Living Worship

Living Worship

Early each year, Church Music Dublin runs this popular short course in music, liturgy and worship. It aims to help church musicians understand their role in a wider context than simply playing an instrument or directing a choir.

The course usually takes place on Saturday mornings and has something for everyone – musicians, worship leaders, clergy and others with pastoral responsibility – all who have an interest in the music of worship. Practical music skills are not required to take part.

The sessions are fairly informal and dialogue between the speakers and those attending is encouraged.  Most speakers include some singing as part of their presentations. There is a break for refreshments half-way through the morning – always a splendid opportunity to greet old friends and make new.

The list of previous speakers and topics is available on our Living Worship: History page.

Living Worship 2023

Choir members from across the dioceses gathered at Sandford Parish Church for a Festival Evensong on October 21st. The event started with a rehearsal and there was an opportunity to socialise over tea and coffee before evensong. John Dexter conducted the choir, with David O’Shea accompanying on the organ. John created a relaxed atmosphere and took a light-hearted approach to the rehearsal, starting proceedings with vocal warmups and gentle exercises to get everyone ready to sing.

Several choir directors also joined the racks of the choir. It was a pleasure for us to observe John as he demonstrated his mastery of the art of choir directing. He was clear and precise in what he asked of the choir, while being tolerant of the fact that we had come together as a choir for just one day. John guided us through the music promptly, highlighting pronunciation, timing and points for taking a breath. The music included the anthem O How Amiable by R. Vaughan Williams. John took the time to share a little of the history of the piece and explain how Williams intended it to be sung.

During the break everyone had an opportunity to choose some free gifts and educational material produced by Church Music Dublin. The booklets on vocal warmup were popular with the singers. The organists present were delighted to receive free sheet music. This included sheet music from the collection of the late Raymond Russell, organist at Monkstown and committee member of Church Music Dublin. The collection was donated by his sister Phyllis Whyte. Sheet music donated by Mervyn Cooper of Glenageary parish was also available.

The service of evensong was led by Archbishop Michael Jackson, Revd Canon Sonia Gyles and Rev. Jack Kinkead. The choir of over 50 voices was joined by the congregation which contained many friends and family. The plainsong prayers were led by Rev. Jack Kinkead, with the responses sung by the choir. The lessons were read by Stephanie Maxwell and Kevin O’Sullivan. The evensong offered an opportunity for the choir to perform the pieces they had just rehearsed, including the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by A. Herbert Brewer. The service concluded with the hymn The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended (tune St Clement), after which David O’Shea played the "St Anne" Fugue E Flat Major BWV 552/2 as the final voluntary.

We run events for choir members and church musicians. To be informed of future events, follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our mailing list.

Organize Your Skills 2023

A Hands-On Pipe Organ Workshop with David Adams

On May 6th 2023, aspiring organists from across the dioceses gathered in Monkstown for an organ workshop. The event was organized by Church Music Dublin and led by organ tutor David Adams. David started with an overview of the pipes available on the Monkstown organ. We learned that the diapasons are the ones you see on the outside of organs. Hidden inside are the flutes which are wider and the “strings” which are thinner pipes. David encouraged students to spend time experimenting with the various pipe organ sounds.

Each student took turns to play a pre-prepared piece of their own choosing. We heard pieces by Bach, Samuel Wesley, Nadia Boulanger and Caccini. It was a very supportive group, with each student receiving a round of applause for their playing. David offered advice on registration and articulation to improve their performance. Each student had the opportunity to replay sections of their piece to apply what they learned from David.

Three students played pieces from Bach’s Eight short Preludes and Fugues. David introduced us to the golden rule for playing Bach: add some air to the leaps and smooth out the stepwise notes, or to put it in musical terms: staccato for the arpeggios and legato for the scales. He also demonstrated how to make trills brighter, and encouraged us to vary the timing of repeated chords to make the performance more interesting for the listener.

The coffee break provided an opportunity to chat and peruse the large quantity of sheet music donated by Mervyn Cooper of Glenageary parish. The students greatly appreciated this kind gesture and everyone took a few pieces to try at home.

Throughout the morning David entertained us with anecdotes about each piece of music. The relaxed atmosphere provided plenty of time to discuss the challenges of playing the most complicated of musical instruments. David offered advice on fingering and playing the pedals. When practicing David encouraged us to start slow and be patient. We also learned that Bach played pedals with just his toes, and not his heels. How do we know this? Among other things, all the organ stools at the time were very tall, so he couldn’t reach the notes with his heels.

The workshop was an entertaining, productive and encouraging experience for everyone present. David improved the playing of every student, regardless of their level of experience. Raymond Russell, organist at Monkstown, played a couple of pieces to demonstrate the versatility of the organ. Every student went home with new playing techniques and a goodie bag containing educational material from Church Music Dublin. Visit to learn more and join our mailing list to stay informed of future events for organists and singers.

The above photo features David Adams (organ tutor) with Yuliya (Howth), Anna  (Castlepollard), Carol (Bray), Rosemary (Newtownmountkennedy), Natalie (Killiney), Harry (St Columba’s college}, Lauren (St Columba’s college), Kevin (Kiltiernan).

Living Worship 2022

Singers from across the Dublin and Glendalough dioceses gathered for the Living Worship event at Monkstown parish church on Saturday the 17th of September. The event was hosted by Church Music Dublin, and introduced by Kevin O’Sullivan. Vocal coach Suzanne Chadwick led the event, with Tom Maxwell at the organ.

We started with some full body exercises and stretches as well as vocal warmups. Everyone participated in these gentle exercises in a good natured way that set the tone for the rest of the morning. Suzanne explained how the whole body contributes to singing and even brought an anatomical model of the neck and vocal chords as an illustration.

Suzanne then introduced two hymns which we practised in four part harmony. Come, ye thankful people, come was familiar to everyone, while How shall I sing that majesty was new to some. We spent some time focused on the phrasing and pronunciation of the words, as well as learning the parts. Suzanne also taught us the anthem Day by Day by Martin How. A simple and effective anthem that our choir-for-a-day were able to learn in the short time available. It would be suitable for any parish church as it can easily be adapted to account for the available singers. We also learned a threefold amen by Rev. E. H. Whelan from the Irish Chant Book.

The coffee break provided a good opportunity to socialise. It was also a chance to review the educational material provided by Church Music Dublin and everyone went home with a free gift or two.

After coffee we revisited the anthem, with Suzanne highlighting some areas that needed a little extra attention. The day concluded with a short act of worship led by Kevin. This provided an opportunity to use the hymns, anthem and amen in context. The reading from Luke chapter 8, the parable of the sower, reminded us to take what we had learned to heart and apply it.

The logistics for the day, including coffee, were provided by Jacqueline Mullen, honorary secretary of Church Music Dublin.

Living Worship 2021

As restrictions did not permitted us to hold the annual Living Worship in person we arranged a webinar for ACCM students and other interested parties at which David O’Shea discussed suitable organ registration of repertoire and liturgical items. This was well received, and we immediately made videos to cover the topic more comprehensively. Recording took place in March and the videos were made available over the summer of 2021.

Living Worship 2020

Living Worship 2020 was on Saturday 25th January from 10.00am to 12.30pm.  John Dexter, conductor of the Goethe Choir, organist at Whitechurch parish church and former Organist and Master of the Choristers at St Patrick’s Cathedral, led a workshop on music for Holy Communion for small parish choirs.  This session involved lots of singing and everyone was made to feel welcome.

This workshop was of particular interest to those who direct and sing in small parish choirs, many of which may not have all voice parts.

The session explored how simple music can emphasise and bring significance to the liturgy and be satisfying for those who lead the singing. Most of the music used was from Church Hymnal and Thanks & Praise.  Participants brought back to their parish churches an enhanced understanding of the choral possibilities for the Eucharist in the Church of Ireland.

While this workshop was primarily for singers, choir directors, organists and clergy, members of congregations were also very welcome. 

Venue: Sandford Parish Church, Ranelagh, D06 A9P8.

Living Worship 2019

Accessible Anthems for Holy Communion

Saturday 2 February 2019

The first session of Living Worship 2019 took place on Saturday 2 February at St Bartholomew’s Church, Clyde Road. Tristan Russcher, Director of Music at St Bart’s, led a workshop on Accessible Anthems for Holy Communion.

St Bartholomew’s Church, Clyde Road

Anglican Chant Workshop

Saturday 23 March 2019

The second session of Living Worship 2019 took place on Saturday 23 March in Christ Church Cathedral. Ian Keatley, Director of Music at the cathedral, led this workshop. We were delighted to welcome over 60 people to the workshop.

Anglican Chant Workshop 2019