Provincial press releases

Archbishop honours church musicians

People who dedicate their time to keeping music at the heart of services in churches and chapels Sunday after Sunday, will be honoured this weekend.

Organists and choir leaders from across Wales will be presented with certificates by the Archbishop of Wales at a special service at Llandaff Cathedral on Saturday at 3pm (Jan 7).

They include two sisters who have both played the organ in churches in Carmarthenshire for the past sixty years and a hymn writer who has been organist at his local chapel for 70 years.

In all 10 people will receive the Archbishop of Wales’ Certificate of Merit in Church Music this year. The certificate pays tribute to the talents and devoted service of musicians who are not professionally trained. In addition, one person will receive the Archbishop of Wales’ Award in Church Music, which recognises people of outstanding musical ability. The awards are open to musicians from all denominations of Christian worship.

The Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, said the awards were a way for the wider church to recognize the important part music played in worship and to thank those who made it happen. He said, ” Music, because it doesn’t pack its message into the capsule of ideas, can utter the unutterable and can help us express feelings, emotions and desires which are deeper than any words and touch parts of us which almost nothing else can.

“The contribution of musicians to the liturgy of the Church is not an incidental extra, the icing on the cake, but belongs to the very essence of what worship is all about.”

Choristers at St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny

The Revd Harri Williams, secretary of the Awards’ committee, said, “Our churches and chapels have a wonderful heritage of choirs and talented organists. These awards recognize and celebrate the dedication, talent and hard-work put in week after week, year after year.

“We welcome nominations from all churches and chapels, of whatever denomination.”

The Archbishop’s Certificate of Merit in Church Music will be presented to:

• John Clutton of St David’s Church, Penrhyn Bay. Mr Clutton has been a chorister, and later a choir master, for more than 65 years.
• Ronald Haynes of Zion’s Hill, Presbyterian Church in Bonmere Heath. Mr Haynes has been organist for the past 55 years.
• Mrs Valerie Parker of St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Cwmbach. Mrs Parker has served the parish for the past 50 years and as full-time organist since the 1980s.
• William Griffiths Cale BEM of the Parish of Rudbaxton. Mr Cale has been a church musician in several parishes in Pembrokeshire for more than 75 years.
• Dr Geraint Rees of the Parish of Narberth. Mr Rees has been the parish organist for more than 40 years.
• Albert Purslow of St Thomas’s Church Penycae. Mr Purslow has been the church organist for more than 50 years.
• Mrs Muriel Thomas of Llandefeilog Parish and her sister Mrs Eileen Jones of Capel y Groes, Peniel, have both served as organists for more than 60 years.
• Andrew Buller of St Nicholas’ Swansea has been a chorister for more than 50 years and led the choir for the past 25 years.
• Dr Alun Jones has been the organist for 70 years at Beulah United Reformed Church in Cardiff and is the author of many hymns and composer of music to accompany them.

The Archbishop of Wales’ Award in Church Music will be presented to Mrs Haulwen Jones of Gwersyllt, Wrexham, who has been organist and choir mistress at Holy Trinity Church for 40 years and done much to train young people.

More information about the awards and how to nominate someone