The Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir was founded in September 2005 as the St Patrick’s Gospel Choir, and played and sang every Sunday at St Patrick’s Church Soho Square for over five years, this residency coming to an end when that church was closed for refurbishment. The choir was founded in recognition of the fact that Contemporary Gospel Music (CG) is a new pinnacle in the two thousand year history of Christian church music, and that it barely exists in the Roman Catholic Church, even in CG’s home country, the USA.
Our task was therefore to adapt this powerful, Spirit-filled music, which usually takes the form either of exuberant and extrovert choral praise or raw and emotional solo balladry, to the Roman Catholic liturgy, which is prescriptive, venerable, subtle, and where peaceful and reflective music is very often needed. This took many years, during which we commissioned our own Mass settings (from within and without the choir), developed our own rearrangements of well-known hymns and songs and picked and chose amongst CG’s enormous repertoire to find suitable pieces to transcribe and learn. We were helped by the fact that CG is extremely eclectic, drawing on jazz, soul, latin and even traditional “cathedral” music. We use over 300 pieces of repertoire to do justice to the liturgical cycle.
It was always central that our music was written, performed and produced to the very highest standard consistent with a voluntary choir. This we seek to do by attracting the best possible singing talent and using musicians from London’s deep pool of jazz, session and gospel playing talent. Just as important is the sound: to be worthy of the Mass, our music needs to sit on the ears as comfortably as the pipe organ and traditional choir for which Farm Street Church was designed.
At Farm Street we are proud to have made progress in the most challenging area of all: active participation by the congregation. This has been made possible by Farm Street’s musically sophisticated clergy and enthusiastic churchgoers.
The Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir is proud to sing and play at the 5.30pm Mass at Farm Street Church on the third Sunday of every month.
The Beacon Music Group leads the music on the second Sunday of the month at the 5.30pm Mass. Our friendly group of volunteer singers, guitarists and instrumentalists has grown over the years as we welcome people who want to share their musical gifts and who enjoy singing God’s praise. The aim of our group is to inspire others to do the same. Our repertoire includes contemplative music from Taize and the Iona Community, joyful Mass settings and pieces from composers such as Christopher Walker, Marty Haugen and Bernadette Farrell, and well-known songs like “Here I am Lord” and “Make me a channel of your peace”. We also regularly debut new works from upcoming Catholic composers. We welcome all who like to sing or can play instruments. No previous choral experience is necessary, singers don’t need to read music and we don’t ask for a long-term commitment – the only requirement is enthusiasm! For more information, see www.facebook.com/beaconmusicgroup