St Mark's Choir


The choir at St Mark’s Church has a distinguished history, and a rich heritage of music making. Since the early days of the church’s foundation a choir has supported the liturgical tradition at St Mark’s. In recent times organists have included Timothy Lees and Stephen Bullamore. More recently, Sam Bayliss and Peter Eyles have directed the music at St Mark’s. Sam Bayliss was organ scholar at Somerville College, Oxford, and continues to be an active church musician since his time at St Mark’s.

The choir has also enjoyed associations with many distinguished English musicians, including Benjamin Britten who composed the ‘Festival Te Deum’ to mark the church’s centenary in 1945.

The current choir consists of a small, committed and experienced group of adult singers who come from the Parish and the immediate local area. Their main duty is to sing at the Sunday 10.30am Parish Mass. They rehearse once a month on a Friday evening and for 30 minutes before Sunday Mass. Extra rehearsals are scheduled during the busy periods (Advent/Christmas and Easter) and the choir sings on the important days of the Church’s year (e.g. Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday).

St Mark’s possesses a well-stocked choir library of a wide repertoire. The Parish uses the New English Hymnal and a variety of congregational mass settings. Choral masses are also regularly used: these range from Byrd to Mozart, to Vierne and Langlais. The choir sings the Sunday psalmody to Anglican chant, and switches to plainchant for the penitential seasons (Advent and Lent). It also chants the Propers for each Sunday and Festival. There is also an impressive repertoire of liturgical anthems and motets, from sixteenth century polyphonic motets to compositions by contemporary composers. A recent highlight has been the Christmas anthem ‘Welcome, all wonders’ written for the choir by Philip Stopford.

We are always looking for singers to join us either as regular members or as extras for special services and major fesivals. If you would like to find out more or are interested in joining, please contact the Director of Music via the Parish Office


There are several musical updates to be shared from the past few months. The two main services of the Christmas season, the Advent Carols and the Nine Lessons, were December highlights. The choir sang a diverse selection of music at both services, incorporating old and new repertoire. It was particularly good to sing a new piece by Philip Stopford, Lully, Lulla, Lullay, at both the Nine Lessons and Midnight Mass. This gained a strong approval rating from both choir and congregation. Another Stopford piece written a number of years ago for St Mark’s Choir, Welcome all wonders was part of the Nine Lessons.

There have been two further developments. Many of you may already have heard that both David and Philip will be leaving after Easter 2018. As you are no doubt aware, we both travel quite far to get to St Mark’s and the commute is beginning to take its toll especially with juggling work and study commitments. We are both very sorry to be leaving as we have greatly enjoyed our involvement at St Mark’s, and appreciated the support of the choir and congregation, and we extend our thanks and best wishes to you all.

The other development concerns choral services at St Mark’s. From January, there will be one choral service a service a month, on the fourth Sunday. Other services will be congregational. Please see the musc pages for details of all services.

Between now and Easter on choral Sundays, the choir will sing masses by Basil Harwood, G.P. de Palestrina, and Franz Schubert, and anthems by Richard Farrant, George Malcolm, and John Goss. On congregational Sundays outside Lent the setting will be David Thorne’s ‘Mass of St Thomas’ which is now well-known in the congregation. In Lent it will be ‘A New English Folk Mass’ (New English Hymnal at 541).

S. Mark's Choir
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