The first few weeks of this new year have reminded me of how time flies. It brings back odd memories of my Latin class at school: ‘Meanwhile it is flying, irretrievable time is flying’ (Virgil). And I was beginning to think it was just my age!
A quick glance back!
Christmas services went well and were certainly well attended. The nave was very nearly filled on Christmas Eve and the numbers of worshippers attending services on the morning of both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day (when extra seating had to be brought into the Quire) ensured a very warm and worshipful atmosphere. And now – the work of the congregation continues in earnest. The children attending our Sunday Clubs participated in another Christingle Service held in the light of the Christmas Tree and candles. A firm favourite of children and adults alike, this has become a very popular service held before decorations are removed from the church. Members of the Guild then gathered in the Quire to begin the second half of their session with a short celebration of Holy Communion. They begin activities in their 126th year looking forward to making their own special contribution to both the life of our own congregation and the projects undertaken by their national administration.
Throughout all the special services leading up through Advent and Christmas and over the New Year, the congregation has been enormously indebted to Peter McLean for deputising at the organ. Peter generously offered his services when our organist Ian Handley sadly had to retire owing to illhealth. Ian is a hard act to follow. An excellent musician and talented organist and composer, he had also become a good friend to many of us. We will miss him; wish him good health and hope that should Ian feel able to return to an organ console before long, our loss at Bothwell may, eventually, become another congregation’s gain. As it happened, over the period of vacancy, Peter fulfilled well the task of directing the choir and playing during services on Sundays as well as for funerals and weddings. We are so fortunate to have such a talented musician as a chorister and hope he will continue to allow us the pleasure both of his singing voice and his musical ability for a long time to come.
The vacancy for an Organist/ Director of church Music has now been filled with the induction of Mr Phil Hotham. Phil comes to us with a very high reputation both as an organist and choral conductor. A retired Headteacher in Manchester, Phil brings a wealth of musical talent as an organist, composer and choir director as well as a obvious enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, liturgical music. In welcoming him to his post, we look forward to a long and happy association working and worshipping together.
Looking forward into 2012 ..
Most immediately and, also, perhaps most evidently, will be the commencement of essential restoration work within the church Quire. This is due around the end of February. Not that the congregation will actually see too much of the work being done since a screen will be erected cutting off the Quire from the Crossing and Nave. In preparation, arrangements are being made for all the contents of the Quire to be removed to the safety of storage. Once work begins, a sprung corbel will be repaired high up on the south wall and tie-bars will be installed across the Quire, between the north and south walls, halting the chance of further movement. Investigative work will then be undertaken to determine the external condition of the Quire roof and its internal timbers etc. The architect has advised that this ‘first phase’ of work could possibly take four/ five months. Thereafter, findings will be analysed and the extent of work comprising ‘the main phase’ will be determined and costed. Work will only commence on that phase once the finance required has been obtained. We are fortunate in having substantial, proven, professional and management expertise in the members of the congregation and others comprising the Restoration Working Group and, so, we thankfully place our trust in their abilities to ensure the successful completion of this considerable project.
Meanwhile, the ordinary everyday work of the congregation and demands of the community we serve continue. Holy Week and Easter will be upon us before we know it and, then, its on to summer. What was that about time flying ?