Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Lee Abbey 2016

We had a terrific week at Lee Abbey this year, with wonderful guests and the amazing community combining for a great performance of Barnabas at the end of the week.  Have a look at this photo montage to see what we got up to!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

CMM in action: July 2016

After an action-packed June, July wasn't much gentler, although most of us did manage to fit in a holiday somewhere - Annie was able to cat-sit for her brother in London for a few days, Helen and James went to Scotland, and Roger and Mary went on a cruise to the Fjords.

CMM Choir

Performances of Snakes and Ladders continued throughout the month for Annie and the CMM Choir.  Audiences were good, and the choir and soloists did a fantastic job.  A huge well done to all who were involved.

Barnabas in Macclesfield

Right at the start of July Roger travelled to Macclesfield to lead a Barnabas day.  It is always such a joy to visit Wendy, Dot and the choir there.  They did a fantastic job learning the music, and the production was fabulous.

It was an interesting day for the team, since a number of the soloists had not sung the musical before - regulars Devon (Saul) and Alan (John Mark) were joined by Simon Cooper as Barnabas, Katie Leaver as Miriam and Sarah Harley as Rhoda.  Particular thanks goes to Simon who came to sing just a day after moving house (you can hear about his house move here).  The team were also brilliantly supported by Marilyn who played flute and helped Roger with conducting, and Sue Walker who was a lovely calm presence on the bookstall and as prayer support.

Just up the road in Manchester there was a rival performance for this one - the United Christian Singers were putting on a concert of a variety of pieces of music, including many of Roger's.  This was a special last concert for their conductor Walter Brisk.  Roger was invited but of course unable to be there - so he sent a video message for Walter instead.  Hopefully it worked ok!

Angel Voices in Chesham

On the same day, Annie travelled to Chesham in Buckinghamshire for Angel Voices in a day.  Annie wouldn't normally undertake such a huge musical in a day, but she had been reassured the singers would have had a taster beforehand!

This was a very special day in that the organiser, Sue, had managed to make sure that not only was there a large choir, there was also a very big orchestra - they filled the main area of the church and all audience had to go in the balcony or around the sides!

Annie took with her a large team to help, including soloists Sarah, Amy, Catherine, Richard and Jonathan, as well as instrumentalists Debbie, Lewis, Cliff and supporters Jenny, Susan and Julie.  The day was massively hard work for Annie, but also incredibly rewarding.

Huge thanks go to Sue and all in Chesham for their hard work.

Songs of Christmas arrives!

In the week following Macclesfield and Chesham, the music book and CD for Songs of Christmas finally arrived in the CMM Office.  Tim had his work cut out sending out all of the pre-orders.

Roger managed to visit some of the children who sang on the CD, and even presented a few of them with their CDs in their school assembly!

Follow 2016

Our main event in July was at the DeMontfort Hall in Leicester, and was Follow 2016 - a special day organised by the Lay Readers Association to celebrate 150 years.  It was a real honour to be involved alongside other notable speakers and worship leaders such as Pete James and Paula Gooder.

The day began incredibly early for Roger, Annie, Helen, Devon and Tim, who travelled to the hall ready to set up the exhibition stand and to be on stage for a sound check at 7.30am!  Sadly the technicians weren't so early and our sound check ended up at 8.30am...

Then after a breakfast sandwich from one of the stalls, the CMM team and the rest of the public arrived ready for the opening worship at 10am.

CMM led a Worship Works session in the marquee (it's very tricky to fit a whole day of teaching into 45 minutes...) and then led a quick rehearsal for Barnabas teaching the choruses from the songs (also in 45 minutes!).

Then in the afternoon we took this scratch choir on to stage, plus all of the soloists from the CD and instrumentalists Helen, Annie and Kevin.  It was so helpful having choir stewards Eddie and Jenny in support.  It was great performing on such a magnificent stage again, and the performance went remarkably well.

Meanwhile Tim and Nicky did a great job on the exhibition stand, chatting to people and selling plenty of products.  Thanks to everyone for your help on the day.

Barnabas in Hull

Just two days after the tiring day in Leicester, Roger, Helen and Devon travelled up to Hull along with Sarah, Chris and Richard (Barrie was already there!).  It has always been so helpful that the choirs in Hull have been willing to go for a midweek performance - it has meant that we could slot them into our schedule more easily.

This time the team headed straight to St Mary's Church in Beverley for a rehearsal with the choir on the Monday night.  The venue really is quite magnificent, but huge old churches like this can pose a slight problem for sound technicians!  Stuart did a brilliant job somehow squeezing the equipment in, and it was great to see him again having worked with him in the past.

Sarah was reprising her role as Rhoda from the Macclesfield performance, and this time was joined by Helen as Miriam.  Devon and Richard stuck to their regular roles as Saul and John Mark, but this time Barrie who has often played John Mark in the past had to switch to the part of Barnabas.  He did a great job.  Chris supported on his wonderful multitude of clarinets and saxophones!

The Tuesday was a day of rest for Roger, and Richard headed home for a day in the office, but the rest of the team travelled over to Bridlington and Flamborough head for a beautiful day out in incredibly hot weather.  Thanks so much to Barrie for organising that one.  Possibly the best fish and chips ever (when the seagulls weren't stealing it), and loads of seals were basking and playing off the coastline.

That evening was the performance in Beverley, which went very well and had a really good audience.  Local choir member Carol had done an excellent job advertising and organising, and there was a brilliant atmosphere afterwards over refreshments.

The following day the team had another relaxing day out, this time including Richard, at Hornsea Mere, where there just happened to be a putting green.  Then after dinner wonderfully prepared by Liz there was a rehearsal and production at Willerby Methodist.  Once again there was a fabulous audience, and the choir really were excellent - despite the incredible heat.

Thanks so much to Barrie, Phil, Liz, Carol, Vicky, Jean and all in the greater Hull area for their amazing hard work and support.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

CMM in action: June 2016

Beginning with the music week at Abbot Hall, June was a particularly busy month here at CMM, with plenty of Barnabas productions as well as other musical-in-a-day events.  And at the same time we were working hard behind the scenes trying to get the Songs of Christmas recording and music book ready for release.  God has been very good to us!

First though, the exciting June news - while Roger and Mary were on holiday in Scotland, Sally gave birth to Petra Jade (over a week early).  Both mother and baby are doing well, and we are so thankful for her safe arrival.  Please pray for Sally, Karl, Molly and Petra.

Barnabas in Haydock

Soloists in rehearsal at Haydock
The first Barnabas production in June was at St Mark's Church in Haydock.  In a strange way it was the return fixture for the Barrow-in-Furness production back in April, as the choirs in the different venues have a brilliant relationship and decided to join together and support each other.  We had a brilliant welcome at St Mark's, who looked after us amazingly well with their own coffee shop in the foyer.  Locals Paula and Ben Bolton-Maggs were brilliant as always - Paula with the local choir training and Ben looking after the technical side of things.

The CMM team included Carol and Sharon, both involved in training the combined choirs taking the Rhoda and Miriam parts, and then Barrie, Bill and Devon as John Mark, Barnabas and Saul.  It was also a delight to be joined by Gemma on clarinet, Helen on flute/trumpet and Jane as prayer support and dance.

The performance was really well attended and went down incredibly well.  It was brilliant to take some of the pictures and words God had given our prayer support team and share them with the choir and audience.  The Lord was really working in people's hearts.

The following morning the team led worship in Hindley for the churches together in Hindley Green area.  It was great fun to see so many from the choir and also worshippers from a variety of backgrounds and styles.  Thanks so much to all who organised the weekend.

Snakes and Ladders - CMM Choir

June saw the start of a run of productions of Snakes and Ladders by the CMM Choir.  The choir performed 6 times over June and July across the West Midlands in Kenilworth, Bournville, Redditch, Edgbaston, Erdington and Marston Green.  The soloists had worked so hard on their parts and the choir sounded fabulous.

The CMM choir is open to new members - they rehearse on Monday evenings in Harborne (with Sylvia Whalley) and on Tuesday evenings in Ward End (with Annie Routley).  Their next performances will be The Inn Crowd in December.

Barnabas in Nottinghamshire

In Mid-June it was brilliant to travel the short distance to north-west Notts to visit the home churches of our associates Carolynn and Yvette (Newthorpe Baptist Church) and also Richard Harvey (Nuthall Methodist Church).  Carolynn has regularly trained choirs to perform Roger's musicals, and this time we were able to perform twice together - once at each church within the space of a couple of days.

All of the soloists were local on this occasion (although admittedly three were CMM associates!)  Carolynn and Yvette took the Miriam and Rhoda parts, Richard had a break from his usual John-Mark role to sing the part of Saul, and they were joined by Andrew as John-Mark and Dave as Barnabas.  The soloists were also joined by a quartet of musicians - Chris on sax and clarinet, Kevin on cornet, Yvonne on flute and Helen playing the odd note on trombone.  Having the instrumentalists really added to the sense of drama!

The performance at Newthorpe was sold out, as it is quite a small venue, but they still found room to squeeze in Devon and Mick on the back row!  We always love visiting Newthorpe as 25 years ago our Jairus soloist, Keith Riley came from that church.  Sadly Keith died before the premiere of the musical, so the relationship with Newthorpe has always been so special.

At Nuthall there was a little more room for audience, choir and
soloists, and it was so lovely to be looked after by the Harvey family (fish and chips - mmm!).  Richard hosted the evening brilliantly, and there was a great crowd in the building.

Musical Man in East Anglia

Following on from Roger's hectic few days with the choir at Newthorpe and Nuthall, he and Mary travelled down to Norwich for a well-earned rest (if staying with Ruth and David Southgate can ever be seen as rest!).  It wasn't all holiday though, as on the Tuesday they travelled to Mundesley to lead a special 'Musical Man' afternoon for the Mother's Union, organised by great friends Harry and Barbara Hicks.  They even had a coach-load of visitors from another MU organisation nearby come along too!

Barnabas in Welshpool

The run of Barnabas productions in June continued with a visit to Welshpool Methodist Church, for a performance brilliantly organised by Janice Rhodes.  Over a number of years Annie has regularly visited the Welsh borders area for various musical-in-a-day events, and these have blossomed into not only a Barnabas production but also a Worship Works day last year.  It is so great to work with the folks in the area - they are such a blessing to us.

This time Roger was without the support of Helen or Annie, but he did have a fabulous CMM team - Barnabas and Saul were played by Bill and Paul; Dave and Caroline Finney took the roles of John Mark and Miriam, and Ann played Rhoda.  It was also lovely to have Felicity and Rachel come along to play clarinet and oboe/flute respectively - they are both quite new to CMM teams, and it is so good to encourage young instrumentalists in this way.

It was also a privilege to the lead the service the following morning - Bill led the service, Paul led the prayers and Roger spoke.  It is always so good to be able to share with a congregation after a musical performance - those who weren't able to come still can have a taster and hear the message.

Wildfire in Witney

While Roger was in Welshpool, Annie travelled to Witney in Oxfordshire to conduct their performances of Wildfire.  The choir has already been beautifully trained by Guy, but he was needed to take a solo role, so the Witney Inter-Church Singers invited Annie along to help.

The production really was quite special - drama, dance, soloists, choir and orchestra!  Annie really had her hands full to bring in all the different groups at the right moment.

Annie also was able to share some thoughts at the end of each performance, talking about how there is no such thing as a 'practical' person as opposed to a 'spiritual' person.  Stephen was both these things.  Well done to all who participated in or organised the event.  What an amazing witness!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Behind the scenes: Songs of Christmas

Over the last few months God has surprised Roger by inspiring him to write a collection of Christmas songs. The first stage of this was releasing some sheet music just before Christmas, but the songs have grown and gradually been brought into a collection.

This will be a songbook and CD, containing a mixture of congregational songs in unison, 2 part, 3 part and 4 part anthems.

The track list is as follows:
1. Angels from the realms of glory (SATB)
2. At last we see before our eyes (unison)
3. Behold the great creator (SATB)
4. Celebrate!  For now we see him! (SATB)
5. For to us a child is born (SATB - from the Inn Crowd)
6. Hark, the glad sound (Two parts)
7. It came upon the midnight clear (SAB)
8. O little town of Bethlehem (SATB - from Simeon)
9. Once in royal David's city (unison)
10. On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry (SATB)
11. The Word became flesh (SATB - from Barnabas)
12. To us a child of royal birth (SAA or SAB)
13. Unto us a boy is born (mostly two parts)
14. We sing the song of Christmas (unison)
15. When our God came to earth (two parts)
16. Bonus track - Lord, I want to stop Christmas (two parts)

We've put together some teaser videos for you have a look at - a bit of a preview of some of the new additions to this collections.

Teaser 1 - When our God came to earth, Behold the great creator, Unto us a boy is born

Teaser 2 - At last we see before our eyes, Lord I want to stop Christmas

Teaser 3 - We sing the song of Christmas, Once in Royal David's City

We've been really blessed to have some lovely endorsements:

As soon as you listen to these songs, you feel safe in their sweetness, honesty and melody. They reflect the heart of Roger perfectly. A gentle spirit with a passion for healing and revival, through real people, the real church, a fellowship of grass roots believers, who share a common desire to rest in the grace of a loving God - despite their own circumstances and self confessed inadequacies. I am extremely happy to endorse this work, and hope and pray, as Roger does, that it will be used by God to touch hearts, enhance the real meaning of Christmas, and bring us all together in unity. Keep up the good work Roger.  Christmas is a time to slow down, gather memories and treasure them, and re-connect with a loving God who is waiting to have relationship with us, his children, as much now as ever before.
Chris Eaton, songwriter, father, husband, believer

This album follows in the best of Roger Jones’ music and is refreshingly new and nicely different. He takes many of the traditional Christmas hymns and carols and remodels them delightfully. They are ideal for use in schools as well as in church and will have a wide appeal. There is a good blend of quieter and more vigorous tunes that suit the theme and this adds to the flexibility of their use. I welcome and warmly commend this album.
Bishop Michael Whinney

Christmas has always been associated with singing, ever since Mary first opened her mouth to sing, 'My soul magnifies the Lord!', and the angels first opened theirs to proclaim 'Glory to God in the highest!' In this great selection of songs for Christmas, Roger Jones and his friends have provided us with some excellent new resources for the festive season, taking traditional words and giving them contemporary settings. Much recommended.
Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford

Christmas is a great mission opportunity for local churches to reach out to their neighbourhood and carol singing and carol services are often an important part of that outreach. Songs of Christmas by Roger Jones offers new and accessible resources to enrich our singing of the Christmas story and our celebrating Immanuel, God with us.  Here is something for everyone: new tunes to traditional carols, new songs which draw us into worship and some simple arrangements which pack a big punch. ‘Hark the glad sound’ offers a great new alternative tune to Philip Doddridge’s classic Advent hymn, and ‘The Word became flesh’ is a powerful setting of the prologue to John’s gospel. My particular favourite is ‘Behold the great creator makes himself a house of clay’ – a moving tune to a stunning set of words on the mystery of the incarnation and our response in worship and adoration.  A great resource which will enrich the worship and mission of the local church! 
Chris Ellis, author and teacher on worship and former President of the Baptist Union of GB

If you’re looking for something fresh to sing at Christmas, look no further! Here is exciting new material from the prolific pen of Roger Jones providing choirs, worship groups and congregations with a diverse collection of music for Advent and Christmas. New settings of traditional carols, a couple of Christmas pieces from Roger’s earlier musicals and a wealth of brand new carols and songs provide widely varied resources suitable for solo, congregational, two-part or SATB choirs.  Accompaniments range from worship band to piano and organ and all the material is marked by Roger’s renowned inimitable tunefulness and singability.  I warmly welcome this publication and hope that it will be widely used to celebrate the wonder of the Word made flesh.  
The Rev Brian Hoare, former President of the Methodist Conference, hymnwriter, author and composer

In this collection Roger Jones sets a variety of texts, some familiar, some new in a variety of styles, always sensitive to the mood of the text. As always with Roger's music, the music is accessible, with a feel for memorable melody, and often with gently pulsing rhythms. Adult groups will enjoy the songs - but many of them will be very suitable for use with children.  
Geoff Weaver, Royal School of Church Music (RSCM)

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Grange Music Week

The other event that happened right at the end of May and into the beginning of June was our first Barnabas Music Week of the year - at Abbot Hall near Grange-over-Sands.  Have a look at this video to see the highlights!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

CMM in action: May 2016

We've had a manic May here at CMM - loads of different events and a few things behind the scenes.  For this CMM in action blog post you can read about all of the events we have led and the places we have visited.  Details of our exciting project behind the scenes will come on a future blog post.

Barnabas taster in Macclesfield

Way back in early May Roger and Mary took an evening out to go and visit the choir in Macclesfield as they prepare for their Barnabas performance in July.  In the past when there used to be a nationwide tour for each musical, Roger would sometimes visit each choir twice in advance - firstly for a 'taster' to introduce Church leaders and potential singers to the musical.  Then as the performance approached there would be a Pre-Visit, which took the form of a fun rehearsal with Roger and some of the soloists - Roger always says that he would have written the musicals for the Pre-Visits alone!

This particular visit was half-way between a taster and a Pre-Visit, with loads of time after the visit for the choir to really get stuck into working on the musical.  It was also great fun - Roger and Mary were brilliantly looked after by Wendy in Macclesfield, and the choir were coming on excellently.  Poppy was also a special guest for the evening, sitting quietly at the back.

The other significance of the evening was the location - All Saints, Brough Street West.  Roger has been to this church on so many occasions, but it was only on this visit that he realised it was here that he held his first ever CMM weekend after going full time in ministry, 30 years ago.

We look forward to the performance - 2nd July, 7.30pm at Park Green United Reformed Church.  Tickets are £5 and available from Macclesfield CMM Choir members or from 'The Hope Centre, Park Gree.'  Further details available from macc.cmm@ntlworld.com or 07702 376937.

Barnabas in Kidderminster

The first full performance of Barnabas in May was at Trinity Methodist Church in Kidderminster.  Roger and Annie were accompanied by a CMM team comprising of Christine, Ann, Amy, Richard H, Richard A, Devon and Christine.  It was Richard A's first time as part of the Barnabas cast, and we were delighted to have him on the team.

The whole day was incredibly special for the New Life Together Choir in Kidderminster, as it was their 30th Anniversary as a choir. We have been privileged to have the wonderful support of this choir over the years, and they have taken part in so many of the musical tours.

We had this lovely message from the choir:

Just wanted to say a very big 'thank you' for coming and leading us at Trinity at Kidderminster!
We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves presenting Barnabas and it was really great to be working with you and the CMM team again.
The audience also seemed to thoroughly enjoy the musical and we have had a lot of very positive comments about the presentation - many wanting to know when we are doing it again!

Angel Voices in Whitwick

Annie had a very busy weekend, as the very next day she travelled to Whitwick in Leicestershire for a special CMM Choir performance of Angel Voices.  The choir first learned Angel Voices for a run of performances last year, and since then they have had a number of invitations to take it further afield.  This invitation came from a lady who had seen their performance at the Roman Catholic Charismatic Conference last summer.
Everyone who took part or watched felt that this performance at Whitwick was particularly powerful.  Annie received this email in response:

Dear Annie
Just want to say a huge thank you to you and the choir for the wonderful experience of Sunday.We felt so privileged to have experienced the Lord Praised so wonderfully in our Beautiful Church. It was an hour and a half of pure joy. From the bottom of my heart I thank you all.
May God Bless you all and continue to shed His glorious light on you all and those you love.
Love In Christ Jesus. Anne

Pentecost in Bognor Regis

Over the years Roger has built up a lovely connection with Aldwick Baptist Church in Bognor Regis.  He has a number of friends in the church, and has regularly visited, taking part in Sunday services and leading workshops for the music group.  

This year Roger was invited to preach at their anniversary weekend (which also happened to be Pentecost) and to lead a music group workshop on the afternoon beforehand.  He was joined not only by Mary, but also by Sarah and Val, who were a great help both musically and spiritually.  The weekend was great fun, and Roger felt at liberty to take a bit of a risk in his preaching - using the Pentecost theme to talk about speaking in tongues.

It was also Roger's birthday, so he was duly presented with a lovely cake, which we are still finishing off here in the office!

Annual Trust Dinner

May also held the wonderful annual event which is the CMM Trust Dinner (formerly the EBRG Trust Dinner).  It was wonderful to gather together a number of our supporters who are fairly local to the West Midlands and to share in a meal together.  

Roger gave his 'State of the Union' address, and Geoff shared some exciting news about the change of the name of the trust from EBRG Trust to CMM Trust.

Barnabas in Brixham

The following weekend the CMM team was split in two - Roger and Helen travelled down to Brixham near Torquay, and Annie travelled north to Eccleshall.  
The event at Fore Street Methodist Church, Brixham, had been in the diary since 2010!  The church were celebrating their 200th anniversary with a year of events, and a musical performance with CMM was something that had been long anticipated and looked forward to.

The CMM team for the weekend was Marilyn, Catherine, Helen, Barrie, Bill and Bob.  It was quite fun having the 3 Bs playing the roles of John Mark, Barnabas and Saul!  The team had a wonderful time working with the choir (made up of some Brixham folk who had had some rehearsals, a group from Yeovil, and a handful of other singers), with rehearsals for most of Saturday ahead of the performance on Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday morning the team led the morning service - Helen led the service and Roger preached, with contributions from the other team members.  Bill wasn't able to be part of the service as he had travelled home due to grandchild number 4 being born over the weekend.  

The performance was a terrific success - the minister at the church gave the performers and audience a hilarious and enthusiastic welcome, and the downstairs was very full, with some people even sitting in the balcony.

We had a lovely message from Kathryn, the amazing local organiser:

'Thank you' seems very inadequate to tell you how we feel after your weekend with us here in Brixham! Everyone has been thrilled, inspired, encouraged and uplifted by your presence with us. The Spirit was certainly at work throughout the weekend and we certainly hope that Brixham Methodist Church will never be quite the same again!!!
You will be much in our thoughts and prayers as you continue your wonderful ministry - be encouraged - you are doing an amazing work! Thank you!

Saints Alive in Eccleshall

Just as Roger and Helen finished their performance of Barnabas in Brixham, it was time for Annie to begin conducting Saints Alive!  

The Saints Alive Singers at Holy Trinity Eccleshall have been singing together for a number of years, and have regularly had visits from Annie and Helen to hold musical-in-a-day performances.  This time they were celebrating their 30th Anniversary and to celebrate they wanted to dedicate an evening service to a performance of the musical they had first learned together - Saints Alive.

Annie travelled up with helpers Jenny and Susan ready for a lovely lunch with the choir, and began rehearsals with the choir and local soloists.  Midway through the afternoon they were joined by Tim on drums and Michael on guitar, who worked alongside the local pianist, flautist and clarinettist to form wonderful band.

One of the exciting parts of the event was Annie being able to share some of the words of knowledge the EBRG housegroup had felt they had heard from God ahead of the day.  Several of the words were claimed, and a number of people were hugely encouraged by God's care for them.

It has always been a delight to visit the group in Eccleshall - long may it continue!  In her letter to CMM after the event, Hazel said that one of the adjectives used over and over again to describe the day was 'uplifting'.  Praise God, and well done to Annie and team.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

CMM in Action: April 2016

April started off a little sadly for CMM.  Overnight on Good Friday the organist at Helen's church, Margaret Dawson, passed away aged 94.  Of course this was sad for Helen and all at Saltley Methodist, but there was a further link to the ministry in that way back in the late 1950s Margaret had taught Roger to play piano.  She was an excellent musician, and even composed music herself for the church choir and special services.

Jerusalem Joy in Hinckley

Phil, Paul, Alan and Eddie
On the Sunday after Easter, Roger took a team to Hinckley Methodist Church to lead a Jerusalem Joy day.  The team was mostly made up of instrumentalists, as many of the small solo roles were to be taken by local choir members.  The live band comprised of Phil Parkin (piano), Paul Herrington (keyboards), Ellen Rudge (trumpet), Amy Carter (clarinet and cello), Rachel Haddon (flute and oboe) and Alan Smith (drums).  As well as this amazing band, Simon Cooper took on the singing role of Jesus and Eddie Smith sang Pilot.  It was great having Jenny, Eddie's wife, taking part as well.

The choir with Simon
Simon is a former member of this church, and his sister Rachel was organising the day.  Before rehearsals began, there had been a coffee morning in the church raising money for Simon's mission organisation, Refreshment UK.

Amy working hard with the choir
The choir did a terrific job - they had had a couple of rehearsals in advance, but then Roger and Amy worked with them some more during the day.  The performance itself was really great fun - a wonderful big audience and a very powerful message.  It was also fantastic using the new edition of the scores, including the new final song, Christ is Alive, with words by Chris Ellis.  This song first appeared in the Roger Jones Hymn Collection back in 1999, but we do not often hear of its use.  It is great to know that it will now be accessible to a greater number of people.
The choir in rehearsal
Rachel and Ellen
Roger in action

Musical Man Evening, Lickey

Annie rehearsing with the choir
The very next day after Hinckley, there was a very special evening organised at Roger and Mary's Church, Lickey Parish Church.  Since Graham Allan's biography of Roger was published a year ago, we have been able to hold various evenings called 'Musical Man', where Roger shares some testimony, interspersed with songs from different musicals.  The Lickey social committee decided they wanted to hold one, so Roger took this opportunity to gather together soloists and instrumentalists from both CMM and Lickey Church, as well as the CMM Choir (who took up half of the church!).

Annie conducted the choir, and Helen interviewed Roger, and Roger, as well as talking about his story, was able to share very deeply about certain areas such as prayer ministry he had received from Wholeness through Christ, and grief.

It was an incredibly moving and powerful evening, and we are so thankful to all of those who played and sang.  We are also incredibly thankful for the hard work that Alison and Clive Rushton put into the evening, and the support of Roger's vicar Margaret.

More photos to follow!

Songs of Christmas

Roger and Margaret
Another highlight of April was heading back into the studio to record some of Roger's brand new Christmas songs.  Earlier in the month Roger had spent an afternoon with Helen and long-standing friend Margaret, specially to focus on two tracks - one solo for Helen to sing, and the other for Margaret to play an organ part.  The producer, Chris King, had managed to download samples from the Vienna Concert Hall Organ, which sound particularly spectacular.  On the Monday after Musical Man, Roger, Dave, Annie, Katie, Amy and Helen spent an afternoon at Chris' recording solos, unison work, descants and any songs that were just ladies.  Amy, Annie and Helen also put down some clarinet, viola and flute respectively.

Dave recording his solo
Then later in the evening Jemma and Russ came to the studio.  They are from Sally's church, Zion, in Halesowen, and both young, terrific singers who have added some wonderful lively vocals to two of the tracks.

Annie, Helen, Amy and Katie
The next day it was all hands to the deck as the harmony group came into the studio to fill in all of the choral sections.  The group was directed by Helen, and comprised of Katie and Catherine on sop, Annie and Sarah on alto, Dave and Chris on tenor, and Paul and Phil on bass.  The group are always such a pleasure to work with, and they made a wonderful sound together.
Dave, Chris, Paul and Phil
Annie, Sarah, Catherine and Katie
Helen directing the vocal group

Barnabas in Barrow
Alan, Bill, Sharon and Carol

Naturally, Roger took a lot of time off for the rest of the week, because by the end of it he had to travel up to Cumbria for a performance of Barnabas in Barrow-in-Furness.

Over the last few years, a wonderful friendship has sprung up between the choir in Barrow, and another choir in the St Helens/Haydock/Wigan area.  This has resulted in a choral exchange - the choir in Merseyside travelling up to Barrow for their performance, and the Barrow choir will travel to Haydock in June.

Marilyn and Gemma
Roger's team included Sharon and Carol, who are CMM associates from those two choirs taking the lead female solos, and then Bill, Barrie and Alan on the male roles, and Marilyn and Gemma providing instrumental support.  Marilyn also assisted Roger with the choir training.

Barrie and the sopranos
The performance was really very excellent, and was only spoiled by Barrie suffering from a fall in the car park afterwards, breaking his hand and damaging his teeth and lips.  Thankfully Barrie was looked after extremely well, and is now recovering.

The amazing dancers - in a boat!
The following morning the team took the morning service at Abbey Road Baptist Church.  Roger was on wonderful form, really feeling God's anointing to preach.

It is such an honour to be able to meet and contribute to the lives of all of these wonderful choir members.  Huge thanks go to Sharon and her team for their excellent organisation, and to all who looked after the team so well.

Three men in a boat!
The full ensemble at St Mark's Church
Marilyn working with the choir
Amazing choir expressions!
A photo of Roger to prove he did something that day!

Mary Magdalene in West Hill, near Ottery St Mary

The choir in rehearsal in West Hill
The following weekend Helen and Annie were due to travel down to South Devon for a special Mary Magdalene weekend.  Sadly Helen wasn't very well, so Annie had to go on her own.  But she was not completely alone because the local organisers were friends from Lee Abbey - Sheila and Jim, and there were at least six Lee Abbey friends among the choir.

Sheila and Jim had put together an amazing group of soloists, several of whom were professional singers.  Sheila had also trained a group of children to dance during the instrumental piece 'Delivered', for which Jim played piano.

Annie had a wonderful time in Devon - the choir were excellent, and her main problem was coaxing them into being confident with the backing track.  Encouragement is a gift that Annie has in bucket-loads though, and everyone was very happy in time for the performance.

As Helen was supposed to be helping with the sound system, Jonathan very, very kindly volunteered to bring down his system for the performance, and he arrived after lunch on the Sunday ready to set up.  The performance was in the evening, and the church was completely packed out.

Huge thanks to Sheila and Jim, and we hope you enjoyed your well-earned recovery cruise!

Women's World Day of Prayer Conference, Northampton

The busy month of April was rounded off by Helen's weekend in Northampton.  For the first time ever, the Women's World Day of Prayer committee in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had decided to hold a special young women's conference.  The committee had heard about Helen as a worship leader following a Worship Works day in St Austell a couple of years ago, and the dates had been in the diary ever since then.

Being named as the keynote worship leader was a little scary, but Helen had a fabulous weekend.  There were 35 women present, and all were passionate about Jesus, prayer, and campaigning for women's causes around the world.  The keynote speaker was Ulrike Bechmann, a German academic theologian who currently works at the university of Gratz in Austria.  Her thoughts on next year's WWDP reading (the parable of the workers in the vineyard) were incredibly deep and thought-provoking.

Helen was able to include teaching on coming into the Most Holy Place in worship, as well as some thoughts about prophetic worship.  One of the other real joys was being able to sing over the women using songs such as Precious and Honoured and words given by God for the occasion.

If the committee decide to hold a similar conference in future, it is highly recommended!