The articles below are taken from my monthly columns in St Edmund's Church parish magazine ("The King"), which includes full details of my organ voluntaries for that month.




Saint Anthony of Padua was born Fernando de Bulhões into a wealthy Lisbon family in 1195 just metres from the cathedral - the church of Santo Antonio stands on the site of his birth. His initial education was in the Cathedral but at the age of fifteen Fernando joined the Augustine Abbey of St Vincent on the outskirts of the Portuguese capital. In 1220, inspired by the martyrdom of five Franciscans in Morocco, Fernando joined their order and took the name Anthony. He is said to have been an eloquent preacher with a loud and clear voice, a winning smile, a wonderful memory, and profound learning. One night, the Divine Child came to visit Anthony. He kissed the saint gently and told him how much He loved him. In many churches, to this day, there are statues of Saint Anthony with the Child in his arms. He died in the Italian city of Padua in 1231 and his relics lie in the wonderful Basilica there. He is famously the Patron Saint of lost and stolen items, sometimes invoked in the prayer "Tony, Tony, turn around. Something's lost and must be found."

We recently spent five days in Lisbon and visited both the Cathedral and the Church of Santo Antonio. Of course we had to visit the fabulous Estadio da Luz, home to Benfica Football Club and venue for England's exit in Euro 2004 at the hands of Portugal. Alex had a wonderful time there and his collection of football shirts continues to increase!

Jul 1st
Prelude - “The Sacrifice of Isaac” (Peterhouse Chapel Window Suite) - B.Ferguson
Postlude - Hallelujah Chorus - G.F.Handel

Jul 8th
Prelude - Choral - Louis Vierne
Postlude - Hornpipe ("Water Music") - G.F.Handel

Jul 15th
Prelude - Lied - Louis Vierne
Postlude - Postlude on "Hyfrodol" - H.Coleman
Jul 22th
Prelude - Berceuse - E.Tomlinson
Postlude - Trio Sonata No 1 (1st Move) - J.S.Bach

Jul 29th
Prelude - Andante - A.Scriabin
Postlude - Carillon - Louis Vierne

Aug 26th
Prelude - Canon in D - J.Pachelbel
Postlude - Prelude in B Minor - J.S.Bach


On June 30th I shall be participating in a very special organ recital at Peterhouse, my old College. It is the oldest of the 31 Cambridge colleges and was founded in 1284 by Hugo De Balsham, Bishop of Ely. The main court which houses the Chapel and Hall is known as Old Court and dates back to the 13th Century. The Chapel itself dates from the 17th Century and is a hybrid of Gothic and Renaisance styles. The organ was built in 1765 by the famous German organ builder John Snetzler, although it has been extensively rebuilt twice (in 1895 and 1963).
Barry Ferguson was organ scholar at Peterhouse in the early sixties and later held the post of organist at Rochester Cathedral for seventeen years. In 2004 he began to write a ten-movement piece for organ based on the stained glass windows in Peterhouse chapel, completing the work in Holy Week 2006. The hymn tune “St Peter” - How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds - appears in a number of movements. On June 30th there are due to be ten of us former Peterhouse organ scholars, including several ex-cathedral organists, each performing a movement of the “Peterhouse Chapel Window Suite” with Barry Ferguson himself playing the final movement. It should prove to be a memorable if rather daunting occasion. I shall be performing a movement of this piece at St Edmund's on the following day.

June 2nd sees the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Edward Elgar. He was born at Broadheath near Worcester in a cottage which is now home to the Elgar Birthplace museum. His father was a local organist and ran a music shop and Edward was largely self-taught as a musician. He eventually succeeded his father as organist of St George's Church in Worcester. His First Organ Sonata was written in 1895 for the organ in Worcester Cathedral. The work took just one week to write and was first performed by Cathedral organist Hugh Blair.

Jun 3rd
Prelude - Adagio (Cello Concerto) - E.Elgar
Postlude - Organ Sonata No.1 (1st Move.) - E.Elgar

Jun 10th
Prelude - Chanson de Nuit - E.Elgar
Postlude - Voluntary - William Boyce

Jun 17th
Prelude - Sonata No 3 (2nd Movement) - F.Mendelssohn
Postlude - Sonata No 3 (1st Movement) - F.Mendelssohn

Jun 24th
Prelude - Air and Gavotte - S.S.Wesley
Postlude - Prelude No 4 - Franz Schmidt




The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which I shall be playing before and after the Easter Day service, is not only Johann Sebastian Bach's (pictured above) single most famous work, it is one of the best known pieces in music, being one of the few classical works universally recognisable by the general public. However, the musical world is divided as to whether the great composer actually composed the piece and it is indeed like nothing else that he ever wrote. There is no score in Bach's own hand and the earliest source is by one of his pupils, Johann Ringk, a character of allegedly dubious reputation. Peter Williams, one of the best-known Bach musicologists, suggests that the work was originally written for a solo violin and in the higher key of A Minor. The texture is much more characteristic of string writing and there was also a precedent for Bach transcribing violin pieces for organ. Several transcriptions have been made for solo violin as well as for piano and orchestra. The latter, by conductor Leopold Stokowski, was used to great effect in the 1940 Walt Disney film “Fantasia”. It has also been extensively covered by pop musicians.

Click here for a video performance of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor played by Hans-Andre Stamm in the German town of Waltershausen, on an organ Bach actually played in his lifetime.

Apr 1st
Postlude - Fugue No 1 on BACH - R.Schumann

Apr 8th
Prelude - Toccata in D Minor (BWV565) - J.S.Bach
Postlude - Fugue in D Minor (BWV565) - J.S.Bach

Apr 15th
Prelude - Nun Sei Willkommen Jesus Lieber Herr - F.Peeters
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue in D Minor - D.Buxtehude

Apr 22nd
Prelude - Salix - P.Whitlock
Postlude - Grand March (Aida) - G.Verdi

Apr 29th
Prelude - Three Pieces for Musical Clocks - J.Haydn
Postlude - Toccata - G.Mushel

May 6th
Prelude - Après Un Rêve - G.Fauré
Postlude - Final & Marche - L.Boellmann

May 13th
Prelude - Sheep May Safely Graze - J.S.Bach
Postlude - Organ Concerto - G.F.Handel

May 20th
Prelude - Prière du Christ Montant Vers Son Père (L'Ascension) - O.Messiaen
Postlude - Trio Sonata No 5 (1st movement) BWV 529 - J.S.Bach

May 27th
Prelude - Prelude on "Rhosymedre" - R.Vaughan Williams
Postlude - Prelude on "Hyfrydol" - R.Vaughan Williams


Here is the nation's favourite hymn according to a recent "Songs of Praise" survey.

No.1 - How Great Thou Art (Click to listen)
“O store Gud” is a Swedish hymn with words written by poet and lay minister Carl Boberg (pictured above) and set to an old Swedish folk melody. Boberg wrote it after being caught in a thunderstorm while walking back from a church meeting during the summer of 1885. It was initially translated from Swedish into German and then into Russian. On a visit to Carpathia, British Missionary Stuart Hine and his wife heard the Russian version of the hymn. Hine subsequently translated it into English and added a verse of his own for good measure. This English version became very popular and spread throughout the Christian world through British missionaries. American theologian Dr Edwin Orr heard it being performed in Burma and took it back to the USA where it became the signature song for Billy Graham's 1950s crusades. It was later recorded by Elvis Presley and won the 1967 Grammy for Best Sacred Performance.

Here is a list of all twenty hymns in the "Songs of Praise" survey. Click on the titles to listen.

20 Amazing Grace
19 Praise my Soul the King of Heaven
18 Abide with me
17 I Vow to Thee
16 What a Friend
15 Great is thy Faithfulness
14 And Can it Be
13 Thine be the Glory
12 O Love that wilt not let me go
11 Jerusalem
10 Shine Jesus Shine
9 In Christ Alone
8 Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer
7 Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
6 Be Still for the Presence of the Lord
5 Love Divine all Love's Excelling
4 Be Thou my Vision
3 The Day Thou Gavest
2 Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
1 How Great Thou Art

Mar 4th
Prelude - Duetto - Percy Whitlock
Postlude - Voluntary in C Major - W.Boyce

Mar 11th
Prelude - Aria - Flor Peeters
Postlude - Voluntary in A Minor - W.Boyce

Mar 18th
Prelude - Pastoral Symphony - G.F.Handel
Postlude - Sortie - Lefebure-Wely

Mar 25th
Prelude - Prelude on “Rockingham” - C.Parry
Postlude - Prelude & Fugue in F Sharp Minor - D.Buxtehude


I am continuing my countdown of the nation's favourite hymns as surveyed by "Songs of Praise".

No.3 - The Day Thou Gavest (Click to listen)
The Reverend John Ellerton was a rec­og­nized au­thor­i­ty on hymns and con­trib­ut­ed to Hymns An­cient and Mo­dern. "The Day Thou Gavest" was written in 1870 for a missionary meeting. Queen Victoria chose this hymn for her Diamond Jubilee celebration and it was sung in thousands of churches on June 20th, 1897. The tune was written by Clement Scholefield and first appeared in the 1874 publication Church Hymns with Tunes. Ordained in 1869, Scholefield served in a number of parishes, mainly in London, and was also Conduct of Eton College for ten years, a post latterly held by Radio 2 presenter Roger Royle.

No.2 - Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (Click to listen)
The words to this hymn form part of the 1872 poem “The Brewing of Soma”, written by the American poet and Quaker John Whittier. Soma is a sacred Hindu drink with hallucinogenic properties and Whittier sees the drinking of it as distracting the mind from its proper purpose of worship. The music was written by Charles Parry (pictured) and was originally set to an alto aria in his 1888 oratorio “Judith”. In 1924 Dr George Stocks, the Director of Music of Repton School, set it to Whittier's poem in a supplement of tunes to be used in the school chapel. Despite the need to repeat the last line of words, the tune Repton provides an inspired matching of words and music.

Feb 4th
Prelude - Ave Maria - G.Caccini
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 5 (BWV 557) - J.S.Bach

Feb 11th
Prelude - Chanson de Matin - E.Elgar
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 6 (BWV 558) - J.S.Bach

Feb 18th
Prelude - Minuet - G.F.Handel
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 7 (BWV 559) - J.S.Bach

Feb 25th
Prelude - Es Ist Ein' Ros' Entsprungen - J.Brahms
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 8 (BWV 560) - J.S.Bach


I am continuing my countdown of the nation's favourite hymns as surveyed by "Songs of Praise".

No.5 - Love Divine All Love's Excelling (Click to listen)
The words were written by Charles Wesley (who also wrote the words to "And Can It Be" which was No.14 in the survey). His 6000 hymns also include "Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus", "Hail The Day That Sees Him Rise", "Jesu Lover Of My Soul" and "Rejoice The Lord Is King". Two tunes are commonly sung to this hymn. "Blaenwern" was composed in 1905 by William Penfro Rowlands, a schoolteacher and conductor from the Welsh town of Morriston, home of the world-famous Orpheus Male-Voice Choir. The alternative tune was written in 1889 by John Stainer (pictured above), who is best-known for "The Crucifixion", which St Edmund's Choir regularly perform on Passion Sunday.

No.4 - Be Thou My Vision (Click to listen)
The words of this hymn date from the 8th Century and are often attributed to the Irish poet and Saint Dallan Forgaill. The words were translated into English by Mary Byrne in 1905 and were versified by Eleanor Hull seven years later. The melody, "Slane", is an Irish folk song which tells the story of Slane Hill (in modern County Meath) where in 443AD, tradition says that St. Patrick lit a Paschal fire in defiance of the pagan High King. The King was so impressed by Patrick's devotion that he let him continue his missionary work in Ireland. The tune is also sung to the words "Lord of all Hopefulness".

Jan 7th
Prelude - Chorale Prelude on "Stuttgart" - Flor Peeters
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 1 (BWV 553) - J.S.Bach

Jan 14th
Prelude - Chorale Prelude on "Dix" - Malcolm Archer
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 2 (BWV 554) - J.S.Bach

Jan 21st
Prelude - Adagio (Symphony No 3) - C.Saint-Saens
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 3 (BWV 555) - J.S.Bach

Jan 28th
Prelude - Pastorale - J.Lubbock
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 4 (BWV 556) - J.S.Bach


We spend alternate Christmases in the South of France with Aline's parents and I am fascinated with their various Christmas traditions.
Most families will have a nativity scene (crèche) with clay figures called santons. These have been popular in Provence for over three hundred years and are sold throughout December at annual Christmas fairs in Marseille and Aix. One of the culinary high points of the season is Le Reveillon, held on Christmas Eve. The culmination of this meal is Les Treize Desserts (The 13 Desserts) - the number present at the Last Supper. It typically comprises of fresh and dried fruits, nuts and sweets.
At Epiphany, to celebrate the arrival of the three Kings, there is the ritual of the galette des rois, a circular pastry filled with almond paste together with a tiny fève, historically a broad bean but now generally a porcelain figure. The youngest child decides who gets each slice and the person with the fève is crowned King or Queen for the day and gets to wear the paper crown that came with the galette.

A number of our popular Christmas carols originate from France. "Angels from the Realms of Glory" was originally called "Les Anges dans nos Campagnes" ("The Angels in our fields") which comes from the Languedoc region of Southern France between Toulouse and Nimes. If the chorus seems similar to "Ding Dong Merrily On High" this is not surprising as this is also French! It is in fact a sixteenth century Bransle, a dance similar to a gavotte. The English text was written by George Woodward and was first published in 1924 in his "Cambridge Carol Book" in collaboration with the composer Charles Wood, who provided the musical arrangement which is still generally used today.

Listen to Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes
Listen to Ding Dong Merrily On High

May I take this opportunity to wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. My e-mail address is If you have any comments or questions I would be very pleased to hear from you. I will complete my countdown of the nation's favourite hymns in the New Year.

BONUS AUDIO - Here is a performance of my carol I Sing Of A Maiden, recorded in the mid-eighties by the Highcliffe Youth Choir. It will be performed at the St Edmund's Carol Service on December 17th.

Dec 3rd
Prelude - O Come O Come Emmanuel - C.Hand
Postlude - Wachet Auf - J.S.Bach

Dec 10th
Prelude - Advent Reflections - R.Bonighton
Postlude - Now Thank We All Our God - S.Karg-Elert

Dec 17th (10am)
Prelude - Sicilienne - Maria Theresia von Paradis
Postlude - Fantasia on Helmsley - A.Ridout

Dec 17th (6.30pm)
Prelude - Six Interludes on Christmas Carols - W.Lloyd-Webber
Postlude - In Dulci Jubilo - J.S.Bach & Toccata - C.Widor

Dec 24th (10am)
Prelude - Desseins Eternals - O.Messiaen
Postlude - Vom Himmel Hoch, Da Komm' Ich Her - J.Pachelbel

Dec 24th (11.30pm)
Prelude - A Christmas Rhapsody - D.Sanger
Postlude - In Dulci Jubilo - J.S.Bach & Toccata - Widor

Dec 25th
Prelude - In Dulci Jubilo - D.Buxtehude
Postlude - Postlude on "Adeste Fideles" - E.Thiman

Dec 31st
Prelude - Pastorale (Christmas Concerto) - A.Corelli
Postlude - Overture ("Messiah") - G.F.Handel (1685-1759), arr Coleman


I am continuing my countdown of the nation's favourite hymns as surveyed by "Songs of Praise".

No.7 - Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace (Click to listen)
Composer Sebastian Temple (pictured above) was born in South Africa in 1928, later moving to London to work for the BBC. “Make Me a Channel of your Peace”, written in 1967, was the late Princess of Wales' favourite hymn and was performed at her funeral in 1997, the year of Temple's own death. Temple himself arranged the words of St Francis of Assisi's prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope, where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

No.6 - Be Still For The Presence of the Lord (Click to listen)
The words and music to this hymn were written by David J Evans. I can find no information about the composer other than he was born in 1957 and wrote this hymn in 1986

Nov 5th
Prelude - Chanson de Nuit - E.Elgar
Postlude - Canzona in D Minor - J.S.Bach

Nov 12th
Prelude - Nimrod - E.Elgar
Postlude - Fame and Glory - A.Matt

Nov 19th
Prelude - Prelude on “Picardy” - A.Rowley
Postlude - Sonata No 4 (1st Move.) - F.Mendelssohn

Nov 26th
Prelude - Abdijvrede - F.Peeters
Postlude - Carillon - L.Vierne


I am continuing my countdown of the nation's favourite hymns as surveyed by "Songs of Praise".

No.9 - In Christ Alone (Click to listen)
Stuart Townend grew up in West Yorkshire, England, where his father was a Church of England vicar. "In Christ Alone" dates from 2002 and was jointly written by Townsend and Irish composer Keith Getty. This was their first and arguably most successful collaboration and they have since worked together on many worship songs.

No.8 - Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer (Click to listen)
The words were written in 1745 by William Williams (pictured above), a welsh preacher who wrote over 800 hymns. It talks about the care that God gave the Israelites in the wilderness: the "bread of heaven" (manna), the "crystal fountain" (water from the rock) and the "fire and cloudy pillar". In 1771, Peter Williams translated three of the original verses into English. The tune "Cwm Rhondda" was not written until 1907. Composer John Hughes worked as a colliery clerk and was also a Baptist Deacon and Precentor. In the trenches of Flanders during World War I it was sung so melodiously by the Welsh soldiers that the German soldiers also took it up. It was also sung at Princess Diana's funeral.

Oct 1st
Prelude - Andantino - Lemare
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue in D - Buxtehude

Oct 8th
Prelude - Pavane - Faure
Postlude - Toccata - Gigout

Oct 15th
Prelude - Priere a Notre Dame - Boellmann
Postlude - Toccata - Boellmann

Oct 22nd
Prelude - Adagio - Barber
Postlude - Processional - Matthias

Oct 29th
Prelude - Sonata No.2 (2nd Move.) - Hindemith
Postlude - Sonata No.2 (1st Move.) - Hindemith


I am continuing my countdown of the nation's favourite hymns as surveyed by "Songs of Praise".

No.11 - Jerusalem (Click to listen)
The words to this hymn were written by William Blake (pictured above) in his epic "Milton - a Poem" of 1804. The text was inspired by the legend that Jesus, while still a young man, accompanied Joseph of Arimathea to Glastonbury, a legend that according to Blake's biographers the poet believed in. Born in London in 1757, Blake was one of the best known English poets and painters of the late 18th & early 19th Centuries. Other than Jerusalem, his most famous poem is arguably "The Tyger", taken from his 1794 "Songs of Experience" ("Tyger Tyger burning bright in the forests of the night"). One of his "Songs of Innocence" (1789) is "The Lamb", which has been set to music by John Taverner and is one of my favourite Christmas carols (you can hear it here). These two poems complement each other; "The Lamb" is a look at childish innocence while "The Tyger" refers to the innocent child growing up. The music to "Jerusalem" was written by Hubert Parry in 1916 for a Fight for Right campaign meeting at the Royal Albert Hall. The most famous version was orchestrated by Sir Edward Elgar and upon hearing it for the first time, King George V said that he preferred that "Jerusalem" replace "God Save The King" as the National Anthem. Parry also wrote the anthem "I Was Glad", used at every coronation since Edward VII's in 1902, as well as the hymn tune "Dear Lord And Father of Mankind" which will feature later in this survey.

No.10 - Shine Jesus Shine (Click to listen)
Graham Kendrick was born in Northampton in 1950, the son of a Baptist pastor. He trained as an English and Ceramics teacher but launched out as a song writer in 1972. He is married with four daughters and lives in Croydon. He wrote the words and music to "Shine Jesus Shine" in 1987. In his own words "this song is a prayer for revival. A songwriter can give people words to voice something which is already in their hearts but which they don't have the words or the tune to express, and I think 'Shine Jesus shine' caught a moment when people were beginning to believe once again that an impact could be made on a whole nation". His other hymns have included "The Servant King" and "Meekness and Majesty". .

Sep 3rd
Prelude - Ave Maria - G.Caccini (1545-1618)
Postlude - Grand Coeur in D - A.Guilmant (1837-1911)

Sep 10th
Prelude - Promenade Sentimentale - V.Cosma (b.1940)
Postlude - Arrival of the Queen of Sheba - George Handel (1695-1759)

Sep 17th
Prelude - Hymne - J.Canteloube (1879-1957)
Postlude - Praise The Lord O My Soul - S.Karg-Elert (1877-1933)

Sep 24th
Prelude - The Londonderry Air - Trad, arr.Geehl
Postlude - Sortie - L.Lefebure-Wely (1817-1869)

Colour Line

Colour Line