We are proud to continue the tradition of church music which began in the mid nineteenth century with the Oxford Movement when choirs became robed and moved from west end galleries to choir stalls near the high altar.
From being an all-male choir (with a waiting list to join!) which was at its height in the late 1960's, today the mixed choir consists of around thirty adults who rehearse every Friday evening and sing for five services each month.
The repertoire is large and varied with some thirty mass settings ranging from Palestrina through Mozart and Haydn to the present day, along with a similar number of the evensong canticles and countless anthems and motets. We use the New English Hymnal with occasional hymns from other sources.
Our main service is the 10.00am Sunday Sung Eucharist for which we sing a mass setting; gradual psalm (to Anglican chant); communion motet and lead the congregation in four hymns. A fully choral Evensong, or another service like Remembrance, Carol Service etc., happens on two Sunday evenings in the monthly cycle.
Currently the choir uses the following schedule;
Friday Rehearsal 7.00 – 7.30 Juniors
Rehearsal 7.30 – 8.45 Seniors
Sunday Rehearsal 9.30am Service 10.00am (no choir on 3rd Sunday of the month)
Rehearsal 5.45pm Service 6.30pm (on 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month)
For some years we have used the church choir as a basis for a “Come and Sing” event on Palm Sunday evening with performances of works like John Rutter's “Requiem”, Stainer's “Crucifixion”, Handel's “Messiah”, Fauré's “Requiem” etc. Every year we sing for three carol services ; Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.
There is a strong sense of followship within the ranks of the choir with several members having given many years' service to St James' choir. Indeed our oldest member retired in 2021 after 88 years' singing! There have been just three Directors of Music since 1933.
During the year, the church is used for concerts from outside bodies such as the Tyndale Choral Society; Dursley Male Voice Choir; the Oriana Singers etc. The Coffee, Cake and Music organ recital series (which is on the last Saturday of the month at 11.00am from April to October inclusive) now in its eighteenth year is well attended and attracts organists from all over the UK.
At the time of writing we are aiming to start a junior choir based in the work one of our choristers has been doing with the local primary school, but in the meantime we are always happy to welcome new members to our ranks.