St Matthew’s ORGAN 125
Events - 20 September to 4 October
Celebrating the 125th
anniversary of the 1895 J.W. Walker organ.
days of not being able to sing together, we hope to once
again fill our wonderful church with choral music on
Sunday 20 September during the Parish Mass. The safety
of our choir family and the congregation is paramount
and we have a robust plan in the works to ensure that we
are able to comply with current guidance. Things will
inevitably look and sound different for a while but the
choir is eager to get back to work.
During the summer term the choristers were as busy as
ever honing their musical skills. Every week 14 music
lessons took place online, with nine choristers learning
the piano, three learning the recorder, and most having
had singing lessons with our singing tutor, Rhonda
Browne. Although we weren't able to sing together it was
a hugely beneficial time for building musicianship. The
choristers are grateful to the Friends of St Matthew’s
Music for their support in enabling learning to
We'll be kicking off the academic year with a series
featuring our J.W.
Walker organ which turns '125' on St Matthew's Day.
To mark the occasion we have commissioned a special
piece, A Little Organ Mass of the Angels, by
former chorister and distinguished composer, Robert
Walker. Details are below.
We would love for you to join us for any of our services
and events - but please remember HANDS, FACE,
and SPACE so that we can all be together safely.
The maximum seating capacity, observing two metre
physical distancing, is 70. The services below are
public acts of worship, open to all, and it is extremely
difficult in the present circumstances to anticipate the
number of those wanting to attend, so please arrive
early and we will try to accommodate as many people as
safely as possible.
unable to join us in person, we intend to livestream the
services and events detailed below; they can be viewed
website or the
parish Facebook page. On Facebook, the streams will
appear on the
parish's page, and not the choir page, so be sure to
'follow' the parish page if you haven't already.
Sunday 20th September at 5:30pm
[St John's College, Cambridge]
To kick off 'ORGAN 125' we're delighted to be holding
our first-ever 'Organ Evensong.' During this special
liturgical service the organ will act as the choir,
playing the psalm and canticles, along with movements of
Vierne's rousing Third Symphony.
Adagio and Final from 3rd Symphony for organ, op
Louis Vierne (1870-1934)
Psalm Prelude, set 1 no 2, op 32 Herbert Howells
Magnificat from Fifteen Pieces for Organ, Founded
on Antiphons, op 18
Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf, BWV 617
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
The 2020 St Matthew's Day
the 125th anniversary of the installation of our iconic
Walker organ. A gift
of Mrs Mary Ann Phipps, the widow of Pickering Phipps Sr,
it was unveiled at the Patronal Festival in 1895. With 4
manuals and nearly 3,000 pipes, it is unusually large
for a parish church organ, and its beautiful voicing is
known throughout the country. We had plans to mark this
anniversary; The IAO’s
Midlands Organ Day was due to take place at St
Matthew’s this month, and a recital series was scheduled
for this past summer term. However, all is not lost as
we have commissioned a very special piece for this
year’s Patronal Festival. The majority of the funds for
this endeavour have come from the Walter Hussey Music
Bequest, which endowment was given to the parish
specifically for the purpose of commissioning new music
for St Matthew’s Day. Additional funds have been
provided by the Friends.
This year’s commission, A Little Organ Mass of the
Angels, is based on the Missa de Angelis.
Some of you who have been around long enough will be
familiar with this famous plainsong setting.
World-renowned composer and former St Matthew’s
Robert Walker, has designed a mass which can be sung
by a cantor alone, or a socially-distanced choir,
depending on the resources available based on current
guidelines. As with 17th century French ‘organ masses,’
the organ plays a significant part, alternating with the
singers in sometimes virtuosic flourishes reflecting the
text and melody. It is our intention to premiere this
exciting and versatile work on St Matthew’s Day - Monday
21st September at 7:30pm in a service which will also be
broadcast on the
parish's Facebook page and
In the 1940s, Walter Hussey made a very bold statement,
when during the height of a world war, he installed
Child, and commissioned
Benjamin Britten to
write what would become one of the most important
contributions to choral literature in the 20th century.
In the midst of a global pandemic, we too are facing
troubling times, and the world is crying out for beauty
and comfort. It is our sincere hope that this year’s St
Matthew’s Day commission might be used by churches all
over world for the glory of God.
The Ron Gates Recital
Sunday 4th October at 6:15pm
(following Choral Evensong at 5:30pm)
[St Matthew's Church, Northampton]
After a bit of a hiatus we are glad to once again
present a St Matthew's-tide recital in honour of
long-time St Matthew's assistant organist,
who died in 2016. We were very saddened when his beloved
wife, Mary passed away in March; her funeral was held in
St Matthew's just before lockdown.
Our own director of music,
will be giving this recital. He'll be playing a second
performance of The Little Organ Mass of the Angels,
along with works by Elgar, Duruflé, Widor, and three new
The Orgelbüchlein Project. A retiring collection
will be taken for the Friends of St Matthew's Music.