I write these notes a few days after Palm Sunday. The two choral services were of necessity long but the services were very moving in terms of the devotional aspects of Christ’s Passion and the beginning of Holy Week. The choir had a short rehearsal time for the ‘Cross of Christ’ service on Palm Sunday evening but I was delighted with the music and found the service to be moving and rewarding in so many ways. I was really pleased that the choir stalls were full on both occasions and thank the choir, once again, for their excellent commitment and support.

I was particularly pleased with the response of the young girls in the choir as they remained focussed and so very well behaved during the long periods of the readings and, indeed, the length of the services. It is good discipline for young children to have to do this but I never have any concerns about the girls’ reactions to these types of service.

We look forward to Easter Day and the great celebration of Christ’s resurrection, with joyful music replacing the devotional nature of the music during Lent and Holy Week.

The Sunday after Easter is traditionally a choir holiday on what was referred to as Low Sunday and the choir will enjoy two weekends holiday from practice and service as the week following Low Sunday is an All-Age service. I hope everyone enjoys the break after all their hard work, excellent attendances and efforts.

The sponsored hymn-sing planned for January will now be held in May and I will publicise details shortly.

I am very excited about the next RSCM Choral Festival on Saturday 16th June. This Festival will take place in Tintern Abbey and the Lord Bishop will preside over Choral Evensong in the wonderful surroundings of the Abbey. It must be thirty plus years since the last ‘Tintern Festival’ and I cannot wait for this day to come! Emma Gibbins is organising the service which will be a massive event. In years gone by, there would have been 400 or more choristers from church choirs in the Monmouth Diocese singing. Today, as the number of churches with choirs, and therefore the numbers of choristers, has declined, an invitation has been sent to neighbouring Dioceses for choirs to join the Monmouth Diocese choirs. So we should be able to muster a huge choir for the service. Rosemary Field, the Deputy Director of RSCM, will direct the service and the choirs will be accompanied by Clive Aspden on the organ (the organ specially hired for the occasion!).

I am arranging to hire a large 70-seater coach to take the choir, parents and any members of the conregation who would like to join us for the Festival and we will share the coach (and its cost) with the Cathedral choir. Look out for further information but let me know if you are interested in coming. In case of inclement weather, the service will take place in St Mary’s Priory Church in Chepstow. Everyone must take a fold-up chair, blanket or bean bag to sit on and a packed lunch!! It will be a wonderful day out and the sounds of such a large choir will be thrilling, I’m sure. I joined the choir at St John’s in 1958 and attended my first Tintern Festival in 1960. I have never forgotten it and have many very fond memories of several Festivals which were held every four years in those days.

St John's Church Maindee