Children making their First Holy Communion at the Parish of St Wilfrid in Ripon on Sunday 17 July were led in worship by a brand new choir of their peers from St Wilfrid’s Primary School.
Accompanied by Organist Chris Davis, Choral Director Will Bruce conducted the young singers in a church he described as ‘Packed to the rafters!’
Mass was celebrated by Parish Priest Canon Ian Smith, who was impressed by the choir’s high musical standards, as well as their reverent behaviour, as they led the congregation, including their Head Teacher Mrs Allen, in singing the Blessed Christopher Wharton Mass for Voice and Organ: a contemporary Mass setting originally written for the Bradford Catholic Youth Choir and the schools of the Blessed Christopher Wharton Catholic Academy Trust by Tom Leech, the Director of the Diocese’s Schools Singing Programme.
Combining the best of ancient and modern in liturgical music, the Offertory Motet was the joyous Cuncti Simus Concanéntes, from the collection of 14th century Catalan pilgrim songs known as the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat and then it was back to reflective contemporary sacred music with Margaret Rizza’s Song of Mary for the Communion Motet.
This year is a special one for St Wilfrid’s Church and School, as it is the 1350th anniversary of St Wilfrid himself consecrating his first church in Ripon, part of which still exists under the later Cathedral. The plan is for the new St Wilfrid’s Singers to sing at Mass on a more regular basis and for other parish and school events and concerts, as well as to continue singing for fun and in fulfilment of their school’s music curriculum.
The school is one of several benefiting from the Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme (SSP) which has recently expanded into most schools, thanks to the generosity of a grant from the Hamish Ogston Foundation.
The educational and social benefits of singing are well known and the SSP offers musical, academic and broadcasting opportunities to children of all faiths and none in our Catholic schools, regardless of their background. The Singing Programme also enables an even closer relationship between school and parish, and brings many young people and their families back into church, back into the parish community, back into the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist – and in many cases back to a renewal of faith and of Mass attendance.
Congratulations to the St Wilfrid’s Singers for such a successful debut as a parish choir – as well as to all the young parishioners making their First Communion!