Annual Report 2019
Extracts from the Reports of the Diocesan Councils to the Diocesan Synod
Set up in 1991, Church Music Dublin continues to train, mentor and equip parish musicians in the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough. Our training scheme, the Archbishop of Dublin’s Certificate in Church Music (ACCM), is designed to attract those who seek to become good liturgical organists. The syllabus reflects the need for church musicians to lead and accompany congregations in worship. As a result, a number of hymns must be learned for each year of the course and material chosen reflects both Church Hymnal Fifth Edition (2000) and Thanks & Praise (2015).The Foundation course remains an option for those who wish to learn at an introductory level.
An important part of the training of church musicians includes liturgical principles and two sessions of Living Worship took place early in 2019. The first was led by Tristan Russcher, Director of Music at St Bartholomew’s Church. The topic was ‘Accessible Music for Holy Communion’ with a focus on choir training and conducting. This was a practical session and included suggestions for repertoire alongside helpful tips for choir directors.
The second session, on Saturday 23rd March 2019 was led by Ian Keatley, Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral. The topic was ‘Anglican Chant for All’ and there were over 60 people present – organists, choir singers and members of congregations. To everyone’s delight, the final part of the morning took place in the cathedral choir stalls. Responding to the obvious enthusiasm of those present for Anglican chant, since the beginning of September Church Music Dublin has arranged that the appointed psalm for each Sunday, headed by a well-known chant, can be quickly printed from the church music website. We believe parish choirs and others will find it much easier than at present to sing a psalm if it is available on a single A4 sheet.
When inviting people to serve on the Executive, our aim is that, as far as practicable, the committee should be representative of a wide range of worship styles. In May, we commenced discussions with some of those involved in leading the singing in churches where less structured and more flexible worship is the norm.
Previous reports have referred to the importance of good governance practice as regards the employment of church musicians. We urge select vestries to review the employment status of their organists to ensure compliance with current legal and revenue guidelines.
The deputy organist list continues to be included in the diocesan directory and a regularly up-dated version is on the church music website. All deputy organists are Garda Vetted in line with the policies of Safeguarding Trust.
The library of training videos continues to attract interest. The latest videos on registering (selecting appropriate stops) on both a parish organ and a larger instrument were uploaded in late 2018. All videos may be viewed on the website.
Set up in 1991, Church Music Dublin continues to train, mentor and equip parish musicians in the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough. Our training scheme, the Archbishop of Dublin’s Certificate in Church Music (ACCM), continues to attract those who seek to become competent liturgical organists. The syllabus reflects the need for musicians who are able to lead and accompany congregations in worship. As a result, a number of hymns must be learned for each year of the course and material chosen reflects both Church Hymnal Fifth Edition (2000) and Thanks & Praise (2015).The Foundation course remains an option for those who wish to learn at an introductory level.
Part of the training of church musicians includes liturgical principles and two sessions of Living Worship took place in 2018. The first was led by the Dean of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, the Very Revd Nigel Dunne, and Director of Music, Peter Stobart. This session explored the new ‘Morning and Evening Prayer for use on Sundays’ (which went on to pass all stages at General Synod in May 2018 and will be included in the reprint of the Book of Common Prayer.) The session generated much interest among the wider church community and culminated in a service of worship using the musical resources introduced by Peter Stobart. Holy Week and Easter with the various available resources was presented by the Revd Jack Kinkead in February. Many musical items that might have been overlooked were introduced and enjoyed by those present. Both sessions offered an opportunity to reflect on why and how we worship and the usual social interaction over coffee was enjoyed, particularly by musicians who might not otherwise have the opportunity to discuss their work. A further session on good hymn playing is planned for Saturday 29 September in Monkstown Parish Church, with Peter Barley, Director of Music at St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.
The deputy organist list will continue to be printed in the diocesan directory. A regularly up-dated list is on the Church Music Dublin website (https:www.churchmusicdublin.org/deputy-organists/). One of the key tasks in recent months was to ensure that all organ tutors and deputy organists were Garda Vetted in line with Safeguarding Trust. This led to some movement on the deputy list and its omission from the 2018 Directory.
The Executive Committee has been considering various matters in connection with the employment of church musicians. Current employment law and Revenue guidelines indicate that, in view of the nature of the work, an appointed musician is an ‘employee’ and should be placed on the parish payroll. There seems to be a clear trend within the dioceses in this direction. The absence of a contractual retirement age for organists can sometimes give rise to difficulties that need to be dealt with sensitively and pastorally. We continue to be concerned that some positions in parish churches have been filled without being publicly advertised. Failure to advertise limits both the employment opportunities available to newly trained church musicians and also the ability of in-post organists to move between churches. We urge parishes to advertise musician vacancies publicly as in the case of other parish staff. Church Music Dublin is always pleased to provide confidential advice on matters such as these and we provide free advertising of vacancies on our website.
The library of training videos continues to grow. In June 2018 we collaborated with Pipeworks to produce a video on registration on a parish organ. A further video, by Church Music Dublin, featuring registration on a large organ was also filmed. The presenter in both is Simon Harden. Both will appear, alongside previous sets, at the following link: https://www.churchmusicdublin.org/category/videos/
Our presence on the internet continues to be a source of guidance and assistance to the church world-wide and we were delighted to be approached, late in 2017, by a church choir director from Sydney, Australia, who had viewed the choir training videos and found them to be excellent. Our colleague wished to make the videos more easily accessible to his choir members. We were delighted to assist him and continue to exchange greetings from time to time.
The Diocesan Church Music Committee’s mission is to support and resource church music in parish churches. The committee does this by raising awareness about the value of music in worship, by running training courses, by providing information and by developing a sense of community amongst church musicians.
Contact and communication are priorities for the committee, which maintains a comprehensive database of people involved in church music within 100 km of Dublin. The magazine Soundboard has received favourable comment and is published three times a year. The list of deputy organists is now printed in the Diocesan Directory. As the existence of the Committee becomes more widely known, it receives a growing number of general enquiries.
Recent research has revealed a significant need for help in establishing new junior choirs and children’s groups involved in leading the liturgical and musical aspects of worship. With the help of a grant from the Priorities Fund, the committee will establish a scheme during 2003-04 on an initial pilot basis for the encouragement of such groups through parish and school contacts. The project will produce resources and distribute them to the participating groups and will have skilled personnel available to give start-up help in local situations.
The flagship of the Committee’s programme is the three-year church music course, leading to the Archbishop of Dublin’s Certificate in Church Music. While this course is vital to the supply of musicians for our churches, the Committee believes that the continued availability of organists for church positions is dependent on many factors. For instance, parishes need to be shown how to make organist posts as attractive as possible. It has become clear that the church that goes out of its way to demonstrate that it has a well-maintained pipe organ, that it provides opportunity and capacity for developing the musical aspect of worship, and regards its musician as a key part of the worship planning team, is more likely to receive enquiries than the parish that relies on a simple bland advertisement. This is an area that the Committee intends to examine during the coming months.