Organ Scholarship Service at Belfast Cathedral

On the Feast Day of St Michael and All Angels, Sunday 29th September, an Organ Scholarship Choral Evensong was held in Belfast Cathedral.

The Board of Management of the Dioceses of Down, Dromore and Connor’s Organ Scholarship Scheme invites applications for scholarships which are awarded annually. This scheme, in its twenty–ninth year, helps provide and equip organists for public worship. It was established in 1990 when an anonymous benefactor, recognising the importance of the ministry of music in parish life and worship, provided a very generous endowment to train organists in the Dioceses.

A trust was set up and administered by the Church of Ireland Trustees and a Board of Management.

Prior to the presentation of certificates and commissioning, the beautiful Service of Choral Evensong took place under the direction of the new Cathedral Organist, Mr Matthew Owens, and included Bible readings by Dr Joe McKee, St Columba’s Knock, and Mr Timothy Wilson, Jordanstown. Prayers were led by the Revd Dr Ian Mills.

Dr McKee and Dr Mills are two of the tutors along with Mr Michael McCracken, Down Cathedral.

The Address was given by the Revd Canon John Auchmuty, Chair of Down, Dromore and Connor Organ Scholarship Scheme. Canon Auchmuty opened his address with the words from Hebrews: “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.”

He stressed that God gives us strength to sustain us – to give of our best. To be a part of worship is a privilege connecting with Almighty God and the needs of individual congregations. Canon Auchmuty focussed firstly on Respect – sharing love one with another through words, actions and music. He also reminded us of so much lack of respect being shown one to the other in our society at present. Respect needs to be promoted through our lives and worship. As we receive the love of God in Christ so we are called to share that love with one another through mutual respect and love.

Secondly, Relevance – what we do in our worship, music and liturgy needs to be relevant to the needs of those who come to worship. It is so important to make the music, Canticles and Psalms, connect with those amongst us in our own parishes and those who may be visiting.

Thirdly, Renewal – we live in a fast moving world so we can’t stand still. We are called not to be anchored in the past but to serve God in the current age for years to come.

His final comments reminded the new scholars to embrace whatever has gone before and build on it, to realise the rich tradition expressed in the liturgies and to give thanks for the opportunity to serve God through music. Canon Auchmuty in summing up reminded us to always give thanks, as we had heard in the reading from Hebrews, emphasising: “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Successful candidates who have now completed their three–year course gained their certificates.

Caroline McCartney, St Columba’s Knock, (unable to attend as she was starting her music degree course at Durham University)

Kathryn Robb, St Cedma’s Larne

The new scholars – David Dunlop from All Saints’ Belfast and Clare Kelly from St Patrick’s Jordanstown – were then commissioned for a period of three years.

There are currently five second year scholars and six third year scholars

Glenn English – St John Magherally
Jack McCabe – Killinchy, Kilmood and Tullynakill
Sean Turner – Ballymoney, Finvoy and Rasharkin
Natalie Bell – Christ Church Lisburn
Tanya Hanna – St Mark’s Dundela
Rebekah Wilson – All Saints Belfast
Callum Whiteside – St Mark’s Ballysillan
Jane Knowles – Broomhedge
Victoria Irwin – St John’s Whitehouse
Kathryn Murdie – Ballywillan
Amy Norris – Kilmore