Playlist – Jackie Bowie
Parish Playlist #6
Parish Playlist #6 – Jackie Bowie, St Barnabas Choir member
1. God So Loved the World – Stainer
Stainer`s God So Loved the World, which St Barnabas choir sang before the Lockdown, always transports me to Blendworth Church in Hampshire, where I first remember singing it as one of a handful of choristers, bundled up in billowing surplices and heavy cassocks. Click here.
2. The Day Thou Gavest –
We wore the same attire in my next parish choir, where it was even more impractical as Holy Trinity, Sliema was in Malta where my father was posted for two years when I was nine years old. My middle brother, Andrew  and I were dispatched to choir practices and services on a Sunday, sometimes in temperatures up to 100 degrees and, of course, I fainted dramatically on three occasions. However, I loved the singing and it is “The Day Though Gavest, Lord, is Ended” by Reverend John Ellerton [1826 to 1893] which captured my imagination:
“As o`er each continent and island,
The dawn leads on another day
The voice of prayer is never silent
Nor dies the strain of praise away”
“The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren `neath the Western sky
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high”
We first lived in Sliema, near Valletta with its magnificent harbour sheltering ships from all over the world . Our school, RN Verdala had a constantly changing, population as children arrived from such exotic sounding locations as Cyprus, Gibraltar, Belize and Hong Kong. I grew up with a sense of the vastness of the world we lived in and a keen desire to explore it. Click here.
3. Easter Hymn – Mascagni
Amongst all the musical experiences offered at school,in Malta, we staged an original musical each year, written by our dynamic music teacher with the amazing name of Mr Why, entered music festivals and even appeared on Malta Television. At home we played recorders and melodicas or accordiettas, relentlessly[ yes, Riccardo] and listened to a few records borrowed from Sliema library, of which Cavalleria Rusticana, featuring Maria Callas was my parents` favourite. They would play the Easter Hymn, loudly ,on Easter Sunday morning wherever we were posted from then on.. It was therefore thrilling to be able to sing that chorus with St Barnabas, featuring our own star choristers, in lockdown for Easter Sunday 2020. Click here.
4. Requiem [How lovely are thy dwellings fair] – Brahms and Elijah [Lift Thine Eyes] – Mendelssohn
Our final house move and my eighth school, Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Girls, provided even more opportunities for music, thanks to our exacting and inspiring Head of Music, Miss Mortimor. From my choral experiences of that period the most memorable were from the Brahms Requiem [ How lovely are thy dwellings fair] and Mendelssohn`s Elijah[ Lift thine eyes] and a performance of the St Matthew Passion, with Tunbridge Wells Choral Society on the night of our first French exchange trip by coach to Nancy. That journey led to a life – long love of France, French culture and learning languages. Brahms Click here. Mendelssohn Click here.
5. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel
Music of that early teenage period outside school was key, of course and it is difficult to choose, but I must include Simon and Garfunkel and the music and lyrics continue to bring comfort to many today: Click here.
6. Hymns of Heaven and Earth – St Clement’s Choir
While studying French at Royal Holloway, London, I remember Susan Bullock singing solos with our Choral Soc. which, together with the Chapel Choir, celebrated St Cecilia`s Day each year with a grand banquet. One of my favourite anthems at St Barnabas is without question the following as it expresses the sheer joy of singing together. Click here.
7. Steal Away (Tippett) – Genesis Sixteen and Requiem – Duruflé
I had learnt that singing brings joy and friendship anywhere in the world so I joined La Chorale de Bourges during my year of teaching and studying in France. Going to the Cafe Cujas afterwards was a lot of fun, too, and, as well as the French repertoire, we memorably sang arrangements of Spirituals in the magnificent cathedral. Genesis Sixteen Click here. Duruflé Click here.
8. Christmas Oratorio – Bach
I was equally surprised to find myself singing The Mozart Requiem and the Christmas Oratorio with the Quodlibet Chorus in the Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan while teaching and volunteering there with CMS, following my PGCE course. Learning and sometimes singing in Japanese was far more challenging than learning French or Italian, but it is a beautiful language to sing in and the standard of singing the highest I had met so far. Understanding precise instructions was tricky and I managed to lead the entire choir off the stage through the orchestra pit at one concert interval.There were challenging and lonely times in Japan, too and singing Bach truly lifted my spirits.
9. Treasures of Early Church Music – The Cambridge Singers directed by John Rutter
After those two years in Japan, many years of teaching in London schools left little time for choirs and choral music until I met my husband, Duncan who invited me to the Spitalfields festival where I discovered Early Music which he loves.
10. Gloria in Excelsis – Vivaldi, sung by The Sixteen
We also listened to the music of Vivaldi, in particular the Gloria ,which the choir sang at our wedding in All Saints Crowborough, where I grew up as a teenager. It does not lose its excitement every time we sing it now:
11. Siyahamba – Zulu Traditional Folksong – Angel City Chorale and the Amy Foundation Choir
We shall never forget the warm welcome of the Copleston Centre church, led by Reverend Cecil Heatley [later supported by a keen young curate, Dianna Hartley] and our young children had a lot of fun, not least singing and marching around the neighbourhood on Palm Sunday, led by Cecil and his guitar:
12. Ave Verum Corpus – Byrd
And then, our move to Dulwich and St Barnabas… What can I say? I remember on my first Sunday in the congregation some 17 years ago, sitting next to a friendly young woman with a strong alto voice. No sooner had we turned to each other and acknowledged we were both singers and wanted to join “ that choir”, Loretta marched me up to Clare Stevens, then choir secretary, and we were in! Then began a very steep learning curve, under William`s energetic direction and with Clare`s assistance. I never imagined singing in a choir could be so much fun and lead to such enduring friendships and faith. It is difficult to choose favourites from the vast repertoire, but it would have to include music from the wonderful choir tours, including the Byrd which we sang round Bach`s grave in Leipzig:
13. I Was Glad – Hubert Parry, played by the Gabrieli Consort & Players
Looking forward to the future with St Barnabas, I believe we shall be able to celebrate our reunion one day by singing the following with renewed feeling