Prestbury Parish Magazine
If you’d like to know more about the candidates - why not ask them! Also, look out for their photographs, which should be on display in both churches.
St. Nicolas’ Club
Following a request from a member, St. Nicolas’ Club October meeting was given an interesting and entertaining talk by Father Paul. The title could have been “The Road to the Ministry” and revealed aspects of his life leading to Ordination.
A captive audience found it most enjoyable.
‘Sing with your voices, and with all your moral
Such thoughts as these of years ago still apply to the 20th century and choral singing in Prestbury. St Mary’s Church Choir, in dark red cassocks and white surplices, comprises boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, and there is a good balance of parts in the singing of hymns, responsorial psalms and motets during Sung Eucharists on Sunday mornings and other services on certain week-days. On the occasions when St Mary’s and St Nicolas’ Choirs join together, both find it very enjoyable.
St Mary’s Church Choir has long been affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music, for which we pay an annual subscription. Many interesting courses for all ages of singers are available within the Gloucestershire area. The annual Choir Festivals at Gloucester Cathedral or Tewkesbury Abbey are very much enjoyed by several hundreds of singers from our Diocese. The RSCM invites Junior Choristers to make extensive use of their training scheme, whereby they are awarded medals, progressing through Light Blue, Dark Blue and Red. For those who are especially keen and musically gifted, there is the opportunity to attend RSCM courses and to work for the coveted Diocesan Dean’s Award (Green) and Bishop’s Award (Purple). Young Choristers receive quarterly pay according to age, ability and good work.
At St Nicolas’ the small blue gowns and children’s surplices have been unused for some time as the choir evolved into an adult group. Recently, however, a new junior member has joined and is beginning the new ‘Voice for Life’ training scheme offered by the RSCM under the general guidance of Beryl Elliott. New voices will always be welcome, especially younger ones.
St Nicolas’ choir would normally meet every Friday evening, as St Mary’s does, to familiarise ourselves with the hymns for Sunday, polish a motet from the repertoire or learn a new one. Sadly, without a regular organist and choirmaster, and with rather irregular choir practices, our repertoire has become a little tarnished. We are most grateful to Errol Edwards for helping to bring back a shine to our singing whenever he is available; and we are thankful to have a number of other organists and pianists whom we can call upon to ensure that we have an accompanied Sung Eucharist at 9.30 each Sunday morning. Malcolm McKelvey, Director of Music at St. Mary’s, also keeps a benevolent eye on our well-being at St. Nicolas’ and organises joint choir practices from time to time. Combining with St Mary’s choir for special services is always a good experience. Joint practices highlight difficulties caused by the use of different hymn books in the two churches, in which the same tunes are sometimes harmonised differently.
As well as singing at services St Nicolas’ choir has from time to time given concert performances and taken part in more light-hearted musical entertainments at harvest and other festivals. Each Christmas we usually fill a slot singing carols at one of the Cheltenham supermarkets while collecting money for Christian Aid.
Apart from the robed choirs, there is the Camerata Chorus, numbering up to 20 (or even 28 at times) members, who are willingly happy to sing the Evensong Services on the first Sunday of the month. This Choir is conversant with responses, psalms, canticles and anthems as well as hymns. All are based on the Book of Common Prayer and are relevant to the period. Then there is the general work regarding Concerts and/or Performances in St Mary’s Church or St Mary’s Church Hall, where we sing a fairly wide repertoire of musical interests.
An additional choir has been formed, known as the Wedding Choir, which assists in the singing of Hymns and performs Motets and Anthems during the Signing of the Register; for this, the Choir receives a small remuneration.
Visits to Cathedrals and University Colleges have been a rewarding experience over the last few years, for our Prestbury Choirs have been able to listen to famous Choirs and then aim to improve their own singing. The latest one, earlier this year, was to Winchester Cathedral.
Social events have been organised, the most recent being a Skittles Tournament between St Nicolas’ Choir and St Mary’s Choir, together with a pleasant supper. For the young choristers there will be some entertainment nearer Christmas.
If any keen singers would like to join in these choral activities, please be sure that you would be most welcome at rehearsals and you would enjoy the many ways of living music. ‘COME AND JOIN US’, young and not so young and use your voice more and more!
And at St Nicolas’ we need a regular organist and choirmaster: any suggestions you can give will be welcome.
For more information please contact:-
My first sight of a really ancient Yew was in the churchyard at Much Marcle. Next to the path to the church door it stands, its vast split interior furnished with benches to sit on, shelter, hold meetings. All around the leaning branches are supported on wrought iron poles, rather like old gas lampposts. Much Marcle church is very old - 13th century. But apparently the yew tree is older than the church. This is odd, for it shakes up the theory that yew trees were planted in church yards to prevent cattle/animals wandering over the graves, to provide wood for longbows, to purify and protect those buried, or as a memento mori.
So were churches and their yards planted in yew woods, rather than the other way round? The yew is a native species and its name evident in many place names. Eboracum, the Roman name for York, comes from the Celtic word for yew, eboraca. Perhaps yew copses, like oak groves, were sacred or mysterious places to the Iron Age inhabitants of Britain. It is difficult to date a yew because once it attains the age of 400 to 500 years, the heartwood decays, and the tree becomes hollow, so no tree rings to count. The age has to be assessed by girth. By this method some yew trees are thought to be over 2000 years old. The oldest wooden artefact, a spear head, is calculated to be 250,000 years old. So a very long working relationship between yews and man! So whether the yew or the church came first doesn’t really matter. They both go together. A statute of Edward I (1307) prohibits rectors from cutting down the yews in their churchyards, so even then something of a protected and revered species. They were planted by the church door, churchyard gate, and along the funeral way to the church.
The yew tree is said to symbolise eternal life, therefore people often go to great lengths to protect them and ensure they are not damaged, in order to guard the wellbeing of the community. Thus the people of Selbourne tried to replant their ancient yew when it was blown down in 1990. Many human bones were found entangled in the root ball, Christian burials beneath the tree. In the past people liked their final resting place to be under or near a yew tree. People came from all over Britain to obtain a piece of the fallen tree to keep. Sadly the tree could not be resurrected, but a cutting was taken, and is now thriving.
Our churchyards here in Toddington are well endowed with yews. Yew trees abound in gardens where once stood or still stand the old vicarages. Hailes church has a fine specimen right beside the gate. And one last fact: an alkaloid named taxol, discovered in yews, is being used to treat some forms of cancer; drug companies buy yew clippings for research purposes. Strange that the yew tree, with its poisonous berries and funerial associations, should also have this life-saving property.
Does all this sound gloomy? I hope not. The yew in my garden is host to a great variety of passing birds, songbirds by day, and owls by night. It is full of sound, life, magic, and of course is always evergreen.
Helen. J. McCarthy. 1999.
Celebrate Christingle with The Children's Society
"In a darkened church the lit
Christingles shine the Light of Jesus over all present"
If you've never experienced the joy of seeing children's faces glow in the light of the Christingle, come and see what it's all about.
Please make a note of these dates if you would like to celebrate the millennium with us!
Friday 31st December 1999 Sung Eucharist in St. Mary’s finishing by midnight when at 10.45pm the bells will ring in 2000. The celebrations will continue with something sparkling to drink and some light snacks.
Saturday 1st January 2000 A short service (approximately 15 minutes) at 11.55am in both St. Mary’s and St. Nicolas’, during which our bells will join all the bells in the land in welcoming the New Year.
Saturday 1st January 2000 ‘Raise the roof' at St. Nicolas’. A service for everyone at 5.30pm to join together to celebrate the new millennium. This will be followed by yet more ‘bubbly’ (alcoholic and non-alcoholic!) and some food to soak it up with!
In the New Year we are planning a course for those who are “Living with Under-12s”. It will be led by ACCORD, the diocesan educational group who provided training for our Bereavement Visitors 3 years ago. This parenting course has no specifically Christian content, but provides a great opportunity for getting together with others, learning together, sharing experiences, supporting each other and generally increasing confidence in coping. It is meant for anyone, parent, step-parent etc, who cares for - and lives with - children of infant or junior school age. There will be 4 weekly sessions, and we need between 8 and 20 participants for the course to run. Watch for final details and dates!
Because of the great response for both WORKSHOPS and EXTEND we need a larger venue than Cumming Court.
WORKSHOPS will now be held in St. Mary’s Church Hall, Bouncer’s Lane.
EXTEND (Exercises for the Elderly and Disabled) will now be held in Prestbury Library. We also intend to hold Whist and Scrabble on the Wednesday starting at 2.00pm also in the Library.
All are welcome. We will be asking for a £2 donation as before for WORKSHOPS and EXTEND and £1 for Whist and Scrabble. If you know of a neighbour or friend who would benefit by any of these events, especially if they are lonely or on their own, elderly or disabled, do bring them. So let’s make this the most caring and loving village ever.
Rita Fellows, Warden.
This month’s pet belongs to Jack and Eleanor
Our Cat George
George is a very handsome cat. He is ginger and white with a huge, fluffy tail. Some people think he is a Maine Coon cat, but we don’t know his background as we got him from the Animal Shelter when he was a kitten. George sleeps every night on a cushion on the pew in the kitchen. He doesn’t like cat flaps so we always have to open doors for him.
George’s favourite food is chicken Felix and will do anything for a catnip drop - even the smell makes him purr. George likes eating cheese so he must think he’s a mouse! His best friend is called Billy who lives across the road - he visits him every day.
We love George very much and we hope he loves us too.
by Jack (10) & Eleanor (8)
© Elizabeth Murton 1997
Where are Faith, Hope and Charity illustrated in our parish?
No replies this month, so may I eat the prize myself? To simulate the height of a 4-year-old try entering St. Mary’s church on your knees. The pictures will then be just above eye-level. Fides is facing south, Spes north and Caritas east, which is probably the one you will notice first. The fourth picture faces west and has the words Ecclesia and Synagoga on it. What does the picture represent? Your guess is as good as mine.
This month’s questions:
Traditionally, how many buttons would there be on a clergyman’s cassock? Why that number?
Answers in writing to the Editor please.
Music on Sunday Evenings
In the Winter months it is warmer to stay in St. Mary’s after Evensong for a concert than to venture out mid-morning, midweek! This month we have two such concerts:-
On Sunday 7th November at approx 7.30 pm (after Choral Evensong at 6.30pm) there will be a performance by The Dean Close Scholars, under their Director of Music, Richard Knight.
On Sunday 21st November our own Camerata Chorus, together with several young (and not-so-young!) instrumentalists in the parish, will present a concert for St. Cecilia - the Patron Saint of Music. Evening Prayer will start at 6.30pm and will be very short; then there will be the parish quarterly meeting; and the concert will start at about 7.30pm. Do come to all three.
Do join us, if you are able, on Tuesday 2nd November. We meet at 10am, and offer informal prayers for our clergy, parish and wider concerns. If you’re not able to join us in person then try to join us in prayer, wherever you are, for some of that hour. Check out any details with Beryl.
If another place and time of day for prayer would suit you and your commitments better then why not arrange it with some Christian friends; perhaps you could make it a New Year resolution.
Parish Quiet Day
Saturday 20th November 1999
The Day will be led by The Ven. Tim Raphael, a retired Archdeacon of Middlesex, who is now associated with the Parish of All Saints. Fr. Tim will use various passages from St. John’s Gospel to consider the subject of Ministry. He will give three short addresses which will give us plenty to reflect on in the times of quiet.
Programme for the Day:-
Lunch will be ‘Bring & Share’ - please bring a plate of something (savoury or sweet) to share. We will not insist on eating lunch in silence!
Please sign one of the lists on the notice board of each church. This will help us know how many people are taking part.
Lifts: When you sign-up, please tick the list if you require a lift.
Cost: On the day we will ask for donations to cover costs.
Never been to a Quiet Day before? Don’t worry - you won’t be the only one! Treat it as an opportunity to briefly ‘step aside’ from the things you would normally be doing on a Saturday and spend a little time with The Lord. You might pray. You might read (books will be available, or bring something with you). You might sit and ponder what’s been said in the Addresses, or you might simply ‘rest in the Lord’. If the quiet becomes too much, talking will be allowed in one of the rooms! If you are still not sure, please speak to one of the clergy.
Open House’ for Kambia
There will be an ‘Open House’ at The Priory on Wednesday 3rd November in aid of the Kambia Hospital in Sierra Leone. The Kambia Hospital is linked to Cheltenham General Hospital. After the damage done by the rebels there is much work to be done and the hospital has to be partly rebuilt.
The sale opens at 10.30am and lasts until 3.30pm. We shall be selling Christmas goods and Millennium miscellany, jewellery, clothes, pottery woodcraft, prints etc.
Portrait of Prestbury -
CARDS FOR GOOD CAUSES
cards will be on sale at
Last year we
returned a minimum of 81p in every £1 to the
Tickets are on sale and reservations can be made by ringing Dave Hawkins. The event will take place on Friday 31st December 1999 in St. Mary’s Hall, Bouncers Lane between 8pm and around 1am. Live music, 60s to 90s Pop, Rock and Country, will be provided by Dave Day & Friends. Sorry, no bar, so please bring your own food and drinks. The hall will be open from 2pm on the afternoon of the 31st to allow revellers to select their tables and bring in provisions for the evening. Any help with setting up and decorating on the afternoon would be appreciated, just turn up if you have an hour to spare.
This is a locally run event for Prestbury residents and their friends and adult tickets are £25 each. Any profits will be donated to charity.
This will be the biggest Millennium event to be held in Gloucestershire and is taking place on our own doorstep - Cheltenham Racecourse - on Saturday 10th June 2000. All the Churches of Gloucestershire are being encouraged to support what is being described as ‘a huge party to celebrate 2000 years of Christianity’. We are being promised something for everyone throughout the day and hope that as many of you as possible will book the date now!
Fr. Stephen and Fr. Michael have been involved in some of the organisation which has been going on for well over a year. Other help is required and we expect lots of requests from the organisers. Currently they are looking for stewards and hope that we can provide one (or more) group of six people with a leader.
If you would like to be a steward at Pentecost 2000 on Saturday June 10th, please speak to Fr. Michael.
A Happy 40th Birthday this month to …
Father Michael !
(… or so the little bird tells me.)
The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary and St Nicolas Prestbury Cheltenham - Registered Charity No 1130933
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