St Cecilia service held at Westminster Abbey

The St Cecilia Service: A Celebration of Music was held at Westminster Abbey at 11.00am on Wednesday 23rd November 2016.

The annual festival service rotates between St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, and the music is sung by the combined choirs of the three churches.

Before the service, there was a robed procession by members of the City Livery Companies.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding: ‘We gather, representing three of the great churches of our Cities of London and Westminster and many of the City of London’s livery companies, in this holy place, where God’s praises have been sung for over a thousand years, to celebrate the joy of music, and the gifts brought us by musicians.

‘We gather to celebrate the patron saint of music, St Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr, to remember with thanksgiving the great musicians of this Festival’s history, including Henry Purcell, a former Organist here who is buried in Musicians’ Aisle, to support the work of Help Musicians UK, and to pray for all musicians and for those who suffer for the truth’s sake.’

The combined choirs sang the premiere of Music, Make by Toby Young, commissioned for the service by Help Musicians UK with support from the RVW Trust.

A Testimony was read by Donald Clist, a beneficiary of Help Musicians UK.

Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE, Founder, the Chineke! Foundation, read 1 Samuel 16: 14-23, and Graham Sheffield CBE, Director of Arts, The British Council, read Philippians 2: 5-11.

The Address was given by Sir James Galway OBE.

The prayers were led by the Reverend Christopher Stoltz, Minor Canon and Precentor, and said by: the Reverend Ronald Corp OBE, Artistic Director, New London Orchestra and the New London Children's Choir; Canon Christopher Tuckwell, Administrator, Westminster Cathedral; the Reverend Michael Hampel, Canon Precentor, St Paul's Cathedral; and the Reverend David Stanton, Canon in Residence.

The combined choirs were conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers, Westminster Abbey. The organ was played by Daniel Cook, Sub-Organist, Westminster Abbey.

The Festival of St Cecilia, a Help Musicians UK annual event, has been held in London each year since 1946, on the Wednesday nearest to St Cecilia’s Day, 22nd November.

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© 2017 The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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