Michael Rose will celebrate 60 years of singing in church choirs with a diamond jubilee Choral Evensong at St Peter’s Church, Caversham, at 6.30pm on Sunday, September 21, bringing together past and present members of the choir, plus members of the Erleigh Cantors.
Mike has been singing in church choirs since Stravinsky’s In Memoriam Dylan Thomas premiered in Los Angeles, the National People’s Congress adopted China’s first communist constitution and the world’s first nuclear submarine was commissioned in the United States.
“Music, particularly Church Music, has been a permanent inspiration to my structured and disciplined way of life,” Mike says.
“Singing hymns to the Glory of god, the wonderful tunes constantly rolling round in my head and the years of Christian unity of choir membership has given me enormous fulfilment. At times, in a troubled mind, there has been no greater means of shelter than through my church and its music.”
St John the Evangelist Church in Friern Barnett, North London, was the first to benefit from Mike’s singing. He joined the choir in September 1954, at the age of 10.
At his first choir practice, he was introduced to the Psalms, which have remained a singing passion ever since, along with the symphonies and concertos of Johannes Brahms.
A residential course at the Royal School of Church Music soon followed, under the tutorship of Martin How and John Dykes Bowyer, after which Mike was appointed head chorister at St John’s.
Llandaff Cathedral was Mike’s next choir, when he moved to work in Cardiff after leaving school. In 1964, he successfully auditioned as an alto. Cape Town Cathedral and the local Gilbert and Sullivan society joined Mike’s CV when work took him briefly to South Africa, before he settled, in 1967, at St Stephen’s, Ealing, still as an alto. It was in Ealing that Mike met and married his wife Margaret.
At the end of the ’70s, moving to Caversham, Mike began singing with the St Peter’s Church choir and has sung with them for the 35 years since.
Such is his love of the Psalms that, in 1985, Mike convinced then Rector Dick Kingsbury and choirmaster Andrew Boseley to let him organise a charity Psalmathon.
With the help of four organists and four back-up choirs, all 150 Psalms were sung, non-stop, in 12 hours. It remains a highlight of Mike’s life of church singing.
There will, of course, be a Psalm during Mike’s celebration Choral Evensong: Psalm 65, Thou O God, Are Praised In Sion.
Mike has chosen all the music, including Crown Him With Many Crowns for the first hymn and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus as one of the anthems, as well as his “very favourite”, the Stanford Te Deum.
Mike has no intention of hanging up his choir robes. In fact, he is now assisting the librarian in looking after the choir music.
Mike’s choice: the order of service for a celebratory evensong
Crown Him with many Crowns
Love Divine All Loves Excelling
The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended.
Thou O God, Are Praised In Sion ( Chant ‘Smart’ )
MAGNIFICAT / NUNC DIMITIS: Setting to Stanford in ‘C’
Glorious And Powerful God (Wood)
Te Deum In B Flat (Stanford)
Hallelujah Chorus (Handel)
St Peter’s choir will be augmented by invited past members as well as by members of the Erleigh Cantors.
The conductor will be Ian Westley (choirmaster at St Peter’s) and the organist will be Simon Dinsdale.
The service will be led by the Revd Mike Smith, Rector of the Parish of Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham.