‘Silent Worship?’

Silent Worship? – a 1990 report

[Note: This report was published in 1990 by the Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland which was established in 1977 and ceased functioning in 1998]



with some recommendations for the future

The Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland (JCCMI) comprises representatives of the Church of Ireland Choral Union and the Irish Committee of the Royal School of Church Music.

The object of the JCCMI is to promote the study, practice, and improvement of church music.

Members of the Joint Committee are drawn from all parts of Ireland. The Co-Chairmen are The Very Reverend Sterling Mortimer, Dean of Elphin (Chairman of the Irish Committee of the Royal School of Church Music) and The Reverend Canon Robin Bantry White, Rector of Douglas Union with Frankfield, Cork (Chairman of the Church of Ireland Choral Union).

Published by the

Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland,

Religious Education Resource Centre,

Mount Argus Road,

Dublin 6W.

ISBN 0 905886 06 2

© Copyright: Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland, 1990

A PDF version of this report is available here:



The Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland gratefully acknowledge financial assistance towards the expenses of producing this report received from the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough.


This report was written by the Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland originally in response to an enquiry, received in June 1988 from the Diocesan Councils of Dublin and Glendalough, about the shortage of church organists. It has subsequently been revised and expanded so as to be of more general application throughout the Church of Ireland. The Joint Committee is grateful to all those who assisted in the preparation of this report by providing information or by making suggestions.

Throughout this report the terms Organist and Choir Director have been used interchangeably to refer to the person in charge of the music in a church; the choice of word used being whichever is the more appropriate in the context.

The JCCMI does not advocate music of any particular style. In this report, however, emphasis has been placed on the development of church choirs since this is seen as a key to the encouragement of young people to take up the organ.

The shortage of organists is a very serious problem; a problem which is not confined to the Church of Ireland nor, indeed, to this country, and one which has been a cause of concern to our Joint Committee since its inception. The Joint Committee believes that the music of the Church is the responsibility of the Church as a whole and not only of the musicians. The conditions and resources available in parishes and dioceses vary so considerably, it is not the intention that the recommendations contained in this report should be regarded as being inflexible or of universal application. Neither is it the intention to presume to give advice to those responsible for major cathedrals or other churches which have a professional music staff. The object of the report is to suggest some approaches to alleviating the problem and to stimulate discussion.

The decline in the number of church organists is consistent with the fall in church attendance generally, the lack of interest in worship, and the shortage of vocations to the sacred ministry, which has affected all the main branches of the Church over the past thirty years or so. The reasons for this decline are, of course, outside the scope of this report.

The problem we now face has been developing over a considerable period and there are no easy or short term solutions. Before considering any solutions it would be as well to place the subject in context and to identify some of its causes.


With the exception of a number of notable individuals, the Church of Ireland generally has been indifferent towards music. Unlike some other branches of the Church, the Church of Ireland has never laid down norms regulating the relationship between music and the liturgy; nor has it determined the qualifications, conditions of employment, or salaries for organists.

There is no reference to music in the Constitution of the Church of Ireland, and neither the function of organists nor their standing in relation to the Church as a whole is defined. The report of the Priorities Committee, First of All (1979), makes no reference to music: nevertheless we wish to place it on record that but for the financial support received from the Priorities Committee since 1981, the work of the JCCMI could not have continued. The report of the Commission on Communication, Time to Tell (1983), made a number of important recommendations about church music, which the JCCMI fully endorses, but it made no suggestions about how these recommendations might be implemented.

Within the Church of England, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 1922 and again in 1947 set up commissions to report on the state of church music; recently they have established another similar commission; and the General Synod of the Church of England has recently passed legislation giving church organists more security of employment.

Church music is, essentially, vocal music, not organ music. It follows, therefore, that the Church is in much greater need of singers than of organists; but, above all, the Church needs people who can encourage, persuade and teach people to sing. Playing the organ is only part of a church organist’s responsibilities: training the choir and/or encouraging congregational singing is much more important. Indeed, the job-title “Organist” is really a misnomer for the person in charge of the music in a church. A church organist should have a general knowledge of liturgy, hymnology, and the history and repertoire of church music, as well as having the ability to direct a choir and accompany services. It is not essential to be a brilliant player of solo organ music. It is, however, essential to be a competent player with basic musical skills, otherwise such elements as rhythm and a “sense” for tempo and pulse may not be adequate. In many cases a relatively small part of the organist’s time is spent taking choir rehearsals or accompanying services. Much time is spent finding suitable music to sing, recruiting singers, general administration, compiling service music lists, preparation, and study. ‘A good organist will keep him/herself aware of newly published music and contemporary trends and ideas in church music through publications such as the Organists’ Review, The Musical Times, the Royal School of Church Music magazine Church Music Quarterly, and, of course, the JCCMI Newsletter.

Church music means singing the liturgy, regularly every Sunday. The function of church music is to emphasise and intensify significant parts of the liturgy (for example, Gloria In Excelsis, Sanctus, Te Deum, Benedictus, and Magnificat). Hymns and Psalms are our response to hearing and receiving the word of God in the liturgy. Music heightens and enhances the words of the liturgy. It brings a further dimension to the words, adding grace and conveying feelings. Church music is an integral part of the activity of prayer: it is not a form of entertainment inserted into the service to amuse the congregation. It is an offering; a sacrifice; the completion of love; and it involves duty towards God and duty towards our neighbour. It follows that church music requires commitment, effort, and discipline; and that it should be properly prepared.

The choice of music is a moral rather than a musical issue, as R. Vaughan Williams asserted in the preface to The English Hymnal (1906). Music exerts a strong influence on the subconscious mind. Good music conveys positive, optimistic feelings and reflects Christian values. Integrity, craft, reason, and cheerfulness are essential qualities both in the music itself and in the way it is performed. These qualities are not the prerogative of any particular style. However, no amount of tarting up of poor material with seductive harmonies or rhythms will disguise triviality or shallowness. The argument that trivial music promotes the preaching of the Gospel does not stand up to examination. Second rate music inhibits the growth of the Christian community and no argument attempting to justify its use can be admitted. The Revd Professor Erik Routley pointed out in Church Music and the Christian Faith (Collins, 1980) that the deliberate use by the Church of trivial, sentimental, or pretentious music is the result, ultimately, of failure of nerve and argues insecurity, competitiveness, and a lust for quick results. “Walk on the water in that spirit and you’ll sink.”

The music chosen should be suitable to its liturgical context. There may be as much inherent beauty, truth, and goodness in simple music as there is in music which is elaborate or sophisticated. Over elaborate or over dignified music in the wrong context sounds incongruous and destroys the balance between the liturgy and the music. The best music employs the simplest possible means to achieve its objective.

Music in Worship, the report issued by the Committee appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 1922 and revised in 1947 (see paragraph 2.3) includes the following statement: “One of the reasons why congregations tolerate, or even approve, bad music, is that they do not think that the music, as such, has any definite meaning or any real importance; therefore any noise will do in church, so long as it is made upon a respectable and religious instrument like an organ, or sung out of a hymn-book. People who talk of church music for the most part do not think really at all of the music as a thing possessing its own rights and having its own methods. This point must first be made clear to them”.


Outside the major cathedrals and some larger provincial churches there is little tradition of church music within the Church of Ireland. In country churches and smaller city and town churches there was probably no music at all until the second half of the nineteenth century. The Eucharist was generally celebrated after Morning Prayer and Litany, and was probably completely without music.

In the eighteenth century, Dublin city churches such as St Michan’s, St Mary’s, and St Werburgh’s had organs and may have had choirs. The organ would have been used to accompany metrical psalms sung either congregationally or by the choir alone, and for voluntaries. It was common for a voluntary to be played between the Psalms and the First Lesson at Morning and Evening Prayer. The Psalms of David in metre collected out of the principal versions now in use was published by A. Bradley (Dublin, 1740).A collection of Select Psalms for the use of the parish church of New St Michan’s was published in Dublin in 1752. A number of similar books were also in use. David Weyman’s Melodia Sacra: or the Psalms of David…with hymns, anthems and choruses (2 vols) was popular in the first half of the nineteenth century. It was first published in 1814 and ran into several editions until 1864.

In the second half of the eighteenth century an organ was built by John Snetzler for Hillsborough Parish Church. The organist was Michael Thompson who was brought from London by the first Marquis of Downshire, and in 1772 a stipendiary choir of men and boys was established and placed in the west end gallery, wearing surplices. Six Anthems performed in Hillsborough Church for four part choir with organ accompaniment was published by Michael Thompson in 1786.

In St John’s Church, Limerick, around 1830 a small choir of boys and men was instituted, arranged college-wise in the chancel and wearing surplices. A sung Eucharist was celebrated regularly.

The majority of city and town churches acquired organs only in the mid nineteenth century, and most smaller rural churches did not have organs until the 1880s or 1890s.

Hymn singing was, in theory, banned until 1841, though metrical Psalms could be, and presumably were, sung at the beginning and end of services and before and after sermons. The liturgical Prayer Book Psalms were known as “prose psalms” or “reading psalms” and it would appear that in parish churches they were usually recited rather than sung. When the hymnal Hymns for Public Worship was introduced in 1856, it had to be approved separately for use in each Diocese by the Bishop, not all of whom did so; but in 1864 the first Church Hymnal for the general use of the Church of Ireland was approved.

In 1864 the Association for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge also published Chants Ancient & Modern, Responses etc. as a companion to the Church Hymnal. Included in this chant book were plainchant (Gregorian) tones as well as anglican chants, together with settings of the Preces and Responses, and Responses to the Commandments and Doxologies for use at the Eucharist. The plainchant tones were dropped from the third edition (1906), when they were replaced by corrupt, stylised versions of the tones.

Interest in church music increased in the second half of the nineteenth century. In city churches and larger provincial churches especially, choirs became more regularised. Robed choirs, either of men and boys or mixed, became common. Singing the Psalms and Canticles to anglican chants became the norm, and there was a rise in interest in hymn singing among congregations. In some churches canticle settings and anthems were sung, and so were the Responses to the Commandments, the Gospel Acclamations, Sanctus, and Gloria In Excelsis at the Eucharist.

The Choral Festival movement began in the middle of the nineteenth century and grew in popularity. Towards the end of the century the Kildare Diocesan Choral Festival held in St Brigid’s Cathedral was a great social event.

In the early part of the twentieth century church choirs in country parishes aspired to singing the Psalms and Canticles. In Magheradroll (Ballynahinch) parish the Rector would only allow the Psalms and Canticles to be sung if the whole service were sung, including the Preces and Responses. This was accepted as the norm for all Sunday services. They also sang the Credo and Gloria from Merbecke at the Eucharist. This tradition has continued until the present.


In Dublin during the 1950s and 1960s there was a sharp decline in church music, with population movements away from the city centre resulting in the closure of some inner city churches during the early 1960s. The population which moved frca the city centre to the outer suburbs and newly developed areas on the outskirts of the city created a dramatic growth in the congregations of what were originally rural churches, the musical tradition of which was less well developed. Despite the increased numbers, the music in most of these churches has remained rather basic and consequently a substantial element of the tradition which formerly existed has been lost. Congregations who have no deep interest in, or experience of liturgical music are probably quite happy with this state of affairs. Even in those city and inner suburban churches which remain, the musical tradition has declined, either through lack of resources, or because of the preference of the clergy and congregations.

This erosion of the tradition of church music has curtailed the environment in which young people have the opportunity to develop an interest in church music. In the past, former choristers in the choirs of the two cathedrals and in parish churches such as St Stephen’s, St Ann’s, St Peter’s, St Bartholomew’s, and All Saints’ Grangegorman provided a constant supply of potential church organists. Any chorister who showed an interest in the organ was encouraged and given lessons by the cathedral or parish organist. The cathedral organists were, of course, professional organists and qualified teachers, but so were some of the parish organists. Furthermore, the experience of regularly singing in the choir resulted in these young organ students absorbing the art of accompanying singers – either a choir alone or a full congregation; they instinctively knew how and when to allow the singers to breathe. By the same process, through the choir director’s example, they learned how to train a choir. As they gained experience they were given the opportunity to accompany parts of the service under the organist’s guidance, and in due course were able to deputise for the organist in his absence. At one time many of the organists of Dublin churches had been introduced to the organ in this way. Not all of than were brilliant players but most fulfilled their duties as church organists/choir directors faithfully and competently.

Choristers who were not interested in the organ often later became tenors or basses in church choirs.

Even in the case of churches with no formal choral establishment, certain individual clergy gave encouragement and assistance to young people interested in taking up the organ.

Up to the and of the 1950s church organists’ posts were highly competed for in Dublin and it was often quite difficult for a young organist to obtain his/her first post and thus gain experience. Even up to the mid-1960s it was normal to expect up to ten applications for the more attractive posts, but from that time onwards numbers of applicants for vacant posts declined, unfortunately; so long as churches received at least one suitable application they accepted the situation and took no further action. To a great extent, we are now reaping the reward for this complacency.

A trend similar to the Dublin experience may be observed in many other cities and towns throughout the country.


Over the past fifteen years or so there has been a significant increase in the number of people studying the organ, and the standard of performance among these students is higher than ever before. There has also been a marked improvement in the quality of the music studied and performed by organ students. During the first half of this century organists generally did not study very much real organ music. Much attention was given to learning to play arrangements of orchestral or vocal music and to learning how to accompany church service music. Since the mid 1950s this has changed. Attention is now focused on the study of genuine organ music and on the cultivation of an authentic style and interpretation in performance. The ambition of many serious organ students now is to become concert organists and/or academics rather than church organists. Even those who do not make the grade as concert organists prefer to concentrate on the enjoyment of playing real organ music to as high a standard as they are able to attain. Little time is devoted to church service accompaniment by the majority of teachers or students, and few organ students are interested in accepting appointments as church organists.


The Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland is very concerned that so many professional organists no longer occupy positions as Church Organists. We believe that the following are some of the main reasons why organists are reluctant to accept church appointments:

A lessening of interest in the Church, in worship, and in church music

The requirement to be available every weekend - in many cases twice on Sundays - and usually for at least one rehearsal during the week. People’s lifestyles have changed considerably over the past twenty years or so. With increased mobility, especially at weekends, families like to visit friends and relations, pursue hobbies or sports, or go away for weekend breaks. A church organist whose duties involve two Sunday services and one or more weekly rehearsals can work for 12 or more hours a week including time taken in preparation, practice, and administration. In most cases this will be on top of doing a full normal week's work at some other job. There is no doubt but that being a church organist impinges significantly on one's family life. The Church rightly emphasises the importance of the family but frequently overlooks the pressures placed on organists/music directors and their families.

Lack of job satisfaction. There is a feeling that, fundamentally, most congregations - and many of the clergy - do not really want to have properly regulated church music in their parish. They may well be attracted to the IDEA of church music, and may believe that their parish has a tradition of church music (which it may have had once), but they are not prepared to face up to the commitment involved in maintaining and developing such a tradition. This may result in the organist having little scope to perform more than a very limited repertoire of church music; indeed he/she may be actively discouraged from extending the range of music beyond hymns and anglican chants. In addition, it is becoming more difficult to recruit singers for church choirs. Increasing outside pressures and reducing commitment on the part of singers lead to irregular attendance at rehearsals and services. Good singers will not be attracted to join a choir where the music is confined to hymns and chants. Although Psalms sung to anglican chant can be very inspiring, and very satisfying for singers and accompanists. Morning Prayer at which the Psalm and ALL the Canticles are sung to anglican chant week after week can become very tedious. These factors make this aspect of the organist's job less satisfying. Contrariwise, we are aware of cases where the group of people designated (or designating themselves) as the choir refuse to attend rehearsals. Obviously no conscientious church organist will be prepared to tolerate a situation such as this. (The difficulty in recruiting singers is but another symptom of the same disease.) Singers who are keen members of secular choirs are often reluctant to join church choirs because so many churches exercise little discrimination in relation to music. To a certain extent there is a circular argument here: good singers are more likely to be attracted to join a church choir where a committed and experienced director is in charge of the music; and good church organists are more likely to be attracted to a church where there is a good choir, a good musical tradition, and where the performance of proper liturgical choral music is permitted.

A common reason for organists resigning is silly arguments with choir members or members of the clergy, often involving matters which should be capable of being resolved through reasonable discussion.

Another disincentive is pressure (sometimes from members of the clergy) to perform music of poor quality - including neo-Sankey style hymns and songs of a trivial or superficial nature. Often musicians who take their job seriously are embarrased at being asked to play music to which they can bring no serious attitude; they are not prepared to play poor music, no matter how popular with clergy or congregations.

Some organists may dislike the liturgical forms or pattern of services used in particular churches

In the Church of Ireland there is little tradition of the liturgical use of organ music, such as exists on the Continent. When organ music is played for an opening or closing voluntary it is not regarded as part of the service and the congregation seldom listens. Even though the organist may have spent many hours of practice, the music is treated as a cover for people arriving at, or leaving the church, or talking. Good players can find this state of affairs frustrating. In the Lutheran Church in Germany and Scandinavia, organ music is played at the beginning and end, and sometimes at other parts of the service, and is listened to attentively by the congregation. This music is normally based on the liturgical theme for the day; the opening prelude does not begin until the pastor has entered the church, and similarly the pastor and the congregation remain in the church for the closing postlude. Also in Roman Catholic churches in France much use is made of liturgical music.

In some cases good organists may not be interested in choirs or may not have sufficient skill to deal with them

Poor organs or organs in bad condition. The majority of the organs in our churches were built in the period between 1875 and 1950, a period of poor design in organ building. Underdeveloped tonal design is most noticible in the case of smaller organs, on many of which it is impossible to play in an authentic way the repertoire of legitimate organ music. In some cases organs have not been maintained in a proper state of repair, while in other cases money has been wasted on needless alterations or on work which has not been carried out to a high standard. To a certain extent there is a conflict of interests here: there is no point in a church having an organ on which it is possible to play, say, the major works of J. S. Bach or the French classical repertoire if the organist is not able to play them or if the congregation does not want to listen to them; on the other hand, a good organist is more likely to be attracted to a church in which the organ is reasonably well developed. Furthermore, the accompaniment of service music is likely to be more inspiring, and the singing better, if a well-designed organ is available. It need hardly be added that size is no indication of good design or good craftsmanship in organ building.

Salaries for church organists have not kept pace with salaries in employment generally. After income tax and social insurance contributions are deducted, and travelling and other expenses are met, in many cases very little is left over. Provision is not always made for paid leave on account of holidays or sickness. The better standard of living which many people enjoy nowadays makes them less dependent on a salary from an appointment as a church organist, while at the same time they are more likely to be in a position to afford more frequent weekend breaks. However, few church organists do the job solely for financial reward and many do it on a voluntary basis.

In an interview in The Musical Times (October 1988), Simon Preston, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey from 1981 to 1987, referring to the lack of opportunity for young organ graduates to put their training to practical use within the profession, said "It's a bad state of affairs. We all know who the young and brilliant players are, but how are they going to be able to use their skills to earn a living? The church sits and wrings its hands, complaining at the shortage of organists, whereas the truth is there is a shortage of opportunities for organists to earn a decent living. We have a situation where highly skilled musicians are using their talents elsewhere - and these are the sort of people the church should be using. The church has decided simply that it's not prepared to go along the road of professional music making, preferring instead to rely on willing amateurs who will do the job for nothing. No wonder there's a "shortage"! It's high time the church got its act together and gave its organists a chance to earn a decent living wage, as happens in other parts of the world -the USA for example." It may be felt that because of the difference between Ireland and Great Britain, this statement has little relevance to us, but really the difference is only one of scale.


It will be clear from the foregoing that urgent action is needed, and that such action will need the full co-operation of clergy, musicians, and select vestries, under the leadership of Diocesan Councils. It is necessary to provide adequate resources and to create in the Church a climate in which church musicians can work effectively.

The Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland recommends:

To attract organists of ability, church music must be placed high in the list of priorities of rectors, select vestries, and congregations. Even where a rector has little knowledge of, or interest in, church music, he should understand the function of music within the liturgy, give positive support to the organist and choir, and promote the development of church music appropriate to the needs of the parish. Through the influence of the rector this support should also be given by the whole congregation.

Clergy and organists should respect each other's vocation, specialised knowledge, and experience and try to understand each other's problems. There is a need for organists to be given more pastoral support. More regular communication between clergy and organists would help to develop the partnership which their relationship should be. Clergy (and congregations) often do not understand the motivations or ambitions of organists - their reasons for doing the job.

Public worship, including music, is the legal responsibility of the incumbent. Nevertheless, consultation and co-operation between clergy and organists is essential. Where a clearly defined music policy exists, clergy should exercise caution before making any drastic change. It takes many years to build up a tradition, but it can be destroyed overnight.

Full consultation should take place between rectors and organists in the selection of service music.

Organists should have properly drawn up contracts clearly setting out the responsibilities of the post, the salary, the conditions of employment, and the terms under which the contract is terminable. The JCCMI has drawn up a draft form of agreement which parishes can adapt to their own requirements.

Salaries should be adequate and should take account of the duties of the post (including time spent in preparation and practice), qualifications and experience of the organist. Salaries should be subject to regular review. An appropriate regulator would be the Index of Average Earnings; alternatively organists' salaries could be increased in line with increases in salaries in payment to the clergy.

Where there is a Sunday evening service, some form of job sharing arrangement might be made to relieve the organist of the necessity of attending two services every Sunday. For example, the evening service could be played by an organ scholar, a student, or by an organist who is unavailable for the full duties of an organist's post but who could undertake limited duties. Of course, the relief organist should also be properly recompensed. However, this kind of arrangement is not recommended for churches where the full choir is expected to attend the evening service, as there is a danger that the organist's absence may encourage absenteeism among the choir members or may create an impression that the evening service is of less importance.

The provision of realistic salaries and conditions of employment will place churches in a better position to insist that organists should have adequate skills and attainments. In the short term, while the present shortage of organists continues, this may not be possible but it should be the long-term objective. When filling vacancies, clergy and select vestries should satisfy themselves as to what qualifications, skills, attainments, and experience to look for in a church organist. (For example, in the past, applicants for organists' posts have been questioned closely about whether they could play certain difficult organ pieces, but were not asked whether they could accompany a hymn in a way that would inspire a congregation to sing.)

The Archbishops' Certificate in Church Music is recommended as being a particularly useful qualification for church musicians, including those who are not graduates in music. (The Archbishops referred to are those of Canterbury and Westminster, and the examination is conducted by The Guild of Church Musicians.) The examination covers organ playing or singing, choir-training, liturgy and Christian worship, and the history of church music. The requirements of the examination are comprehensive but they should be within the reach of most church musicians. The Church should encourage young organists, especially, to attain this qualification.

All church musicians should be encouraged to attend in-service training courses such as those provided by the Royal School of Church Music and the Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland. Select Vestries should make funds available to assist musicians with fees and travelling expenses. The RSCM runs courses throughout the year for organists, choir-directors, and choir-members, covering a wide range of subjects to meet varying needs, pitched at different levels of ability and experience.

Organs should be kept in tune and in proper repair. Regular maintenance will minimise major expenditure in the future. Funds should be set aside annually for this purpose and the work should be entrusted only to qualified organ builders. Independent expert advice should be obtained before major work on an organ is undertaken.


Implementation of the foregoing recommendations will improve the conditions in which church musicians work, and will help them to work effectively: however, the implementation of the recommendations will not, in itself, help to solve the problem of the shortage in the supply of church organists.

As has already been stated in paragraph 2.4, the Church has a much greater need of choir-directors than of organists. The primary job of the choir director is to get people to sing. In order to get people to sing, one must be prepared to sing oneself. The church choir director is essentially a leader. To be effective, the leadership in any organisation must emerge from the grass roots. In addition to leadership qualities, a church musician needs to be an effective communicator, have a good knowledge of the repertoire of church music, and understand the function of music within the liturgy. To create the conditions in which such a leadership can develop, it is necessary to interest more people - and especially more young people - in church music. The most effective way of doing this is through church choirs.

The Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland therefore recommends:

The Church as a whole should make every effort to promote the development of church choirs. This means that in every parish the Rector should, with the co-operation of the organist, take all possible steps to build up the choir. This will include the development of a suitable programme of choral music within the liturgy.

Parishes could consider the establishment of choral scholarship schemes, whereby a small scholarship would be offered to a number of students in return for their becoming members of the choir. Their standard of singing, sight-reading, and musicianship would, of course, have to be adequate, as would their attendance at rehearsals and services. It is also important that there should be no difference in the responsibilities and conditions of membership between choral scholars and voluntary members of the choir.

Rectors should ensure that on the evening fixed for choir rehearsals, no other parish activities are held which might prevent choir members attending the rehearsal.

A number of parishes have, in addition to the main parish choir, a junior choir. This is something to be encouraged in all parishes. However, in quite a number of cases the junior choir is treated as a quite separate entity to the main choir. This means the junior choir have different rehearsal times, sing different music, and sing at different services (usually only at children's or family services, or on special occasions). The result is that the junior choir does not have the same opportunity of singing the mainstream repertoire of church music as is sung by the main parish choir; they do not really get a true impression of what singing in a church choir is like, or of the routine of singing the services week by week.

Parishes should so arrange matters that instead of having a separate junior choir, there should be a junior section within the main parish choir. This would give boys and girls the opportunity of participating fully in the parish's music programme as equals with adults; it would give them an opportunity to develop an interest in, and love of, the music of the Church. The enthusiasm of the younger members encourages the adults, and the adults, in turn, provide stability and experience. It is worth while emphasising that singing is one of the few things that children can do as well as - and sometimes better than - adults (nobody else can sing in quite the same way as a boy who has been properly trained).

However, human nature must be taken into account. Boys will not bother to sing if they think that other people (for example, adult women) are going to do the singing for them. Furthermore, girls' voices do not really begin to develop until they are at about the same age as boys are when their voices are changing (in other words, when boys' are at their least effective, girls' voices are beginning to grow in effectiveness). Thirdly, although children learn quicker than adults, they tend to have less experience and a less well developed repertoire; they therefore need more frequent rehearsals. Music is a function of the memory, which must be trained by repetition; and experience confirms that children need a minimum of two rehearsals a week, though rehearsals of the junior section alone should not normally be longer than an hour.

The ideal arrangement is to hold a junior section rehearsal early in the week, with a full rehearsal for the whole choir later in the week. Another method is to hold a 30 minute junior section rehearsal before the adults join. If it is impossible to hold a full rehearsal during the week, separate children's and adult's rehearsal could be held during the week, with a short full rehearsal before the Sunday services. Teenage girls should be transferred to the adult section immediately it becomes obvious they can no longer be regarded as juniors. When boys' voices are changing and they can no longer sing the treble part without strain, they should be transferred to the adult section. Within the junior section boys and girls can rehearse together but should have separate but parallel disciplinary structures and chains of command (e.g., there should be a head boy in charge only of boys, and a head girl in charge only of girls). These days there is little support for the old idea that boys should rest their voices while they are changing. It is now generally considered that provided the voice is not forced or strained there is no harm in continuing to sing gently - see Duncan McKenzie: The Boy's Changing Voice (Faber, 1958). There is also the practical point that once a boy leaves the choir, it is more difficult to get him back! Ideally, boys whose voices are changing should have a short rehearsal on their own to help them become accustomed to their new voice and their new role, in the choir; they will also, of course, transfer to the adult section and rehearse with them.

It is most important that children in the junior section should be taught to read music and should be taught singing. It is not enough merely to teach them the music by rote. The repertoire of the choir should be repeated with sufficient frequency that items are not forgotten.

Teenagers studying for examinations should be treated with consideration in relation to attendance at rehearsals, consistent with avoiding undermining the discipline of the choir as a whole.

There is no doubt but that church choirs are an effective vehicle of evangelism among young people of junior choir age. Building up a well organised junior section will not only help to interest young people in church music and help to alleviate the shortage of church organists: it will also help to interest young people in worship and in all other aspects of the Christian life. During rehearsals the organist should ensure that the young singers understand the texts being sung and understand why they are being sung.

The aim should be to develop a club atmosphere in the choir through activities other than singing. If circumstances permit (or can be made to permit), games such as table tennis can be made available before rehearsals; a choir football team could be organised (five a side if the choir is small); outings can be arranged from time to time. None of these activities should be taken too seriously: the aim is to unite the choir into a cohesive body. Some choirs go on short choir holidays or tours together, perhaps just for a week-end, and sing in the local church, perhaps joining with their choir.

It is important to involve the parents of choristers in these activities and to gain their support. A choir parents' group, or choir support group, can be of great help in running a well organised church choir.

The Royal School of Church Music's Chorister Training Scheme is strongly recommended as providing a structured training programme for junior choristers, covering all aspects of a chorister's training including learning to read music, voice training, repertoire development, and Christian teaching. The Scheme also provides a disciplinary structure and chain of command which helps choristers to identify with the choir and to understand their role both within the choir and in the overall context of the liturgy. The Scheme is flexible and can easily be adapted to meet the needs of any particular choir or church.

It is very important that junior choristers should receive pastoral support. There is scope in the Chorister Training Scheme programme to facilitate clergy in guiding the spiritual development of young singers.

Recruiting singers, both adults and children, is a major part of a choir-director's activities. Choir directors should be given all possible help in this task. Rectors should look out for potential choir members when visiting in the parish. Parish schools, and other schools in the parish will be a source of recruits for the junior section and rectors, music directors, and teachers should co-operate closely to encourage children to join the choir.

Implementation of the recommendations in this section would, of course, greatly add to the duties of the choir-director: they would also add to his/her sense of job satisfaction. Furthermore, unless the present cycle of decline is broken, there will be no church choir directors in the future who will have had the proper background and training to do the job effectively.

It is not intended to suggest that any alteration should be made to the structure of well regulated established choirs in churches where there is a strong musical tradition.

It may be considered by some that these recommendations are all very well for large suburban parishes and parishes in larger provincial towns but are quite impractical for small or rural parishes. The JCCMI does not accept that this is so. Most parishes have a school, and there can be few parishes which have no children at all. Even a small choir of a half dozen children (with no adults) can make a big difference to the life of a parish and to the music-making at services, and will help to keep music alive in our churches. The biggest difficulty is in finding a music director who knows how to train them. In certain situations the choir director need not also be the organist. For example, in rural parishes where there are no adults in the choir (or if a new junior choir is being formed), the choir director might be a teacher (with rehearsals taking place after school hours) or some other person. The skills retired by the choir director in these circumstances need not be beyond a basic level. In this kind of situation it would be most important clearly to define the responsibilities of both the choir director and the organist. The JCCMI would be happy to provide training for choir directors, or prospective choir directors whose experience is limited, to help them form and develop a junior choir of the kind described. Members of the Joint Committee have had experience of training such choirs and that they can operate successfully.

Even in parishes with very few resources, the presence of one person who can get other people to sing will bring new life to the services and encouragement to the parish.


In addition to interesting young people in church music, it is also essential to interest them in the organ. Just as not every singer recruited into a choir will remain, not every choir member will be interested in the organ. Nevertheless, everything possible should be done to make them aware of the organ as a possibility for them.

The organ has quite a high profile in Dublin though, perhaps, not quite so high in other parts of the country. Organ recitals take place regularly and are generally well attended. Although the overall situation has improved in recent years, the organ is still not always taken seriously by other musicians.

In the past there has been a tendency for some church organists to be rather possessive about the organs in their care, making it difficult for students to get permission to practice. The Joint Committee deplores this attitude. On the other hand some organists have shown a very understanding approach to young people who expressed interest in the organ, allowing them to see the instrument at close quarters and to sit on the organ bench with them during services. Sometimes select vestries refuse permission to use the organ because they are afraid a young or inexperienced player might damage the organ. We wish to make it quite clear that no damage can befall an organ from normal use, no matter how inexperienced the player. However, it is also stressed that only a qualified organ builder should go inside an organ or attempt to make any adjustments to it.

The Joint Committee recommends:

As a part of their overall training, young choristers should be shown the organ and be given an explanation of the function of its various parts (manuals, pedals, stops, swell-box, etc.). They should also be given an opportunity to try the instrument for themselves. In cases where the organ is rather unprepossessing, a visit to a church with a larger or more interesting organ might be arranged. It might even be possible to arrange a choir visit to a cathedral (perhaps for Evensong) when a tour of the cathedral and an inspection of the organ could be included in the programme by prior arrangement.

Occasional choir outings to organ recitals (or, even better, to choral and organ recitals) could be arranged. Care would need to be taken to make sure the programme would be attractive to young people.

Any young chorister who is already studying a musical instrument (especially the piano) should be encouraged to take up the organ. A competent pianist can, with very little instruction, immediately play two-part eighteenth century pieces on the organ.

Parishes should consider setting up schemes by which a grant towards tuition fees would be made available to bona fide organ students studying with a recognised and properly qualified teacher. Organ scholarships could be established to assist more advanced organ students with their fees in return for playing the organ for certain services.

In all secondary schools with music departments, the organ should be made available as one of the courses of study offered, and pupils should be actively encouraged to take up this option. Should there be no organ available in the school, a nearby parish church with a suitable organ could make their instrument available. Clergy with secondary schools in their parish should take all possible steps to promote this policy in co-operation with the principal teacher and music teachers.


The Joint Committee recognises that they are advocating a substantial programme, involving for some parishes a radical change of approach, and that a considerable time may elapse before any positive results are seen. Nevertheless, members of the Committee are convinced that their recommendations represent the only way in which our present difficulties can be resolved. The Joint Committee believes that there are a number of areas in which Diocesan Councils could give positive leadership.

The Joint Committee therefore recommends:

The establishment of Diocesan Organ Scholarship Schemes to provide organ tuition to suitable students. The tuition would be given by a recognised teacher with a background in church music and would include service accompaniment and, possibly, choir training and management. In the Diocese of Armagh a scholarship scheme set up in memory of Archbishop Gregg provides organ tuition for up to nine students for a period of three years each.

The establishment of Diocesan Music Committees, the function of which would be to promote the development of church music throughout the Dioceses. The Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross established such a committee a number of years ago. Diocesan Music Committees would supervise the implementation of the recommendations set out in this report, and would develop other policies from time to time as circumstances required.

The appointment of full time professional Diocesan Music Advisers. The function of Diocesan Music Advisers would be to provide practical advice and help to churches in the Dioceses. Obviously this would have to be on the invitation of the parish. Diocesan Music Advisors would have to be well qualified and experienced musicians with highly developed communications skills and an ability to get on well with people. They would report to the Diocesan Music Committee and would work within the policies and recommendations outlined in this report, and any further policies developed by the Diocesan Music Gamutte.

The establishment of Diocesan Organ Advisory Committees, the function of which would be to advise parishes regarding the restoration, rebuilding, or renovation of organs. It would be mandatory for parishes to refer to the Diocesan Organ Advisory Committee before proceeding with any major work on organs in their care. The object is to ensure that parishes get value for money and to avoid wrong artistic decisions being made. Organ Advisory Committees are recommended in preference to individual organ advisors because we are aware that in the Church of England difficulties have arisen from time to time through controversial decisions made by individual Diocesan Organ Advisors.

The General Synod Boards of Education should be asked to promote music teaching in all schools in their jurisdiction and, in particular, to ensure that adequate organ teaching facilities are available in secondary schools.

Dioceses might consider arranging one day conferences to consider the recommendations put forward in this report. Conferences could be open to clergy, church musicians, and all others interested. Every effort should be made to ensure the maximum possible participation, and the debate should be structured to allow a full and frank exchange of ideas.


At the outset of this report it was stated that the problem of the shortage of church organists is not confined to the Church of Ireland nor, indeed, is it confined to this country. There is also a marked shortage of church organists in Britain and in the United States. The reasons for the difficulty in the United States appear, according to reports, to be substantially the same as those which, in the opinion of the Joint Committee, apply here. In Britain there are certain other factors in addition, specifically the destruction by some parish clergy of established traditional church music and the consequent dismissal of organists.

But the future is not altogether bleak. Organists' training courses promoted by the Joint Committee throughout the country are well attended (often over subscribed), and indicate that there is considerable interest in the organ, and in church music, especially among young people. What is needed is a positive response from the Church, indicating that she really does want to have properly regulated church music in the parishes. However, platitudes will not be enough. It is hoped that this report will stimulate discussion which will lead to positive action being taken by the Church as a whole.


The selection of music and the manner of its performance is outside the scope of this report. The Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland has received so many enquiries and requests for help, however, it is felt that a note on singing the Psalms would be helpful. So many of the Psalms have references to song or instrumental music that clearly a dimension is lost if the Psalms cannot be sung.

Two translations of the Psalms are authorised for use in the Church of Ireland: the text ordered by the General Synod in 1921 to be printed in all subsequent editions of the Book of Common Prayer according to the use of the Church of Ireland; and The Psalms: a New Translation for Worship (Collins, 1976, 1977) usually known as the Liturgical Psalter - the translation in the Alternative Prayer Book. An edition of the Book of Common Prayer Psalter, pointed for singing to anglican chants, is published by the APCK (Third Edition, 1966). In all editions of the Alternative Prayer Book, the text of the Liturgical Psalter has been pointed for singing to anglican chants. The provision of pointing for the congregation is an important step forward for churches wishing to sing the Psalms to anglican chant.


Constrained by tradition and idiom, many churches find singing the Psalms difficult, because anglican chant is the only method of singing the Psalms which they consider. Anglican chant developed in the early eighteenth century, essentially as choir music, although its origins can be traced back to the practice of singers improvising harmonisations of plainchant tones in the early middle ages. By the beginning of the nineteenth century it had become standardised in the form we know it today. The essential feature of anglican chant is harmonised singing. All anglican chants were composed for singing by skilled choirs (and virtually all chants were composed with the Book of Common Prayer translation of the Psalms in mind). Congregational singing of the Psalms did not become common until the middle of the nineteenth century. The first pointed Psalters, which were designed to help congregations to join in the chanting of the Psalms, appeared in the 1830s.


Without the support of a choir, congregational singing of the Psalms to anglican chant may be difficult. There are, however, other systems more suitable for a small congregation. One of the purposes of this Appendix is to draw the attention of this Church to some of these.

If, however, it is not possible to sing the Psalms, it is recommended that they should be recited together by the whole congregation.

It is believed that in the Celtic monastic period the Psalms were chanted to a single note. This may seem rather unenterprising, but it has certain advantages. By singing, rather than reciting, better unanimity is possible and a greater sense of community is built up. A single note is simple to sing and almost all can join in. This simplicity enables the singers to concentrate on the text. Any translation of the Psalms can be used.


It is but a short step from using a single note to using the more simple plainchant melodies. A leader with some basic training would be needed, however. The Psalms can be chanted to plainchant in a number of ways: by a soloist, by everyone together, or antiphonally by two alternating or contrasting groups. Any translation of the Psalms can be used, but the shortage of pointed psalters is a problem. Both the original edition of A Manual of Plainchant ed. Briggs and Frere (Novello, 1902), and the Revised Edition ed. J. H. Arnold (Novello, 1951) set the pre-1921 Book of Common Prayer Psalter to easy plainchant tones in a simple, straightforward way but there is no plainchant Psalter for the 1921 Church of Ireland Book of Common Prayer Psalter nor for the Liturgical Psalter - the translation in the Alternative Prayer Book. It is not difficult to produce "do-it-yourself" pointed plainchant Psalms but problems of copyright arise in relation to the text.


Liturgical reform and the desire for greater congregational participation has led to recent experiments in alternative ways of singing the Psalms. One of the most popular of these is the system of responsorial psalmody, a system which derives from Jewish Temple worship and the practice of the early Christians. In responsorial psalmody a short, easily memorised refrain or antiphon is sung by the congregation between the verses of the Psalm, which are sung by the choir or a soloist.

Pioneering work in responsorial psalmody was done by Joseph Gelineau. Gelineau's work was inspired by, and inspired, the translation of the Psalms in the French version of the Jerusalem Bible. In addition to accuracy of translation, the essential features of this translation are the regular lengths of the lines, and their rhythmic structure - rather similar to sprung rhythm - which is analagous to the rhythm of the original Hebrew verse. It was this rhythmic structure that inspired Gelineau's music. The music itself is derived from Gregorian, Ambrosian and other sources.

The Psalms: A New Translation (The Grail, 1963) follows the same principles as the translation in the Bible de Jerusalem and was undertaken to enable Gelineau's responsorial psalmody to be sung in English.

Gelineau's melodies have been criticised as being rather arid and they are, perhaps, more suitable for singing in French than in English. However, his work encouraged others to take up the challenge.

Dom Gregory Murray's antiphons and psalm tones are very straightforward and easy to sing. The psalm tones resemble simplified anglican chants, sung in unison.

The responsorial Psalms of the Irish composer Fintan O'Carroll are more subtle in style - but nonetheless quite simple. The responses can be easily learned by a congregation. The psalm tones vary from very simple to more ornamented chants for singing by a soloist or leader; this means that the most suitable chant can be selected for each Psalm having regard to the ability of the singers and the needs of the congregation.

Other composers who have composed responsorial Psalm settings include Dom Laurence Bevenot, Lucian Deiss and Colin Mawby.

Almost all of these responsorial Psalms are set to The Grail translation - not at present approved for use in the Church of Ireland.


Finally we consider metrical psalmody. Metrical Psalms have in the past been regarded with disfavour because of the poor quality of much 16th and 17th century metrical psalmody. Even where the verse rises above doggerel, the literary style can no longer be taken seriously in many cases. Another stumbling block is the christianising of the Psalms by some translators who introduced new material into their verses, thus calling into question the authenticity of the translation.

Nevertheless, the use of metrical Psalms may be a valid option in appropriate circumstances. The Irish Church Hymnal contains a selection of metrical Psalms. There are also some fine metrical versions by modern writers. Examples of these are Erik Routley's "God speaks, and all things come to be" (Ps 119) [Hymns & Psalms No 23] and "New songs of celebration render" (Ps 98) [Hymns for Today No 165]; and Brian Foley's "With wonder, Lord, we see your works" (Ps 8) [Hymns for Today No 198].

In appropriate circumstances there may also be a place for metrical translations of the Canticles. A section of Irish Church Praise, the recently published supplement to the Irish Church Hymnal, has been devoted to hymns based on the Canticles and contains metrical versions of Venite, Jubilate, Easter Anthems, Benedictus, Te Deum, Benedicite, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, Gloria in Excelsis, Sanctus, Bless the Lord, and Glory and Honour. Timothy Dudley Smith's "Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord" (Magnificat) and "Faithful vigil ended" (Nunc Dimittis) are well known. James Quinn's "Blest be the God of Israel" is an excellent versification of Benedictus, which sounds very fine when sung to Tallis's Third Mode Melody, one of the tunes to which it was originally set.

Sources of metrical Psalms and Canticles are listed in the Select Bibliography (Appendix II). However, it should be noted that copyright material should not be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.


At present the use of metrical Psalms and Canticles in place of the authorised texts is not approved and this emphasises the need for a more flexible approach to the approval by the Church of various translations of the Psalms and Canticles. It should be noted that for different methods of singing the Psalms different translations may be required. It should not be expected that a single translation will be suitable for every method of singing the Psalms.



(Some of the following are out of print but can be obtained through inter-library loan; or they may sometimes be found in second hand book shops.)

  • Le Huray, Peter: Music and the Reformation in England 1549-1660 (Cambridge University Press, 1978)

  • Phillips, C. H.: The Singing Church (Addington Press, 1980)

  • Routley, Erik: Church Music and the Christian Faith (Collins, 1980)

  • Temperley, Nicolas: The Music of the English Parish Church (Cambridge University Press, 1979; two vols.)

  • Vaughan Williams, R.: Music Preface to The English Hymnal (Oxford University Press, 1906; New Edition, 1933)

  • Walford Davies and Harvey Grace: Music and Worship (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1935)

  • Webb, Trevor: The Well-tempered Choir Director or How to manage your choir (Royal School of Church Music, 1987 - RSCM Handbook No 10)

The following (both out of print) deal in a straightforward, practical way with the training of choir boys. Although the style is somewhat dated, they contain many useful ideas which can also be applied or adapted to suit girls or adult choirs:

  • Moody, Charles H.: The Choir-Boy in the Making (Oxford University Press, 1923)

  • Morgan, Stuart M.: Choirs in Little Churches (The Faith Press, 1933)


  • Deiss, Fr Lucian: More Biblical hymns and Psalms (Collins)

  • Deiss, Fr Lucian: Biblical Hymns and Psalms Vol 2 (World Library Publications Inc.)

  • Gelineau, Joseph: Psalms and Canticles (The Grail)

  • Mawby, Colin: Responsorial Psalms (The Grail)

  • Murray, Dom Gregory: Responsorial Psalms (Mayhew-McCrimmon)

  • Murray, Dom Gregory: Psalms for Singers (Royal School of Church Music)

  • O'Carroll, Fintan: A Responsorial Psalm Book (Irish Church Music Association)


  • Cantate Domino (Oxford University Press, 1980)

  • Church Hymnal (Association for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge/Oxford University Press, 1960)

  • Hymns and Psalms (Methodist Publishing House, London, 1983)

  • Hymns for Today's Church (Hodder & Stoughton, Second Edition 1987)

  • Irish Church Praise (Association for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge/Oxford University Press,1990)

  • The Church Hymnary, Third Edition (Oxford University Press, 1973)

  • New Catholic Hymnal (Faber Music Ltd, 1971)

  • New Hymns for all Seasons - a selection of hymns by James Quinn, S. J. (Geoffrey Chapman, 1969)

  • Psalm Praise (Falcon Books, 1973) is a collection of mainly metrical Psalm and Canticle versions or adaptations, the majority of which are set to original tunes.


  • Bulletin of The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland: Published by the Hymn Society three times a year and issued free to members; back issues of all volumes are available; articles on hymns in both a historical and contemporary context, hymn singing, hymn writers, hymn tune composers, hymn books and related subjects.

  • Church Music Quarterly: Published quarterly by the Royal School of Church Music and issued free to affiliated churches and schools and to Friends; news and articles of general interest to church musicians; concise reviews of church and organ music, books and records.

  • JCCMI Newsletter: Published twice yearly by the Joint Committee for church Music in Ireland and issued free to all supporting the work of the JCCMI; news of church music in Ireland and details of the Joint Committees activities, courses, and other events promoted by JCCMI.

  • Laudate: Published by the Guild of Church Musicians and issued free to members; articles promoting the work of the Guild and of interest to church musicians.

  • Organists' Review: Published quarterly by the incorporated Association of Organists and distributed to members of affiliated organists' societies and direct subscribers; articles on organs, organ music, choir training etc; comprehensive reviews of newly published organ and church music, records and books; excellent editorial content. Very informative and highly regarded. Subscription List Manager: Ronald Bayfield, 25 Rowan Close, Portslade, Brighton BN41 2PT, England.

  • The Musical Times: Published monthly by Orpheus Publications and available through music shops or by direct subscription through Crescent Direct, Unit 3, Primrose Mews, la Sharpleshall Street, London NWl 8Y1; articles on a wide range of musical topics; music, record and book reviews; opera and concert reports; a section is devoted each month to church and organ music.


Addresses and other contact details have been updated to 2006)

The Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland: This is the channel through which the Church of Ireland Choral Union and the Irish Committee of the Royal School of Church Music co-operate in the promotion of church music in Ireland. JCCMI provides information, training and support to clergy, singers, organists, choir directors and other church musicians of all Christian denominations throughout Ireland. The aim is to help people develop their own individual skills. The Joint Committee operates mainly by responding to needs identified locally and by providing support and advice to local organisers in the provision of courses and other events for all involved in church music at every level of competence. The administration and planning of JCCMI's activities is carried out from the Religious Education Resource Centre, Mount Argus Road, Dublin 6W. The Organising Secretary is Mary Nesbitt who is normally available 10.00 a.m. to noon, Monday to Friday; phone (01) 497 2526. (The JCCMI ceased to function in 1990.)

Church of Ireland Choral Union: The main function of the Church of Ireland Choral Union is the promotion and co-ordination of local church choral festivals and the publication of Festival Books containing music and other material for use in choral festivals. Otherwise the Choral Union works in many ways to encourage the improvement of church music through the Joint Committee for Church Music in Ireland. The Choral Union comprises diocesan representatives appointed by the Bishop, representatives of each choral festival, and elected members. The Hon. Secretary is David McConnell, 18 Villiers Road, Dublin 6; phone (01) 497 3745. (The Choral Union ceased to function in 1990.)

Royal School of Church Music: The object of the RSCM is the promotion of the study, practice, and improvement of church music. Churches, schools, etc., can affiliate to the RSCM and become part of a community of church musicians throughout the English-speaking world. Individuals can join as Friends. Membership gives clergy and musicians access to a wide range of services - for example, a mail order service for music, visits to churches by a professional musician who will encourage, advise, and give specialised help. The RSCM publishes church music for choirs of all kinds and levels of competence and runs regular training courses at their headquarters at Salisbury and elsewhere. Headquarters: 19 The Close, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England SP1 2EB. t: +44 1722 424848. enquiries@rscm.com www.rscm.com

RSCM - Ireland: Peter Parshall, RSCM Co-ordinator, The Chapter House, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin 8. t: +353 1 671 2426 pparshall@rscm.org www.rscm.com/ireland

The Guild of Church Musicians: The Guild is a fellowship of all those who sincerely desire to offer the best in music to the service of the church, both amateur and professional musicians being united in a common ideal. The Guild administers and examines for the Archbishops' Certificate in Church Music (being the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster). This certificate is awarded, after examination, to organists/choir directors, singers, cantors, and leaders of worship (instrumentalists). Holders of the Certificate may use the initials ACertCM and wear the authorised hood. Application forms for membership and all other information may be obtained from the Secretary, Guild of Church Musicians, Hillbrow, Godstone Road, Blechingley, Surrey, RHl 4PY, England.

The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland: The Society promotes the study of hymns, both contemporary and historical, (texts and tunes) and encourages and supports hymn writers and composers. Membership includes those interested in hymnology and those who use hymns in worship. Members receive an excellent Bulletin and an annual conference is held. The Hon. Secretary is Robert Canham, Windrush, Braithwaite, KESWICK, Cumbria CA12 5SZ. robcanham.causeypike@gmail.com. http://hymnsocietygbi.org.uk

Royal College of Organists: This is principally an examining and diploma awarding body for organists of professional standard. Full information may be obtained from the Honorary Secretary, Royal College of Organists, Kensington Gore, London SW7, 2QS. During 1991 the College will be moving to St Andrew's Church, Holborn, London.

Incorporated Association of Organists: The IAO is an umbrella organisation for amateur and professional organists to which local organists' societies are affiliated. In the absence of a local organists' society, individuals may join direct. The IAO publishes the Organists' Review and works to promote the organ and organ playing. The annual IAO Organ Week which is held in a different location each year is a forum for lectures, workshops, concerts, recitals, visits to noteworthy organs, etc. The Hon. Secretary is Richard Popple, 24 Hither Green Lane, Abbey Park, Reddich, Worcs. B98 9BW, England.

The Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters: The Society provides a forum for church organists of every denomination and degree of ability. At its monthly meetings activities include lectures, discussions, choral workshops, recitals and visits to churches to hear organs and/or choirs of particular interest. The Society is affiliated to the Incorporated Association of Organists Members are entitled to subscribe to the Organists' Review at a reduced rate and may take part in events organised by the IAO. Full information is available from the Hon Secretary, Simon Neill, Secretary, USOC, c/o St Polycarp's Parish Church, 104, Upper Lisburn Road, BELFAST BT10 0BB. Tel. (+44) 7850 676245.