

After the concert I’ve got a table booked for Christmas drinks and nibbles at the Haywain from about 9.15 onwards.  I hope you can make it.

Helen X


O Holy Night

Hello friends,

it was good to see so many of you on Sunday – some great singing of the new hymns looking ahead to 20th December 9.30 mass.  Also we got a chance to go through the Christmas repertoire all together.  It’s sounding good.

I came across this performance of O Holy Night by an Italian, male-voice choir, they’re singing the same arrangement that we have, though the verses are sung by a soloist (unlike us.)  Have a listen to it if you get a chance, simply as an example of what I was saying about the dynamic shading we worked on last Sunday. They do it beautifully here – and you can also do it too!

You were all so keen to sing the Christmas Sanctus that I’ve handed out extra copies of the music and we went through it in detail.  All sounding good, despite the missing male harmonies in two of the sections!

I very much hope to see as many of you as possible on Thursday for our dress rehearsal (soloists and extra singers will be coming to that too.) You don’t have to wear your posh outfits or anything on Thursday by the way! We’ll stick to the black and red accessories that works so well for the night of the concert by the way.

That’s all for now, see you on Thursday (and Sunday after mass.)


Choir feedback

Hello friends,

here is a feedback form which I’d very much like you to fill in (anonymously.) It’s something which I’ve been meaning to do for a while and which most other choirs do every so often, as a way of charting progress and exchanging ideas and suggestions. I’d like to hear what you think about your choir.  I welcome your honest feedback if you have a minute to fill it in.  Thanks in advance, Helen.


Christmas is coming…..!

Hello friends,

as we go full speed ahead with our Christmas repertoire here’s a reminder of the rehearsal aids that I prepared for you last year on the website to help you practise your parts at home and be note-ready when you come to rehearsals (thus making better use of our limited rehearsal time.)  The majority of you have chosen to sing O Holy Night once again as one of our solo choir pieces at this year’s carol concert.  It was a huge success last year and we’re going to try to sing the full four verses this year as the congregation were left wanting more last year (when we only sang two due to length of our arrangement.)

We have dusted it down and started going through it already – it needs some more work before it’s performance ready.  Do please try to go through it with the rehearsal aids at home whenever you can.  I am rehearsing on a Sunday with as many of you as possible and on a Thursday with the female voices in sectional rehearsals.  The last two weeks before our performance I will be asking you to please try to make it to choir practice without fail please as I need to have all of you together for run-throughs.

There will be a second piece performed by a smaller group of voices which I have invited to sing the Christmas Sanctus.  It is an intimate, ensemble piece which requires a particular blend of voices across the soprano, alto, tenor, bass range and which I hope to experiment with during rehearsals.  If it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t matter, we’ll just leave it out.

Because there is one less choir to perform this year we have to sing two numbers per choir – the rest of the carols will be choirs and congregation together.

For the Christmas Eve Vigil mass at 3pm which we are leading, we’ll also be singing the Christmas Hallelujah like we did last year – choir sings chorus, and soloists sing verses. Paul and Amanda have kindly agreed to sing the solo parts.  We’ll be refreshing those lovely harmonies in the chorus at the next rehearsal.  So plenty to be getting on with.  How exciting, Christmas is coming!


Here’s links to O Holy Night – including the solos as per the arrangement we used last year (at the beginning of each verse and then in parts on pages 3 and 4 – the latter we took out last year) in case you wish to include them this year.

1. Soprano part 2. Alto  3. Tenor 4. Bass (I’ve left out the female solo descant part on purpose.)  And just for you to enjoy here’s a performance of O Holy Night by the choir of King’s College Cambridge.


Hark! the herald angels sing: (which we have transposed to a lower key so it’s easier to reach those high notes! Worked well for sopranos at this morning’s rehearsal.)


The rest of the carols below are for us to sing at the Family Vigil mass where the congregation will be singing along with us most of the time (all of them are in the hymn book except for Starry Night so I’ll have to drop that one.) Here are some links to favourite clips from YouTube for your enjoyment.

Away in a Manger

Silent Night

Angels we have heard on high

Ding Dong Merrily on High


The First Nowell:




10 worst things about being a choral singer

Here’a a fun piece courtesy of Classic FM on the not-so-fun things about singing in a choir.  It’s tongue in cheek and you shouldn’t take any of it too seriously. Enjoy the half-term everyone! Get ready for full Christmas mode when we get back (first rehearsal for those of you who are here will be on Sunday 1st November after 9.30 mass.)



Hot cocoa, scrambled eggs


What do these have in common? Why is this post appearing in the rehearsal aids section of your choir’s website? Here’s a clue: it’s all about the rhythm. I’d like to share a brilliant, visual aid and will help every developing singer to cement note values and rhythmic patterns in their scores.  Have fun, sing them out loud, play clapping games with your children!  Hot cocoa, scrambled eggs, it’s all about the rhythm.

Photo courtesy of the London Youth Choir

Photo courtesy of the London Youth Choi


Bread of Life & Ubi Caritas

Hello friends it was good to see so many of you this morning at practice. Special thanks to Trish for accompanying so brilliantly. Good, solid progress on harmonies in “Bread of Life” learnt quickly. It was the rhythms in the verses which surprised us most (including myself) we have to watch out we don’t get caught out as they are different in each verse.

We also went through the response to the psalm we’ll be singing on 21st June “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will” (Psalm tone E Alex) which we’ve sung before about a year ago.

Ubi Caritas is now ready to go after several weeks’ practice. Well done everyone.

Parish notices: On Sunday 7th June we won’t be able to rehearse in the Westlake Room as it’s the Going Forth Mass and party for First Communion Children. I’ll be tied up with that as will Phil and Amanda.

After the half-term break and due to popular request, I’ll be restarting the Thursday rehearsals for those who wish to have extra practice for our September gig. First one will be June 4th at 8.15. This does not affect our Sunday rehearsals at all.

Enjoy the half-term break everyone, we have lots of hard work to get through once we come back!

Best wishes,

Singalong Sunday!

Hello friends,

It was great to see you this morning at choir practice and some very good work covered. Excellent learning of the Ubi Caritas and a run-through of the melodies in unison of Bread of Life. We’ll be learning the chorus of this last one in parts ready for the next time we sing at mass which will be the 17th June. For those who weren’t there this morning, 17th May is Communion Masses Day and our choir will not be singing in their usual 3rd Sunday slot as there are other arrangements to cover those masses (plus I can’t make it either as my son is receiving a First Holy Communion on that day too!)

As I mentioned, here are the clips that I’ve played through and recorded for your individual parts for both Ubi Caritas and Bread of Life (just your notes so you can hear them clearly – despite my imperfect singing!) Have a listen through them and I’ll have your photocopied lyrics and sheets music ready for next time we meet on Sunday.

Rehearsal aids

We enjoyed singing through a first run of “Lean on Me” which was suggested as a contender for our set on 18th September. I’ll get more of those photocopied at the printers for next week. We also rocked the Westlake Room to its very foundations singing along to “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” Always fun to sing along to new and varied songs which you might one day choose to perform. Well done everyone you were sounding great.

I hope you have a lovely Sunday.

All best wishes,

“I wanna sing, sing, sing!”

Hello friends,

it was great to see you on Sunday and also to welcome two new singers to our group, Fernando who’ll join the male section and Isabel Smith who will join the soprano section (she can only make the Thursday evening rehearsals by the way.)  I know you will make them feel very welcome.
A reminder that we’ll be meeting in the Lady Chapel on Thursday at 8.15 for our next choir practice.  In the final two weeks before we sing at the Faith In Action concert on 13th March it would be great if as many of you as possible could attend rehearsals Sundays and/or Thursday evenings.  If you can’t for whatever reason do please try and go through the songs we’ll be performing in your own time? If you need mp3 parts or any help just let me know asap.  Here’s the set that we’re singing for the 13th March concert in this order:
  1. California Dreaming
  2. Make you feel my love – soloist: Sandra Dunn.
  3. Walking in the Air – soloists: Niamh Watson, Phil Wells and Sandra Dunn.
  4. Patience – soloists: Paul Tooke and Phil Wells.
  5. Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word – duet sung by Phil Wells and Sandra Dunn.
  6. Gospel Medley

Here’s a provisional list of hymns I’ve put together for the 4th Sunday of Lent (15 March) largely based on the suggested hymns at the back of the hymnal.  We’re also learning new material in preparation for Easter Sunday.

  1. Processional – Gather us In (253)
  2. Psalm 136 (We started learing this on Sunday, I’ll bring more copies on Thursday for those of you who weren’t there.)
  3. Offertory – Here I am Lord (285)
  4. Communion – Come to the Water (Martha solo, Trish, Jola alto harmonies.) Female voices could learn it too if you wish and sing together.)
  5. Communion  – Praise the Lord, oh my soul (Marvellous, marvellous.)
  6. (Second collection if required?) Be Light for Our Eyes (120) (We made a good start on this and learnt the chorus on Sunday. Work in progress!  This one will probably be sung on Easter Sunday.)
  7. Recessional – Shine, Jesus Shine (388)

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday.  Have a great week!