Adams, Thomas - Ave Maria

public domainfor two voices Soprano and Contralto + Pianoforte or Organ Accompaniment

year of composition / 1st publication: c1893

No composer photo available

Composer: Thomas Adams  (1857-1918)
Country of origin / activity: U.K. (England)
Text author:  N/A 
Arranger / Editor: N/A 

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Internet references, biography information:

The Musical times, Volume 34 By JSTOR (1893)
Organist and Choirmaster of St Alban's Holborn EC 
AVE MARIA For two voices Soprano and Contralto Pianoforte or Organ Accompaniment
Copy of each of the above post free for 3s 6d Address as above.
Thomas Adams, FRCO (1857-1918), noted English composer, was Organist at the Parish Church of Saint Alban the Martyr in Holborn (London) from 1888 until his death. A prolific composer of anthems, oratorios and organ music, his published work (mainly by Novello) includes the oratorio The Story of Calvary and The Holy Child.
Thomas Adams, FRCO, Organist June 1888 - Nov 1918

For thirty years Thomas Adams was St. Alban's organist, the longest serving of our organists by more than ten years. Indeed, he did not give up the position but, sadly, died in post. He was a prolific composer of anthems, oratorios and organ music, much of which was published, mainly by Novello. His music was very popular with the St. Alban's congregation, in particular the cantata Mater Christi, a setting of words compiled by Fr. Stanton. Recordings of two of his organ pieces are available on CD, and his anthems are still to be found in second-hand bookshops. We have single copies of a few of Adams' anthems and Mater Christi in St. Alban's archive, and we still sing his tune for the Christmas hymn O little Town of Bethlehem. In April 2000, we received a letter from a singer in Buxton, Derbyshire, where local choirs were rehearsing Thomas Adams' oratorio The Story of Calvary for performance on Good Friday. Their conductor had asked his singers to find out anything they could about the composer (to form a programme note) and, knowing Adams to have been our organist, she wrote to us. Similarly, during Lent 2005, we received a request for information about Adams from the Tibberton Singers, Worcestershire, who were rehearsing The Story of Calvary for performance on Maundy Thursday. (Their copies, incidentally, had been borrowed from the Surrey County Library, and had been lent to choirs in various parts of the country recently.) There was little that we could tell these choirs, and little that I can tell you. I can't tell you where and with whom Thomas Adams trained, what posts he held prior to his appointment at St. Alban's, nor anything about the sort of person he was. We do not have a picture of him, for all the thirty years he spent at St. Alban's. (That said, he must be on those grainy photographs of Fr. Stanton's funeral procession. The choir is clearly visible, and he must be amongst them!) But whilst I cannot paint a portrait of Thomas Adams the man, I hope by quoting from the Parish Paper to be able to give you a flavour of the times, and the musical life of St. Alban's that accompanied it. The authorship of many quotes has to be guessed, but you will find an obituary for Henry Willis written by Thomas Adams himself.

During Thomas Adams' tenure, much happened of national and international importance: the Boer War, World War I, the sinking of the Titanic, the death of Queen Victoria, the coronation and the death of Edward VII, the Russian revolution are all chronicled in the Parish Paper. There were many events of importance in the life of St. Alban's too, such as the building of the Mackonochie Chapel; the building of the Henry Willis organ; the death of Fr. Stanton and the building of the Stanton memorial; the deaths of William Butterfield and Henry Willis. The dying embers of the type of persecution suffered by Fr. Mackonochie in the early years of St. Alban's were seen in 1898 when the Bishop of London required the singing of the gradual to be discontinued and antiphons to be omitted at Evensong.

In the music world at large, this was a very creative period. To name just a few of the composers active then who are now household names, Bruckner and Brahms were still active, living till 1896 and 1897 respectively; Dvorak wrote his Stabat Mater in 1876 and the chorus Eia Mater (Blessed Jesu) was performed at St. Alban's within 20 years. Elgar and Vaughan Williams wrote some of their best music during this period, virtually all of Elgar's being composed before the First World War. Vaughan Williams composed On Wenlock Edge in 1909, the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis and the Sea Symphony in 1910, and Five Mystical Songs in 1911! Stravinsky was born in 1882, and the famous first performance of The Rite of Spring took place in Paris in 1913.

It is clear from contemporary reports that St. Alban's was often packed to capacity (800 - 1,000), with tickets being issued to regular members of the congregation for major festivals to ensure they would have a seat. Yet the money to pay for the music that the congregation wanted and expected was often not forthcoming; raising it was an ongoing headache, as you will see.

Thomas Adams' first service as the new organist, succeeding George Samson, was the Patronal Festival, June 22nd 1888. Fr. Suckling (St. Alban's second vicar, in post from 1882) informed the congregation that ‘Mr. Thomas Adams, F.C.O., has been appointed Organist. He is highly recommended to us by Dr. Bridge and Sir Henry Selwin Ibbotson.' Initially Adams was not responsible for training the choir (the Precentor undertook this) but the post of organist involved a heavy schedule of commitments. There was Choral Evensong and Benediction every Sunday in addition to Masses at 9.30 and 11 o'clock; Evensong was sung on several weekdays and a Solemn High Mass on a great many Saints' Days. The records show that the Credo was sung to the Mass setting of the day, rather than a congregational setting such as Merbecke, although a plainsong Gloria was occasionally used. It was common practice to mix up to three settings in the course of one Mass: Kyrie setting A; Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus & Agnus Dei setting B; Gloria, setting C.

A list of music performed at St. Alban's under Thomas Adams is available on our website, Despite a significant number of Latin titles, the indications are that everything was sung in English. In addition to a large number of motets composed by Adams, the list includes many choruses and arias from Mendelssohn's and Handel's oratorios. There are Masses by Mozart, Schubert, Gounod, Hummel, and Cherubini, to name some of the better known. There are comparatively few polyphonic settings, and it seems likely that these were used only in Advent and Lent. Works introduced to the repertoire by Adams included Rheinberger's Mass in E (first performed in January 1910) and Weber's Jubel-Messe (Jubilee Mass) Op.76, possibly performed to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The Rheinberger Mass was re-introduced to our repertoire in 2004, and Weber's Jubel-Messe in 2002, Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee year. Six Gounod Masses were performed in Thomas Adam's day, and many of them have fallen into obscurity. Apart from his St. Cecilia Mass, it is a rare thing today to hear a Mass by Gounod. However at St. Alban's we have recently re-introduced the Messe de Pâques, and Messe Sacré Cœur, and our present Director of Music, Edward Batting, is planning to re-introduce the Messe des Orphéonistes. We suspect that no other church choir in Britain is performing this repertoire at present. But enough of that - let us return to our story of Thomas Adam's early years at St. Alban's.

January 1889: ‘Our readers will, I think, be glad to hear that a new Choir rule has been made which comes into force next Sunday, viz., that no-one can be a member of the Choir who does not sing at Evensong on Sunday as well as at High Mass…I believe that in six months we shall only wonder that such an anomaly…could ever have been tolerated. To those kind helpers who, for the honour of St. Alban’s, have helped us in the Evening Choir during the past six years, my best thanks are due. In the words of one - they “gladly gave up their places in the Choir to better men”.’

February 1890: ‘The influenza epidemic has been busy in our midst…Our organist and about half of the adult members of the choir have been on the sick list.’

June: Laying of the Mackonochie Chapel Foundation Stone. ‘Half of the ground to the west of the Stone was floored with planks on a slightly raised and inclined plane, and was reserved for the Clergy, Choir, Committee, and others…The time was not very long between the conclusion of the Mass and the arrival of the procession of Clergy and Choir. The whole ceremony was expected to take about fifteen minutes. There is no doubt that it was a touching and impressive one, as the priests in their copes and eucharistic vestments, the surpliced Choir, and the quiet congregation, stood there in the bright sunshine, and the short Office was sung, and the prayers said by Father Suckling. Probably all wished to be near enough to see when Father Stanton placed the case containing the Life of Father Mackonochie” into the cavity prepared for it in the lower Stone, together with a small crimson bag holding new coins. This being done, and the Stone laid by Lord Beauchamp in the name of the Blessed Trinity, a few minutes sufficed for the concluding prayers and the singing of the last psalm.

‘After the ceremony, an unusually large number of guests assembled in the Holborn Town Hall…The Revd. A.H. Stanton…said that at a drawing room meeting…he had let out…that he wanted a piano, and in less than four-and-twenty hours he got one. He must let out the secret now - they wanted a new organ at St. Alban’s. Their present one was simply scarcely fit for firewood. As he was so fortunate about a piano he hoped he might be equally successful about an organ, and that there might be someone there who would say, “It’s just the very thing I’d like to do.” Of course it would be a thundering present to give a new organ to St. Alban’s, and he hoped that ere they met again one would have been obtained by some means.’

February 1891: St. Alban’s Tune Book. ‘The organist is compiling the Music for the supplement to the Hymnal noted with Appendix, as sung at St. Alban’s. Sir John Stainer, Mus. Doc., Dr. C.W. Pearce and others, have kindly contributed.’

April: ‘Mr. Adams, our organist, has taken great pains in compiling a book of tunes for those of our hymns that so far have no special tunes appointed for them...We shall all look forward to seeing this tune book, and I feel sure that such a work from Mr. Adams will not disappoint us.’

To the Editor: ‘Dear Sir, Fr. Suckling has asked me as Precentor to inform your readers that he wishes the Choir to be on a better financial footing than it has hitherto been, and he hopes that all who are interested in the Church Services will contribute towards the Choir Fund. Will, therefore, all who are willing to become regular subscribers send in their names and subscriptions to the Vicar or myself?’ Yours faithfully, E.A. HARRIS

June: ‘The new SUPPLEMENTAL TUNE BOOK is now ready, price 3s. in cloth, and in better bindings at 4s. 6d. and 6s.’

Patronal Festival lunch: ‘The Vicar spoke highly of Mr. Harris’s work for the Choir, and said that he was…gradually bringing it to perfection. The Rev. E.F. Russell proposed the health of the Workers, and, first and foremost, the Organ-blower, which naturally caused some amusement; then followed the organist, Mr. Adams.'

Vicar's letter: ‘This year, the Churchwardens and myself feel obliged to say that the offertory at Harvest Thanksgiving must be given to the Choir Fund. Most of our readers will know that in July Mrs. Malton, a very old friend and regular worshipper at St. Alban’s, departed this life (R.I.P.). But few knew that for years she had been a most kind and most liberal subscriber to our Choir Fund; and it was by her own request that her name did not appear. I hope that those of our readers who are anxious that there shall be no falling off in the character of the music, will help us by becoming subscribers to our Choir Fund.’

'We can now look back on the great event of the year, viz. the Benediction of the Mackonochie Chapel. In spite of the rain the Church was quite full, and the congregation a most appreciative one. Tuesday, December 15th, 1891 (the fourth anniversary of the death of Father Mackonochie) will ever be a notable day in the annals of St. Alban’s as having been the occasion of the Benediction of the beautiful Chapel erected as a Memorial of our first Vicar. At 8 a.m. Mass was celebrated in the Chapel by the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles. At 11 a.m. a Requiem Mass was sung in the Church. Admission to this service was necessarily limited to the holders of tickets which had previously been issued...At the conclusion of the Mass the Bishop - attended by the Clergy and Choir - proceeded to the Chapel. At the door the Collect “Prevent us, O Lord” was said, and then followed the 51st Psalm, during the singing of which a partial circuit of the exterior of the Chapel was made, the Bishop meanwhile sprinkling the walls, using the words: “Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, O Lord, and I shall be clean: Thou shalt wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”…Then, having entered the Chapel, the Litany was sung…Psalms 120, 121 and 122 were chanted…The Bishop with his attendants then returned to the Church where, from the Altar, he pronounced the blessing. After the service two trees were planted in the vacant ground to the east of the Chapel, one by the Bishop and the other by Lord Halifax, who was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Memorial Fund.’

December: ‘The dense fogs that we have had in London have hindered many of our old and valued friends from getting out to Church, and many that did come ought not to have ventured out. Our congregations have therefore been smaller, and yet the services have been very bright. The usual 9 p.m. Evensong and Te Deum on the 31st was well attended, and by our regular congregation; and the Midnight Service was crowded, and Father Stanton once more preached to the people who, as a whole, listened very attentively to his words.’

‘Owing to the death of a Lady, whose munificent subscription to the Choir amounted to nearly £200 a year, it has become necessary to appeal to the Congregation, if the Music is to be maintained. The sum of £200 per annum must be raised.’ R.A.J. SUCKLING. Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, 1892.

Vicar's letter: ‘I must thank the Duke of Newcastle for so kindly providing us with a full Orchestra for the High Mass on Easter Day…I believe he was pleased with the service, and indeed there could have been few present who did not think it a splendid effort to give true and festal thanksgiving and adoration to our risen Lord. I hear with sorrow that some of our old friends were unable to get inside the Church at all. I hope that their disappointment may be lessened when they know that the Officers of the Church did their very best to get places for all, and that when the claims of two for a seat were equal, preference was given to the regular worshipper. The order and reverence of the music was greatly due to our Organist, Mr. Thomas Adams, who himself conducted the service.’

May: ‘How heartily glad we all are to have got rid of the Rag Shop in Brooke Street! All - that is to say - except the rats, who have had rather a rough time of it since vacating the premises. The property, we believe, now belongs to the Prudential Assurance Company, so that there is ground to hope that, in the future, no such unmitigated a nuisance as the late establishment will be permitted, but that the air will be allowed to keep such sweetness as is possible in the neighbourhood of Leather Lane.’

'In the very small hours of the morning of October 11th, a fire broke out in a chocolate factory behind the houses at the Holborn end of the western side of Brooke Street, the intervening space being no more than about twelve feet. Fortunately the wind was blowing in a contrary direction and, except to the factory, very little damage was done. The residents were, naturally enough, much alarmed by the close proximity of the flames and were forced by the heat and the police to beat a somewhat hasty retreat from their back rooms and await events in their front apartments. There is no foundation for the rumour that several ladies in albs were seen wandering about the street in search of shelter.’

Shrove Tuesday, February 14th, 1893, was the date set for the benediction of the new rood, and it was to be followed by a performance of Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Gounod’s Te Deum in C, with orchestra. The Parish Paper reported: ‘The Choir are working hard at the Stabat Mater: our Precentor, the Rev. E.A. Harris, and Mr. Adams, our Organist, will do their best to render it in a manner that will be worthy of this important occasion.’

‘The dedication of the Rood was performed by Fr. Suckling, assisted by Fathers Hogg and Harris, in the presence of the Duke of Newcastle and a vast congregation. The Veni Creator, with Collects, having been sung, a procession was made to the space in front of the Rood, where the Dedicatory Prayer was said. This was followed by Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Gounod’s Te Deum in C. The stateliness of the ceremony and the beauty of the musical performance have made the occasion one of the most striking in the annals of St. Alban’s.’

'On Tuesday evening, March 21st, the Choir, accompanied by a full orchestra, performed for the second time Rossini’s Stabat Mater. Our Organist, Mr. Thomas Adams, conducted, and the performance…was in many respects even more excellent than when it was given on Shrove Tuesday. Special praise should be given for the manner in which Quis est homo, inflammatus and the unaccompanied Eia Mater were sung; also the splendid steadiness of the last chorus. The church was crowded, but it is very disappointing to learn that the expenses were not nearly covered by the collection, the amount taken being only £28.'

The Stabat Mater, was performed again on Sunday, June 11th (St. Barnabas Day) after Evensong, and was reviewed thus in The Musical Times: 'On Sunday the 11th, after Evensong, Rossini’s Stabat Mater was performed at St. Alban’s Church for the third time since Lent by the choir, with the assistance of a small but excellent band ably led by Mr. Alexander Symons, and an organ accompaniment played by Mr. Hilary Davon Wetton. The vocal quartet consisted of Masters W. Gough and A. Lee, Mr. Probert and Mr. Blackney who, in solo, duet or quartet, gained golden opinions from an attentive and critical audience. Their united forces were conducted by Mr. Thomas Adams, the accomplished Organist of the Church, and indefatigable trainer of the boys - rough diamonds picked up in the regions of Leather Lane and Baldwin’s Gardens.'

‘Mendelssohn’s Lauda Sion and Gounod’s Te Deum in C were the works chosen for the crowning act of praise in the Patronal Feast, and were performed on Thursday, 29th (St. Peter’s Day). We can only record the fact which has characterised the music in our church for some time, that it was in every way excellent. We are sorry that there was not a larger congregation; but the coincidence of St. Peter’s Festival at London Docks no doubt accounted for this. To many people, also, the Lauda Sion is not so popular as Rossini’s Stabat Mater, but we cannot put Mendelssohn behind Rossini as a composer, and all real lovers of music would, we think, have been equally delighted with the Lauda Sion as with the Stabat Mater.’

1894: ‘It is proposed to give a rendering of Rossini’s Stabat Mater in the Church during Passion Week, if the proposal is backed up by sufficient guarantors. £30 is required. The care taken by the Precentor, the Organist and the Choir warrant my speaking of it as being most reverent and cultivated.’

‘On March 13th, at 8 p.m., Rossini’s Stabat Mater will be sung with full orchestral accompaniment. No tickets will be required for admission.’

‘The music at High Mass on Easter Day (Messe Solennelle in E flat by Guilmant, the Alleluia from Beethoven’s Mount of Olives at the Offertory and Foster’s O panis at the Communion) will be rendered by a full orchestra.’

Vicar’s annual address: ‘The Vicar pleaded for a new organ at a cost of £2,600. At the annual luncheon, the Duke of Newcastle said he felt sure that all present would agree with him that with such glorious services and such an excellent choir, the present instrument was totally inadequate. If such an instrument as the organ proposed could be obtained, it would be of material assistance to the singing and the improvement of the service.’

May: ‘There are many of our worshippers who, if I mistake not, missed the sweet voice that sang so lately The King of Love, and I know that my Redeemer liveth. Master Gough has, alas! scarlet fever; but I am glad to say that it is a mild form, and the Precentor tells me that he is going on well and that we may hope to see him back in his place by St. Alban’s Day.’

The Organ Fund: ‘Father Stanton’s appeal in the Church Times did its work, as I think you will see by looking at the list of subscriptions printed by the Precentor. But it takes time to collect money, and with all our efforts we have as yet only collected £1,000. I may say to those who have not been in St. Alban’s Church during September, that the organ itself is giving us a very real warning that no time is to be lost, for we may at any time have a breakdown.’

'The Old Choir Boys Club are going to act a play at Christmas. Costumes are our difficulty. We might manage the gentlemen’s clothes, but how about the ladies! Will some of your readers kindly send us some? A frock, a dress, a couple of hats, some satin shoes, a cape or mantle - or anything that might suggest itself to them as useful. THE STAGE MANAGER (E.A. Harris)

January 1895: ‘The Old Choir Boys Club have given three evening performances of Lodgers and Dodgers and Chiselling, to the great amusement of crowded audiences. St. Alban’s Hall was on all three occasions packed from pit to gallery...Everyone, including the writer himself, simply fell over head and ears in love with Kate, her charms were quite irresistible, and it was difficult to recognise her personally.’ A.H.S.

March: ‘Mr Belfrage is drawing up an agreement for us, which I hope will be signed this week by Mr. Willis, the celebrated Organ builder. Since the West end Organ scheme has been abandoned, we have given up the Hope-Jones system, and Mr. Willis will put half the Organ on the North side of the Chancel, and the other half on the South side. We propose that the Organ shall be blown by water, the machine being placed in the roof of the present Choir Vestry. The building and fixing of this instrument will cost £2,339, which leaves £700 to be raised. So pressing is the need, and so anxious are the Clergy that the Organ should be up by St. Alban’s Day next (which Mr. Willis has promised), that they have made themselves personally responsible to him for this remaining sum.’

April: Fr. Suckling wrote ‘The organ is being built. I have seen Mr. Willis today, and he tells me that they are hard at work in his factory. The plan of the organ will be submitted to Messrs. Bodley and Garner on Wednesday next…If in the next two or three weeks our readers notice pipes being laid down in Brooke Street, they will know that we are getting the water from the main in High Holborn in order that our organ may be blown by hydraulic power. Mr. Willis proposed to begin to put up the organ about the third week in May, and I suppose for a time we must on the weekdays use the Mackonochie Chapel for our daily services.’

‘The old organ has been heard for the last time! On the second Sunday after Easter we had to do our best with a piano. I hope that during the seven weeks that are yet before us we may have some addition to this, for I hear that on one or two Sundays “strings” have been promised by a member of the congregation. Next week we shall have to go into the Mackonochie Chapel while Mr. Willis is making a small tunnel under the chancel, in order to connect the part of the organ that is on the South side of the chancel with that which is to be on the North. The bad state of the old organ is shown by the fact that we have been unable to sell it for more than £50; and when it came to be pulled to pieces, the purchasers were shewn to be quite justified in giving such a low price. This disappointment in the sale of the old organ has, of course, made a serious effect upon the Organ Fund, as we have so much the more to make up. The new organ is progressing, and what is done shows what splendid work Mr. Willis turns out, and augers well for the excellency of the future instrument.’

Vicar's letter: ‘The marvellous way in which Mr. Willis has got through his work must inspire every one with confidence in his power to carry out all that he says. If I take only yesterday (the Whitsun Bank holiday), I can say that it is quite wonderful to see what was done! On my return from Chislehurst yesterday evening, I went into the church, and could hardly believe my own eyes - so much had been done, and in such good order.’

‘The Blessing of the new Altar and Organ will take place, we hope, at the 1st Evensong of St. Alban, i.e. on Friday evening, June 21st, at 8 p.m. Admission will be by ticket. The entrance will be by Brooke Street only...But as only a thousand tickets will be issued, the following order will be observed: (1) Subscribers, (2) Parishioners; then tickets will be sent out in the order in which the request is received…There will also be an opportunity of hearing our new Organ, for there will be an Organ recital in the afternoon of 22nd June.’ The recital included works by Mendelssohn, Wagner, Handel, Franck and Bach.

The Church Times reported the service on 21st June thus: ‘The service for blessing the high altar and the organ took place last Friday at 8 p.m. The Rev. R.A.J. Suckling, assisted by the Revs. A.H. Stanton and E.F. Russell, all fully vested, performed the ceremony. After a few prayers had been offered the altar was washed, asperged, and incensed, and prayers of blessing said at the north, south, and middle, the choir singing the Miserere, unaccompanied. The blessing of the organ was then proceeded with, the officiating clergy walked into the chancel where the organ was asperged and incensed, and the prayer of blessing said, the choir singing Psalm 150. A splendid effect was produced when the new organ was first heard in the strains of the Magnificat by Rossi, followed by an Ave Maria, with violin obbligato, by Thomas Adams.’

October, Vicar's letter: ‘The Precentor has been talking to me about a monthly performance of the Stabat Mater. One question that has arisen is whether it should be on a regular Sunday evening in each month after evensong and instead of a sermon, or whether it should be on a weekday. I am talking the matter over, and so far, while I welcome the Stabat Mater I am inclined to a weekday evening; we shall then give a special opportunity for those who are lovers of Rossini to shew it, and at the same time keep the use of so many years for Sunday evenings.’

November: ‘Our new organ is in constant use, and the sum of £2,160 11s. 6d. has been raised for it, leaving only £178 8s. 6d. to complete our debt to Mr. Willis.’

‘On the Sunday evening after Christmas, Mr. Adam’s new cantata, The Holy Child, was sung for the first time in our Church. There was a large congregation who seemed thoroughly to appreciate the beautiful music. The pastoral character of the accompaniment gave Mr. Adams the opportunity of exhibiting some lovely combinations of stops on the Organ, which was not the least charming part of the performance. It is hoped that an Organ Recital, together with another performance of The Holy Child will be arranged at the end of January.’

1896: ‘The Old Choir Boys Dramatic Club gave three capital performances of Cool as a Cucumber and Make your Wills in St. Alban’s Hall, on January 9th, 11th & 14th. Crowded and appreciative houses on each night showed that their efforts to please and amuse were not in vain. Of course the great difficulty in a Dramatic Club composed of males is the impersonation of female characters, but in this case the difficulty was quite overcome by the natural and “lady-like” way in which G. Wakeling, E. Collins and W.A. Gough played their parts.’

‘The Organ Recital given by our Organist, Mr. Thomas Adams, on January 21st, was a great musical treat; the programme was well chosen, and executed of course in a masterly manner. Especially charming were the Sonata in D minor (West) and Vorspiel (Parsifal) Wagner; in the latter, Mr. Adams was able to exhibit the wonderful string-like tone which is one of the peculiar beauties of our organ. The Recital was interspersed with Vocal Solos, which were ably sung by Mr. John Probert, and the whole concluded with Mr. Adams’ cantata, The Holy Child, which was sung by the full Choir with good effect. There was a large congregation, but it is disappointing to hear that the collection was not in proportion, being only £6. This barely covers the expenses, and therefore there is nothing to hand over to the Organ Fund, as was intended. We hope it was not our own people, but the strangers, who were deficient in their financial support. The Precentor proposes to arrange for three performances of Rossini’s Stabat Mater during Lent. It is hoped that all those who attend and hear this favourite work will remember that good music, like most other things, costs something, and will kindly give their help accordingly.’

‘At the invitation of the Rev. R.A.J. Suckling, the Chairman, many members of the Holborn Branch of the English Church Union and their friends were present at St. Alban’s Hall on Monday, February 17th to spend an agreeable evening which was devoted to “Music and Coffee”. An excellent selection of music was provided...The instrumentalists were Mr. Gerald Walenn, the violinist, and Mr. Herbert Walenn, the violoncellist, brothers of Farquharson Walenn, a former organist of St. Alban’s, whose memory is perpetuated by a stained-glass window in the church. The two clever players, who have lately been worthily supporting the credit of English executive musical art in Frankfurt, were each heard in some self-selected numbers, Mr. Gerald Walenn playing with great taste and technical proficiency, Wieniawski’s Légende, and a charming little Berçeuse by Gabriel Fauré, and Mr. Herbert Walenn giving, with much manipulative skill and brilliancy, Popper’s Polonaise de Concert, and afterwards heard in two brief but graceful pieces, namely, Saint Saëns’ Le Cygne and a Minuet by his former instructor, Herr Hugo Becker.’

‘Rossini’s Stabat Mater was most beautifully sung by our Choir on February 24th. Mr. Adams accompanied on the Organ with his usual skill, and conducted the unaccompanied numbers. The soloists were Masters Fryatt and Griffiths, and Messrs. John Probert and James Blackney, the two latter singing in their best style. The Church was crowded, and the collections more encouraging than on a former occasion, being over £11: thus the Precentor will be able to hand over a small balance towards the Organ Fund. If our friends will only support us in this manner we shall soon cause the troublesome Organ “Debt” to disappear.’

‘When it is remembered that over £2,580 will have been paid to Mr. Willis by St. Alban’s Day, no one will be inclined to think that the interest in St. Alban’s Church and its musical services is on the wane. But to crown it all, those who have most interested themselves in the matter will be delighted to hear that an offer has most generously been made to entirely complete the instrument. Up to this time we have only had the necessary portions of a good Church organ; now we are to possess an Organ de luxe; the additional stops including the solo organ and four or five stops on the Great, Choir, and Pedal Organs. Hence our work, undertaken on St. Alban’s Day, 1894, is now completed; and we may say without fear of exaggeration that St. Alban’s Church will possess, as Fr. Russell said it ought to do, as grand an Organ as any Church in London.’

‘Our completed organ was opened by a grand Service of Thanksgiving on July 21st; Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise was beautifully sung by the Choir, the chorus numbers being rendered with great steadiness and precision, reflecting great credit on every individual performer. Masters Alban Knott and Griffiths took the first and second sopranos respectively, with great care and good effect, and Mr. John Probert sang the tenor solo part in magnificent style. Altogether the service was worthy of the occasion. Concerning the Organ, heard in its entirety for the first time, nothing but delight was expressed. St. Alban’s is not only to be congratulated upon its magnificent Organ, but also, what is no secondary importance, in having for an Organist one who knows so well how to play it. We look forward with great pleasure to the promised organ recitals which Mr. Adams intends to give us, in our cleaned and newly lighted church.’

The full specification of the Willis Organ, showing the final stops added to complete it, is printed in the monthly paper of July 1896, and can be seen, together with a photograph, on our website, The Organ consisted of four complete manuals, and two octaves and a half of concave and radiating pedals, 30 notes.

1898: ‘Rossini’s Stabat Mater will be sung in Church on March 15th and 29th, at 8 p.m. No tickets required’

‘Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise will be sung on the Octave of St. Alban’s (June 29th), at 8 p.m. No tickets required.’

July: ‘The Finance Committee, with a view of economy, have decided - in lieu of the £60 a quarter which the Church Fund has allowed the Choir - that the Collections on the first Sunday in every month shall be devoted to this object. Unless your offerings on those Sundays are increased, the Choir Fund will be the loser by £70 a year, and our present Choir must be broken up. I refer you to the statement of our accounts, in which you will see that the expenses of the Choir have not in any way increased…I leave the future of our Choir in your hands.’ E.A. HARRIS, Precentor.

August: ‘During the Vicar’s absence (on holiday) the services of the church have continued unchanged, save in the character of their music. This, of course, has had to be of the simplest sort, for even seraphic choirboys - all choirboys are ex-officio seraphic - need holidays and the refreshment of new scenes and new air, and the refined delights which abound at this time in all our popular holiday resorts. Yet, simple though the music has been, it has had merits of its own which made it pleasant and heart-stirring to hear. Two of our choir-men have had pity on us, and have stayed on to lead the congregation who, with this encouragement, have sung with growing spirit and not unsweetly. And then Mr. Adams has veiled all our deficiencies, and made what was good better by the magic of his organ accompaniments - those wonderful sound effects which seem to come so easily to him, and yet which no-one else seems able to produce. What with our organ and organist and choir, we are, in matters musical, something like spoiled children, and are apt to forget how much we have which others have not.’

November: ‘The Bishop of London (Mandell Creighton) wishes the singing of the Gradual to be discontinued, but otherwise the Morning Service will remain as it was before. Evensong is not to be enriched with antiphons.’

1899: Mid-Lent Sunday, 12 March: ‘A solemn Te Deum was sung after High Mass, as an act of thanksgiving for the signal deliverance from the fire which burnt down a neighbouring factory in the early hours of 9th March.’

A concert to raise funds for the Old Scholars’ Cricket Ground and Recreation Rooms took place on June 26th, at St. Alban’s Hall. The programme included violin solos by Mr. Gerald Walenn, who played one of his own compositions, a piece by Hubay and a piece by Schubert. The music was under the direction of Mr. T. Adams.

A Belfast gentleman’s impressions of a service at St. Alban’s were reported in the Belfast Evening Telegraph, of July 11th 1899: 'The first part of the service was chanted as usual, but in such a low tone that the choir practically led the service, and the officiating priest was scarcely heard...A procession was then formed, headed by the incense-bearer and the three priests…the rear being brought up by the choir, who chanted part of the service. These walked down the right aisle, and up the left, finally taking their place again within the chancel.'

August: ‘The services of the Church have been sung by a gradually dwindling choir, until last Sunday we reached the low-water mark of one choirman; and yet we have enjoyed them heartily. The appeal to the congregation to sing put us all on our mettle; we sang, and Mr. Adams did the rest with his enchantments, an accompaniment as encouraging as it was beautiful.’

Vicar's letter: ‘The War in South Africa is at the present moment the thing we are all thinking and praying about. We cannot be indifferent witnesses of this great struggle, when we know of the intense sorrow and suffering that has fallen, and is falling, upon so many of our countrymen. Those of us who believe with a great statesman “that the War was not on the part of the Boers a despairing struggle for liberty, but a bold bid for empire” are specially bound to see that we are doing something to help our soldiers. A Requiem for the soldiers on both sides who have fallen in battle was held on Wednesday 29th November. In fact there were three Black Masses, the first at 7, the second at 8.30, and the last at 11 a.m. The collection was over £50, which will be sent to the Mansion House Fund for the War. I hope to continue to have a Black Mass on each Monday at 8 a.m. for our soldiers who have fallen; and during the season of Advent I hope to be able to report that there will be a sufficient number interested in the War who will take part in a Twelve Hours’ Intercession on each Wednesday in Advent, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. This will be one way of helping our Army, and also the many relatives who are sorrowing over the wounded, dying, and the dead, as well as those who must be dreading each day to look at the papers for news of those near and dear to them.’

1900: ‘Our readers will have heard of the death of our eminent architect, Mr. William Butterfield. He died at his house in Bedford Square, on Friday, February 23rd, at the advanced age of 86...It is well-known that our Founder, Lord Addington, thought Mr. Butterfield’s work was seen at its very best in the Church of St. Alban the Martyr, Holborn…Few of us have ever seen Mr. Butterfield, partly because of his disapproval of our additions to his church, partly because of a shy and reserved nature which withdrew him from public life.’

March: Vicar's letter: ‘I have appointed our talented Organist, Thomas Adams Esq., to be Choir Master. This he kindly consents to undertake, so that now he will act as Choir Master and Organist; and though he will be responsible in all matters of music, in other matters he will act in consultation with Father Russell, who will help us by adding this to the numerous other things that he does for us.’ Fr. Harris retired at this time, and thenceforward there was no designated Precentor.

‘On Tuesdays, March 13th and April 3rd, Rossini’s Stabat Mater will be sung at 8 p.m. No tickets required.’

‘The Cricket Club Concert on April 23rd promises to be as great a success as last year. Amongst the contributors to the long programme are our Organist and Choirmaster, Mr. Adams; some of the gentlemen of the Choir; a Quartette of Men’s Voices from the Community House, Woburn Square; Mr. Courtenay Thorpe, and we hope, Mr. Gerald Walenn - prince of violinists…The concert is to raise funds to pay the rent of the private pitch at Willesden…A league has been formed of the following Clubs:- St. Anne’s (Soho), St. John’s (Drury Lane), St. Mary’s (Charing Cross Road), Gainsford (Lincoln’s Inn Mission), Lincoln (Holy Trinity), Bloomsbury Rovers (Bloomsbury Chapel), and St. Alban’s, Holborn.’

‘The Concert on behalf of the Old Scholars’ private pitch at Willesden may fairly count as one of the successes of the year. An excellent programme carried through in excellent style. Our heartiest thanks to our friends for their excellent service. We are their debtors for a most pleasant evening, and enough money, by sale of tickets, to cover the rent of the ground. It is hoped that St. George’s Day each year will be fixed for the Cricket Club Concert.’

'The Old Scholars’ Club is flourishing, and jogs along happily enough, giving society, recreation, and pleasant shelter to our Old Boys on all evenings of the week. Our numbers have been increased lately by six of the lads of the Choir, who have left the school and are now at work…On Tuesday evenings the dumb-bell drill is done to music in the Men’s Club. The tables and chairs are put aside, and a good clear space gives room for all the movements. It affords much pleasure and amusement to the men, an old soldier among them looking on with grave, critical eye.’

At the War: 'We regret to hear that Frederick Henry Stous, formerly one of the boys of our choir, who fought in the Battles of Spion Kop and Vaal Kranz, died of enteric fever at Mooi River, on May 26th. May he rest in peace.'

Vicar's letter, August: 'I should like to draw the attention of our readers, and especially of all who are interested in our Choir, to the need for further help in regard to the music on some of the greater Festivals and Saints’ Days. I have been talking the matter over with the Churchwardens, and then with Mr. H.J. Sheldrake, the Secretary of the Choir Fund; and have had a conference with Mr. Thomas Adams, our Organist and Choirmaster, together with Mr. Sheldrake. The result of our considerations come to this: that over and above the ordinary Choir expenses, which chiefly concern the Sundays and the Daily Evensong, if we are to keep within our income, we must either trust to the congregation to sing or we must appeal for further help. Would any lover of music be responsible for the payment, or part of the payment, of five men at sixteen of the Greater Days? Mr. Sheldrake informs me that for these sixteen Festivals the sum of £30 would be required; that six of these Festivals ought to be supplemented by our Tenor and solo boy, and this would mean an extra cost of £9. Then there are fifteen Lesser Festivals, for which £11 5s. would be required. Thus £50 in all would enable us to have the music that musical people tell me we ought to have.’

September: 'Thanks largely to the generosity of an anonymous friend, the boys of St. Alban’s Choir have…visited the Hippodrome. The admirable entertainment was thoroughly enjoyed by all…Where every item is good it is almost impossible to select any one as a prime favourite, but we shall not be far wrong if we say that the excitement of “Siberia” was reckoned by general vote to be a worthy climax of an altogether excellent performance.’

Vicar's letter: ‘I…wish to lay before you a statement with regard to the music…I am encouraged to think that there are signs of a determination to put the finances of the Choir on a sound footing. One friend, in order to encourage the Choir, and perhaps to inspire our worshippers, gave us a musical treat last Sunday at the sung Mass. Some of our readers have expressed to me their delight at hearing again in our Church a drum (most skilfully handled), a harp, some violins, and a cornet. One of our Churchwardens reminded me that it had been urged as a reason for having a really powerful organ as the one we now possess, that there would be no need to supplement it by a band, and we should thus save our Choir Fund. But on being informed that this addition was a gift to us, he merely smiled at the memory of the weighty reason which had been pressed upon him in the past, and then ranked himself amongst those who thoroughly appreciated the dignity of the service of last Sunday morning. Father Stanton’s sermon helped us...and when I tell you his text it may not even then be quite obvious to those who did not hear it as to how it bore upon music! His text was from Chronicles ii, 34; but the following facts will speak for themselves - a nobleman who was present sent to him £10 for the Choir Fund, and another gentleman was reminded of his unpaid Choir subscription, which he at once sent to me. And I have a further indication of interest. Since Sunday I have had a promise of £50 a year. Truly we have many kind friends. Now these, and indeed other things made me feel that there are signs of a determination amongst our people to put the Choir Fund on a sound footing.’

October: Extract from an article by Fr. Russell. ‘The music in Church is as excellent, as well chosen and well produced now as it has ever been; and, so far as we can learn, is as much appreciated. But with many - our Subscription list leads us to suspect - their interest stops at appreciation, and they contribute nothing towards the maintenance of an art which must be costly. The device of a monthly collection has been only moderately successful for…we are in debt, and the year has yet a quarter of its course to run. The obvious course to take under such circumstances would be to reduce the scale of the music to the limits of our purse, and to content ourselves with a lower standard and the lesser Masters. But that would be an innovation upon the unbroken tradition of St. Alban’s, which has always been ambitious for the best. Our friends have never in the past allowed things to drop to a lower level, and would be indignant if we were to make a beginning now with the music. We feel sure that we need only make the difficulty known to have the difficulty met.’

Fr. Stanton added a postscript to this: ‘Instead of the monthly appeal from the pulpit, everyone who considers himself or herself “one of the congregation”, should subscribe annually something to the music, and try and get one or two friends “outside” to help too...Subscriptions should be announced in the next number of the MONTHLY PAPER. We must not mind our names appearing. Our music is our St. Alban’s family matter, and evidently we all need encouragement and keeping up concerning it; and it does encourage us to see our friends giving.’

November: The Vicar writes: ‘I hope you are all remembering the Meeting to be held (D.V.) in St. Alban’s Hall, on Wednesday evening at 8.30 p.m. directly after Evensong. The object of the Meeting is to try and place the Choir Fund on a sound financial footing. I hope to lay a few facts before the Meeting, but the chief speakers will be Father Stanton and Father Russell.’

‘Our Meeting in St. Alban’s Hall, on Wednesday, November 7th, in order to try to place our Choir Fund on a sound financial footing, was duly held at 8.30 p.m. We had a good attendance and some good speeches. The weather was certainly against us, but in spite of the rain we were well supported...I have had several kind letters and, in response to our Meeting, gifts have been received, both subscriptions and donations and promises of help. One gentleman gives us, besides a subscription, the money for a band on Christmas Day; and a lady, besides her subscription, sends money for a band on the Feast of the Epiphany. I can assure our readers that a real effort has been made to help the Choir Fund. We are to begin on January 1st, the beginning of the new century, and I hope that not only the Choir may then be permanently helped, but that our excellent Organist and the gentlemen of the Choir may be encouraged by this practical way of showing that their services are appreciated.’

Further report by Fr. Russell: The “sense” of the Meeting was as follows:-

That it is very desirable that Father Stanton should be relieved of the irksome task of repeating month by month his appeal for help. Such appeals from the pulpit should be reserved rather for special and occasional needs.

It is also desirable that every member of the congregation should feel it his or her direct interest in and responsibility towards the maintenance of the music in divine service.

That the interest should be shewn by an annual contribution, however small, from every member of the congregation.

'It was suggested that the Choir for the Saints’ Day Masses should be provided, not out of the Choir Fund, but by special gifts. The cost of a minimum Choir of two voices is fifteen shillings, but this is of course a somewhat meagre provision. It is hoped that friends will provide the voices on one or more of the Festivals of the Saints to whom they may have especial devotion or for other reasons. Some have already signified their wish to do this and have chosen their day.

'In the course of the Meeting it was evident that the music is most fully appreciated. We are proud of our Choir and of the distinguished musician who is our Choirmaster and Organist.’

'The Boys of the Choir had their Christmas Supper in the Leigh Court Club Rooms, on the evening of Boxing Day. Sickness and other Christmas contingencies accounted for several absences, so we were not at full strength. However, those who were able to come made the most of the evening, and even turkey and Christmas pudding did not interfere with an impromptu gymnastics display, indeed it seemed to aid appetite and digestion. Especial thanks are due to the ladies who prepared the feast and ministered to our bodily comforts, for the time and trouble they spent over us.’

January 1901: ‘Our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria, the “Great White Queen”, has passed away from us with startling suddenness…We knew her intimate acquaintance with the nation’s mind and needs, her deep respect for national liberties, her love of peace, her self-repression for the public good. And her womanliness added to her power, it softened the asperities of party strife, and touched men’s patriotism with the grace of chivalry.’ E.F.R.

The Choir Fund: ‘A considerable number of papers containing PROMISES have been received, 102 in number, involving sums amounting in the aggregate to £134 or thereabouts. It is hoped that these promises will largely increase, and that those who have undertaken to become subscribers will induce others to do likewise, putting an end once and for all to the anxiety which has arisen when the expenses become due each quarter.’

‘Mr. Henry Willis, the greatest Organ builder of the Victorian era, passed away on February 11th last, in the eightieth year of his age. Endowed with marvellous mental and physical energy, he seemed destined to live amongst us for many a year, for within a week of his decease he was busily engaged with his employees at the famous “Rotunda” at Camden Town. It will be of much interest and gratification to all connected with the Church we love so well, to know that Mr. Willis considered our beautiful Organ as being the finest Church instrument he produced. Doubtless many remember, despite his patriarchal age, the extraordinary interest he took during the erection of the Organ, working in his shirt sleeves by the side of his men, whom he always regarded as his fellow-labourers. Not only was “Father” Willis the most eminent constructor of Organs, but an excellent performer as well, and the writer is indebted to him for many useful hints in matters pertaining to the “King of Instruments”.’ THOMAS ADAMS

April 23rd: ‘The St. George’s Day concert in aid of the Old Scholars’ Cricket Club was repeated. The items included two violin solos played by Gerald Walenn, and three part songs by J.L. Hatton (Summer Eve, Beware, and Absence) sung by four gentlemen of the Choir...The stage looked prettier even than last year, with its garlands of red roses all festooned above the big picture of St. George.’

June: ‘Our readers will probably have carried away with them the little paper of appeal for the Choir Fund, which was strewn broadcast over the Church on one Sunday in May, and will also, we trust, have taken to heart its argument. It gave us excellent reasons why both those who don’t love music, as well as those who do, should support the Choir, and help to make the musical accompaniment of the Mass in beauty and perfection all that such services should be, and all that in time past we have endeavoured to make it. It is most important that we should each one of us recognise and honour our individual responsibility for the seemliness, and indeed, for the relative splendour, of the service of God in the Church we call our own. It would do us, as a congregation, harm if the generous gifts of our richer friends encouraged any who are poorer, to withhold their contribution on the ground that it was either too trivial in amount or practically unnecessary. On the other hand, it would add immensely to the worth of our worship in the sight of God…if it stood to represent an act of sacrifice on the part of every single member of the congregation. We commend the Choir Fund to every individual who counts St. Alban’s as his or her spiritual home, and beg even the very poorest not to be ashamed to cast into the Treasury, if need be, the very smallest sum.’ E.F.R.

December: ‘Perhaps the established organ-grinders hardly need an advocate, for they are warmly welcomed in every court and playground...But in every community there are débutantes, struggling beginners who, for want of a little timely patronage, may be swamped and submerged in the successful crowd. For such an one, we wish to speak a word: Mrs. H. is nearly blind and, her husband being one of the many who cannot even maintain themselves, she is obliged to solve on her own account the difficult problem of how to live. Being a comparatively young woman, she is not eligible for parish relief, and for the same reason it is not desirable that she should pass the rest of her days in the Infirmary, especially as there is hope that by-and-bye she may partially recover her sight. The idea that she could earn a living if only she had a hand-organ, was entirely her own…So the organ was procured…Now for the practical side. Mrs. H. is allowed the use of the organ only on one condition - that of paying for it by small weekly instalments, to be deducted from her earnings, and as this payment will take, at the least, many months to accomplish, you will easily understand that the success of the organ is a positive necessity. All we ask of you is, that if this poor beginner should come to your door, you will not send her away as a nuisance...And, having thus cheerfully endured for a few minutes, give her a kindly God-speed, and “a few half-pence” to help her on her way.’

1902: ‘The year we have just ended leaves the St. Alban’s Choir Fund over £40 in debt. The expenses are in no way increased, and the magnificent music we enjoyed on Christmas Day - as good as any in Christendom - was paid for, as far as the Orchestra is concerned, by a private gift, and not out of the Choir Fund. Many members of the congregation subscribe, but many others who could, don’t for various reasons: “Many calls”, “other parishes”, and that most useful excuse, “The War”, upon the back of which, surely everything under the sun is laid except our own shortcomings. I appeal to the members of the congregation not to offer to God that which costs them little or nothing, viz. cheap music, but to find the £40, and enough to keep us going next year clear of debt.’ F.E. SIDNEY

Extract from A Criticism of London Organs from the publication The Organist and Choir Master, January 15th, 1902. ‘I have more than once been asked to give my opinion of the merits of various distinguished organs in the Metropolis, and have thought it might be interesting as well as instructive to determine which of these instruments can claim to be the finest. I therefore beg to submit my own personal views to the consideration of your readers. First, then, I will mention what I consider to be the choicest instruments in London. These are to be found in Holy Trinity, Sloane Street; St. Margaret’s, Westminster; All Saints’ Margaret Street; St. Sepulchre’s, Holborn; St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge; St. Saviour’s, Southwark; St. Barnabas, Pimlico; the Temple Church; and St. Alban’s, Holborn…To give a worthy description of St. Alban's organ would tax a far abler pen than mine. St. Alban’s (which I do not consider to be a particularly resonant church) is blest with a divided instrument of which the mere thought seems to send a thrill through me. I can never tire of listening to it. It breathes majesty in every note and voice, it rolls out its kingly diapasons as I never heard diapasons roll, and so wonderfully balanced is the full swell that the combination of contra posaune, trumpet and clarion, comes and passes like ‘smoke’. All the reeds are simply superb, being equal to those at St. Paul’s Cathedral or the Royal Albert Hall, and the diapasons are very similar to those at All Saints’. The one weak point (and every organ has one at least) lies in the flue-work which, though very nice, is not on a par with that at St. Barnabas, or St. Saviour’s. But I will freely and unhesitatingly give the palm to this magnificent instrument, and in order to find a finer we must walk beyond the walls of London Town.’ NOËL BONAVIA HUNT.

February: ‘Lent is fast approaching. Great care must this year be taken about fasting, and indeed abstinence also, on account of the smallpox. Doctors are strong on this point, and rightly so.’

June, Vicar's letter: ‘The thing which is in our minds today and, indeed, in the minds and hearts of the whole empire, is the long looked for Proclamation of Peace! On Sunday, as I was going to Evensong, I heard that peace had been proclaimed, and to make quite sure I asked Mr. Arthur Wills to go at once to the Mansion House and see for himself; he returned during Evensong confirming the report. Notice was given of the good news by Fr. Hogg just before the sermon, and we sang the Te Deum solemnly, as our thanksgiving to Almighty God for this blessed news, and Mr. Adams played the Hallelujah Chorus. A glow of thankfulness filled all our hearts, that the efforts of our gallant armies in South Africa had, at last, been crowned with success…The work of the soldier is, for the most part, done; but we must not forget to pray that the Statesmen at home, and Lord Milner in South Africa, may do their difficult part; for their great work now begins.’

‘Thursday, June 26th, is the Coronation Day of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Great preparations are being made, and as we pass through the streets of London we are always being reminded of the Coronation…Let as many as can, make a point of being present at the Special Mass appointed by our Bishop for June the 26th.’

‘In asking for help for our children’s holiday, I must mention a real difficulty - it is this: where are we to send them this year? The country people are afraid of them - afraid of smallpox - and although the Town Clerk assures us that, with one exception, Holborn has a clean sheet in this matter, yet all the country places we have been accustomed to sending our children to, say - “Not this year”.’

July: ‘“The changes and chances of this mortal life” have indeed been before us all, since I last wrote to you! However, today’s Times speaks of our King as “out of danger”; and so, after the serious operation which has put an end to all the most wonderful preparations for the King’s Coronation, both in London and throughout the Empire, we may again look forward to a national thanksgiving for the restored health of our King, and then to his Anointing, Coronation, and Communion, in Westminster Abbey. God save the King!’

‘Our elder Choir boys, being members of a Cricket Club, have probably inspired the younger Choir boys to start a Club and so, under Fr. Pearkes’ care, they are to try their hand at cricket on Saturday afternoons in Regent’s Park. So for the present they are to sing Evensong on Tuesdays, and we are to have a plain Evening Service on Saturdays, at 5 p.m.’

‘After Sunday, August 3rd, the gentlemen of the Choir will be away for the rest of the month, and after August 10th, the boys will also be absent. We must therefore depend entirely on the congregation for the singing on three Sundays.’

‘The subscriptions to the St. Alban’s Choir Fund having fallen off, owing to many different causes, it is now £100 in debt. This ought not to be. We have the finest Parish Church Organ in England, and the music should be on the same level. We must offer to God our best, especially for this great service, the Mass, and not that which costs us nothing. To help the Choir Fund the Ladies’ Association has been formed, and the Vicar earnestly hopes that by their help, not only will the debt be cleared off, but that the music may be made even better than it is now.’

1906: 'I must, in the name of our people, thank the kind donor of the Orchestra - a great addition to our organ at the High Mass on Christmas Day.'

1907: ‘The music at the High Mass, and the gift of the Orchestra, made this Easter, which - to quote the exact words of some members of our congregation - “one of the happiest Easters ever known”.’

‘On Easter Monday, at 1 p.m., Edward Arthur Harris passed to his rest…Seven years have elapsed since Mr. Harris worked here as Assistant Curate…There are still among us now a few persons who think of Edward Harris with gratitude and affection. Foremost amongst these will be the men who in their time were choir boys under his care. On them he lavished time, money and love. For them he was always devising fresh plans to further their comfort, or amusement, or - both temporally and spiritually - their well-being…As Precentor, he did much for the music of the Church. Through him we came to know, and were able to secure the services of Mr. Adams, our Organist; and mainly by his earnest pleading we became possessors of our beautiful organ…Music was perhaps his greatest pleasure. Though never an expert - he had neither the time nor the patience to become so - it was delightful to hear him at the organ, sometimes accompanying, sometimes improvising. He played always with characteristic energy and enthusiasm, as one who did what he loved to do, putting himself into his work.’

‘A gentleman who was present on the Sunday in the Octave of St. Alban, and who has travelled all over Europe, wrote to me: “I think the High Mass at St. Alban’s last Sunday was the most inspiring I have ever seen anywhere in all my life”. This is a testimony that I record with pleasure, hoping it may reach the eyes of all who helped to bring the High Mass up to such an ideal standard. The great addition of the Orchestra was a gift of one who regards all his gifts as a privilege which he is “grateful to be permitted to give to St. Alban’s, as a token of his love to the Church and Clergy”!’

Extract from St Alban’s Holborn - A History of 50 years. June 26 1907: presentation to Fr Stanton: ‘Within a few minutes after the opening of the doors [of Holborn Town Hall] the Orchestra, under the direction of Mr T. Adams, began to play, and played until the meeting began. Between the pieces the whole audience, led by the men of St. Alban’s choir, sang hymns with the band accompanying…It was good to see and hear it all, good especially to hear them sing, with the deep, supporting music of the strings and drums, the Hymns, and the song of “Old Acquaintance”.

'On Thursday 19th December Evensong will be at 5, and at 8 p.m. the Choir will sing the cantata Mater Christi, our Organist, Mr. Thomas Adams, the composer of the Cantata, being at the Organ.'

Extract from a letter to Fr. Stanton from a friend. ‘Moscow, December 6th. I attended Vespers and High Mass in the Cathedral of the Saviour. It was like a dream. Many think it is worthwhile to come to Moscow for this service alone. For three hours two choirs sang in response to each other, while priests chanted behind the gates of the sanctuary. I had heard nothing like it before, a harmony unknown to Western Catholicism. Plainsong, dirge, Gregorian, they were all there, but transposed, transfigured into cadences, throbbings, sighs…I wandered out to the Novospasky Monastery today. I found the begumen [abbot] chanting with his monks in a crypt, wonderful to behold; he wore a tiara of velvet and pearls, and a cope of crimson and gold…He had a distant resemblance to our Lord, and this is a gift as deeply valued in Russia as the stigmata are valued by us. It is impossible to clearly judge the Oriental Church; they are incomprehensible by our standards.’

Lent 1908: ‘To say that the Church has been crowded on Monday nights gives but a small idea of the numbers that have flocked to hear Fr. Stanton’s sermons on “The Prodigal Son”. For some two hours before the service, people began to pour into the church, so that every corner was used in order to try not to disappoint the people. They came from all parts; and one says who ought to know - that in all parts of the world, in India, Africa, Australia, and America, Father Stanton’s influence is being felt, and his photograph is to be seen.’

June: ‘Mr. E.F. Sidney and the ladies who are members of the Choir Committee have asked me to say we need help, and sadly need it, for the cleaning of our beautiful organ. This is a large matter, for it has never been cleaned - even though it is in Holborn - since it was put up under the personal direction of the late Mr. Willis. All our readers, I think, can now see that it must need cleaning very badly - but it will cost money; great care has been taken to find out how much, and experts have told us that £90 is about the sum we must expect it to cost. Will all lovers of our music help us?’

September: ‘As I write the news reaches me that another old and faithful friend and fellow-worker - Charles Lamb - has passed to his rest. To my knowledge he has been with us for more than 30 years. He sang for many years in the Choir, and for many years did yeoman’s work as Secretary of our Temperance Society…His departure from us is like the disappearance of a conspicuous tree in a familiar landscape. We shall miss his friendly presence and greeting, Sunday by Sunday, and at every parochial occasion. May God grant him eternal rest!

October: ‘Mr. F.E. Sidney is very anxious to receive help for the great undertaking of the cleaning of our Organ, which has this week commenced. There will be a Sale of Work for this purpose early in December, and Mrs. Satow will be pleased to receive any articles that our various friends may send to help us in this Sale.’

December: ‘Mrs. Wrentmore, who you will remember departed this life the day after All Souls’ last year, was always doing good and working in such a quiet way for the Church and poor. As an instance of this, Mr. Wrentmore found carefully put away 1,120 three-penny pieces collected by her, and he has most kindly given it to the Organ Cleaning Fund.’

‘The social evening on Wednesday 20th was very successful. About 150 sat down to a substantial tea, and many more came for the Entertainment at 8. This was universally pronounced “first-class”, and as our audiences are decidedly critical, this may be taken as high praise. The exquisite Violin Sonatas given by Mr. Walenn (brother to our late Organist) were a delight that does not often come our way, and though the Hall was packed there was not a sound - even from the babies! The very witty and clever comic sketches were equally appreciated, and altogether it was an evening never to be forgotten. We cannot sufficiently thank the friends who so kindly gave their time and trouble - coming from a distance - to give us this treat.’

1910: ‘We have had a glorious Easter, brightened by the presence of large congregations, who have deeply appreciated the stately ritual, the beautiful music, and our well-loved church looking, after its cleaning, the very picture of what a sanctuary of God ought to look. In speaking of the music, it is only just that I should say how much I admired the steadiness with which our Organist, Mr. Adams, and the Choir, dealt with an embarrassing breakdown of the blowing apparatus of the organ at High Mass on Easter Day. The service proceeded without the slightest break or hesitation, a fact which says much for the efficiency of Organist and Choir.’

‘On Thursday, May 19th, at 8 p.m., the Mater Christi, by Mr. Thomas Adams, will be sung in our Church. The collection last time did cover the expenses with a little over, I am glad to say, and now I am permitted by Fr. Stanton to say that the Choir Fund on the 19th shall not lose by the performance, for should there be a deficit he has most kindly promised to make it good.’

Since my last letter to you all London has been in mourning, and I may say not only London, but the entire British Empire, and indeed the whole civilised world; for, on May 6th, God took to Himself the soul of our well-beloved Sovereign, King Edward VII…We had Requiems on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th - the day of that wonderful funeral; and a Solemn Requiem on Thursday 19th, the last day of his Lying-in-State in Westminster Hall. That all our people wished to do all they could for our King was shown by the large congregation at the High Mass on the 19th.’

‘The accustomed arrangements for August will follow the pattern of past years - no choir on Sunday or week-day, no Catechism on Sunday afternoon, but on Monday evenings the always popular, always crowded Evening Prayer and Sermon by Father Stanton.’

‘Father Stanton’s Mondays in August were, if possible, attended by larger congregations than ever. Many of you may have read a very interesting account of these Monday services in the Church Times. Well, the Monday after that account… hundreds were unable to get into the church, or even into the courtyard! This fact made it necessary for the Vicar and Churchwardens to get estimates at once for causing our large north and south doors to open both outward and inward in case of any panic.’

February 1911: ‘A word of thanks must be given to Mr. Martin and the Prudential. The care they have taken and the good taste they have shown in the building, with its chapel in the roof, commends itself to us all.’

‘This year Patronal Festival must be kept on Wednesday 21st June, as the King has, indirectly, honoured us by choosing the Feast of St. Alban the Proto-Martyr of Great Britain for his Coronation Day.’

December: ‘It is a great pleasure to all who live in Brooke Street to see that the Chief Constable, at my urgent request, has placed a police constable in Brooke Street. Some are feeling a sense of security, for which they are very grateful. Also, I may report that the Postmaster General has granted the request of several in and near Brooke Street, and will place a letter-box in Brooke Street*. This will be a great boon, and we are very grateful to him.’ *I presume this is the post box which still stands a few yards from the clergy house. Not so the police constable, however!

‘We have had a beautiful Christmas, and several have written to say how much they appreciated the music, both at the Midnight Mass and at the High Mass on Christmas Day, and how they are looking forward to Mr. Thomas Adams’ new Cantata The Nativity on Wednesday evening, January 17, at 8 p.m.’

1912: ‘On Wednesday evening, January 17, we had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Thomas Adams’ new cantata The Nativity. The congregation showed their appreciation by their presence…The weather was against us, for it was a night of rain and damp… Mr. Thomas Adams is to be congratulated, and the Choir, for the performance was worthy of his great talent.’

March 27th: ‘Mr. Thomas Adams’ new cantata, The Story of Calvary, was sung with great spirit and true devotion on Wednesday, March 6, and I hear nothing but praise of it, and from those who are capable of giving a musical opinion of its merit. It is to be sung again this evening, and I understand that a large number of people are expected to be with us, and also that some professionals are expected to be amongst that number, a good report of the first performance having reached their ears.'

‘In this time of unrest and suffering caused by the coal strike and other reasons, it will be a comfort to many to know that we are having twelve hours’ intercession on the Thursdays; but Maundy Thursday will be kept as a Special Thanksgiving for the great gift of the Most Holy Sacrament.’

‘On Thursday November 21, the Eve of St. Cecilia, at 8 p.m., there will be sung a Selection of Music by the Choir, as their gift to the Choir Fund. No tickets will be needed; but I will request your help at the collection…and I will mention that this is the revival of an old St. Alban’s custom.’

£ s. d.
Organist’s salary 160 0 0
Organ maintenance 63.15. 3
Mens' & boys' salaries 336. 7. 0
Instrumentalists 49.10. 6
Music 9.10. 1
Miscellaneous 80.16. 8
699.19. 6

April 1st 1913, Fr. Stanton’s funeral: The Guardian reported: ‘Exceedingly impressive was the entire requiem service, which was preceded by the chanting, antiphonally, of Matins for the Dead. The music was beautifully rendered from beginning to end…The procession (from Holborn to Waterloo) was marked by its simplicity and deep spiritual significance. It was headed by the churchwardens of St. Alban’s. Immediately after was an acolyte swinging a censer. Held high aloft was a silver crucifix and on either side were acolytes with lighted lanterned candles. Next came the choir of St. Alban’s, singing hymns along the whole route. Behind them were over 100 clergy all surpliced and wearing birettas. The coffin itself was in the centre of the procession. It was wheeled along on a low bier, and covered with a pall of black and white, the edges of which were held by the clergy of the parish. The relatives were immediately behind, and following them was a vast army of general mourners.’ Fr. Suckling afterwards said that: ‘All would desire me to thank Mr. Adams and the Choir for the beauty of the music.’

Fr. Suckling wrote in the Parish Paper of his memories of Fr. Stanton, citing especially Fr. Stanton's Monday evening services in August: ‘In past years, I know not how many years ago - it occurred to Father Stanton to offer those who here and there in London, were not on holiday, the opportunity of a week-day special service during the month of August. He fixed upon the Mondays, and he made the service as unconventional and congregational as it could possibly be. At first there were not many who responded, but each year the numbers increased until, latterly, hundreds were turned away long before the service began, the Church being crowded in every part - nave, aisles, choir, while at the West end the unseated space was filled with those who were content to stand for the whole time. It was a heart-stirring experience to hear those eight hundred people sing the familiar hymns to familiar tunes, helped by an organ accompaniment as sympathetic as any I have ever heard. And Father Stanton was at these times at his very best. Absolutely at his ease, with no fear of being misunderstood, sure of his audience, understanding them, loving them and loved by them, he swayed their minds and hearts much as a musician subdues his instrument to his will and feeling, moving them at one time to tears, at another to laughter, always interesting them, charming them, and sending them away happy and with faith and hope renewed.’

‘On December 9th, within the Octave of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the cantata Mater Christi was sung. It forms a beautiful devotional exercise for the Feasts of Our Lady, being planned and arranged primarily to that end, and not simply for the enjoyment which the music gives. The interest in the Cantata, and the appreciation which it won at first, have not declined. Hearing it for the eighth time, the whole impression of the service is as religious, as uplifting, and as delightful as when we heard it for the first time. We missed only - and in this how much we missed! - the few words that, in the middle or at the end - the dear compiler and builder of the whole scheme was wont to address to us. Hitherto he had always been present with us, and always looked happy. The service was to the glory of the Incarnate Word, and to the honour of the peerless instrument of the Incarnation, Mary ever-Virgin, and this brought content and satisfaction to his soul. The Cantata will always remind us of him, and have for us an association deeper than the fact that the words were all of his choice and arranged in his order.

‘The attendance was as large as ever, the church being, with only a few places vacant here and there, quite full. The Choir never sang more sweetly, with more finished care, or with more feeling. There was a reason for this beyond the highest, for it had been announced that after the Cantata a presentation would be made to Mr. T. Adams, our Organist, the composer of the music, as an expression of the high appreciation in which his skill as Organist and Choirmaster is held by all who worship at St. Alban’s, and of their gratitude for the help and pleasure of his music.

‘At the conclusion of the service, Father Hogg invited Mr. Adams to come to the chancel screen, and speaking to and for the congregation, said as follows:-
"Before we part tonight, it is my pleasing duty to perform an act which I feel sure will be acceptable to all who are present, and to all those who have been and who are associated with our church and its services. I can only express my deep regret, which I feel convinced everybody will also share, that the Vicar himself is not here tonight to undertake an office which would have afforded him the greatest pleasure, for he yields to none in his appreciation of, and his regard for, our esteemed organist, Mr. Adams.

‘"Mr. Adams has endeared himself to us all, not only by his high accomplishment as a musician, but also by his unvarying courtesy and kindness to all whom he has met, and particularly, I may say, to the Clergy, who have on many occasions owed him a debt of gratitude. Mr. Adams …was appointed on St. Alban’s Day in the year 1888, and he completed his Twenty-Fifth Anniversary on St. Alban’s Day of the present year. And when we consider the place that music has, both in our lives and in our religion, his work has been by no means a slight one.

‘"Music is well considered to be the most ancient of all the arts. We read in the Bible that in the days before the Flood, Jubal, son of Lamech, was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. (Genesis iv. 21.) And in the Book of Job - a book of very great antiquity - mention is made of those who take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ”. (Job xx1. 12.) But if music is the most ancient of all the arts, it will, according to God’s word, outlive all the arts; for when all the rest have passed away with the things of this earth, we are told that in the New Jerusalem there will be harpers harping with their harps and making melody, as the Angels and redeemed sing their songs before the Great White Throne.

‘"Such being the case, it only follows that music has ever been consecrated to the service of God. That service consists mainly in two great features. The one is that of Prophesy, and the other is that of Sacrifice; and in both these elements of religion music has ever had its place. We read in the Second Book of Kings, that when the Prophet Elisha was asked by the King of Israel to foretell the issues of his kingdom he declined to do so until the minstrel was brought. Bring me a minstrel he said. And it came to pass when the minstrel played that the hand of the Lord came upon him. (2 Kings iii. 15.)

‘"How often in our own experience - and we have noticed the case of others - has not music been an inspiration, which has excited our emotions and brought out the deepest feelings of the heart! And this I think we may feel has been the case here. How often have not our hearts been touched by the sweet and solemn music which our organist has given us on various occasions - such as, for instance, the funeral marches at the burial of the dead, or the solemn strains of the Stabat Mater, the Good Friday service; or in the joyous times, such as Christmas and Easter! Our hearts have often been uplifted by the beautiful music he has provided for us; and I think we may feel that at those Monday evening services which have been so celebrated, the effect produced by his playing - we may say with all respect and regard for the preacher, as well as the congregation - has contributed in no slight degree to the enthusiasm with which those services have been met.

‘"And the other element of religion in which music has always found a part, has been that of Sacrifice. We read in the Mosaic Ritual that the priests, the sons of Aaron, blew the trumpets over the burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of the peace offerings, and thus made them a memorial before the Lord (Numbers x. 10.)

‘"And as in the olden times so in the Christian Church, music, since the days of St. Ambrose and St. Gregory down through the long line of distinguished composers, has ever had its place in the most solemn and the most blessed Sacrifice that has ever been made before the Face of God. And so I have no doubt we all of us feel with regard to the services of our church here. This solemn service of the Mass has been the one to which our organist has devoted special care and attention.

‘"My dear friends, I will not keep you any longer tonight, but I wish, in concluding, to present in your name a Testimonial which has been got together by members of the congregation and his personal friends for our esteemed Organist; and I will just read to you the Address which is on the front page of this booklet, containing the names or the initials of those who have taken part in this most agreeable work: The following Testimonial is presented to Mr. Thomas Adams, Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, by the Clergy, Churchwardens, Choir, and members of the congregation of St. Alban’s, Holborn, in grateful recognition of the distinguished services which he has so faithfully rendered during the past twenty-five years as Organist and Choirmaster of the Church. Together with this Address, I have the great pleasure on your behalf of presenting Mr. Adams with a cheque of the sum which has been subscribed."’

March 1914: ‘On Wednesday 4th, the Stabat Mater will be sung at 8 p.m. The Stabat Mater (Rossini) represents the offering of the gentlemen and boys of the Choir - first, in homage to the Passion of our Divine Redeemer, and to the honour of His sorrowing Mother; and next to the Memorial of Father Stanton. Our Choir, who have already contributed to the Fund, are giving their services in addition to their gifts, as a further contribution to the memorial to one whom they remember with reverence and love and gratitude. The collection made on this evening will be given, without any subtraction for expenses, entirely to the Memorial Fund.’

‘On March 28th we kept the Year’s Mind of our dear friend. At 6, 7, 8.30, and 9, Masses were said for him, and at 11 o’clock with the full ritual and full choir, and with all possible solemnity we sang the Mass for the repose of his soul. Many made their communions in the early morning, and at 11 the church was well-nigh full.’

August: ‘The foundations of the Stanton Memorial have now been laid; they rest upon the clay, ten feet or so below the level of the floor…Thus far had I written, and the printers had set up my manuscript in type, when, as from the clear sky, there burst upon us the appalling calamity of war, war on a scale without precedent, to be fought out on sea and land and in the very sky. No imagination can picture the horrors that must follow in the train of such a war, the concentrated and prolonged agony, mental as well as physical, on battle-fields, in hospitals, as well as in the homes of those who are in the field. Some of us have been clinging desperately to the hope that our country might not be involved in the welter of the awful conflict, hoping that, consistently with honour and our obligations, it might be possible for us to hold off. But this hope has been blown to pieces by the rapid sequence of events, and we find ourselves, in spite of the hate of war and the desire at almost any cost to avoid it, driven to take up arms and enter the arena with the rest.’ E.F.R.

September: ‘The children insist on their share in the war preparations that they see going on all around them. All over London you will see them in little companies, with paper cocked hats, toy guns, wooden swords, and with old tea tins for drums, marching and counter-marching, making a great noise, and attracting a good deal of amused attention from the passers-by in the crowded streets. How little they realise what War means!'

‘The decision that work on the Stanton Memorial was to be suspended until the ending of the War has been rescinded. We had understood that the workmen engaged in the Chantry would find full employment elsewhere; but this proved not to be the case and so, rather than that they should be thrown out of work, the Committee decided to go on with the building.

‘Everybody is hit financially, everyone has greater expenses to meet; the cost of living is higher, and there are fresh needs - needs of great urgency - that make their claims upon our purse. Under these conditions it is impossible that the funds of the church should remain uninfluenced and at their former level. In every direction we are making fresh economies, fresh retrenchments, shaving off everything that is of the nature of a luxury. It is not perhaps the whole truth to speak of the music of the church as a pure luxury; at the same time it cannot be called a necessity. Occasions may conceivably arise when every adjunct of divine worship must be foregone, just as so often in times past…We have been thinking whether the time had not now come when for awhile our services should be reduced to a state of primitive simplicity. Happily we have been helped out of this difficulty by the loyalty, the public spirit (I might use a higher word) of our Choir, who have unanimously agreed to continue to sing as heretofore, so long as the War shall last, without fee or reward, save that each will be content with his proportionate share of the funds, however small, which may be specially contributed for the music. Those who love music, and are glad that the music of the church will continue at its old high level of beauty and perfectness, will appreciate the friendly, generous action of the Choir.’ E.F.R.

‘Mr. Frederick Gill has gone from us (R.I.P.). He passed away on Sunday, October 4th, dying of cancer and old age…Only a few were able to be at his funeral Mass which was at 10 a.m. on October 8, and was beautifully conducted by Mr. Thomas Adams…He was one of a little band of men who offered their services to Father Mackonochie on his appointment as first Vicar to this, at that time, newly-formed parish. The new Church was complete but not yet consecrated, so to save time Father Mackonochie started services in the underground kitchen in Greville Street…Frederick Gill is the last of that little group who, in those days of the beginnings of the work here, worshipped in the Greville Street cellar. After the Consecration of the Church, ho took his place in the Choir, and sang for years until his powerful voice became too harsh for the more elaborate music which replaced the simple plainsong. Those who remember St. Alban’s in the seventies and eighties will recall his conspicuous figure in the Choir. Tall, erect, square-shouldered, and with close-cropped hair, he had the aspect of a soldier…From the year 1862 until the present year, he worked continuously for us in Church in various capacities, as choirman, as server, sidesman, Churchwarden, and as a member of almost all Committees…He wished to be buried in his server’s cassock. The coffin was to be plain. There were to be no flowers; and at the funeral only one carriage with brown horses. Further, we were to ask the Colonel of his old regiment to allow the use of the Colour to cover his coffin, and two buglers to blow the Last Post over his grave. There was to be a plainsong Mass of Requiem, with a violoncello added to the organ; and the hymns were to be O Jesu Lord, remember, and Lead, kindly Light. Every detail of his wishes was carried out.’

‘Christmas Day was in many places kept by cessation from fighting. Reports reach me that the private soldiers brought it about, and that with many Germans in friendly talks, they agreed to have a day of rest and freedom from fighting, and that they expressed themselves as “sick of the war”, and hoped that it would soon end. A request was made to the Irish to sing It’s a long way to Tipperary, which the Irish did, to the great satisfaction of the Germans. The time closed, and they shook hands saying “Now we must fight”.’

March 1915: ‘The hymn books in Church are for the benefit of strangers. Our regular congregation should always bring their own.’

‘I must thank Mr. Adams and the gentlemen of the Choir for the beauty, the feeling, and the finish of their singing at the Year’s Mind of our dear friend Father Stanton.’

August: ‘A stranger coming along Brooke Street might suppose that the Church was being protected by a trench, for the roadway is barred by high mounds of earth and gravel. These have been thrown up in the construction of a subway connecting two blocks of the Prudential Buildings. The mounds have, each of them, received names from our children; they are Hill 60 or Hill 68, or any other number which has recently figured in the accounts of the fighting in Flanders. Many times a day they are stormed, taken and retaken in the happy moments when the sappers and miners are away at dinner or have gone home to tea. Sometimes the conflict, attack and defence, is too realistic to be pleasant, and passers-by have to look out for clods of earth and even rocks!’

‘The Stanton Memorial is now nearing the completion of its architecture. It is indeed a splendid memorial, rich in exquisite carved work and in decoration. To some the blaze of gold has seemed excessive, but this is a splendour which with every hour as it passes will subdue. Mr. Comper, it is said, aims in his decoration at an effect which shall be, not at the first moment right in light and colour, but ultimately and permanently, when time and the smoke-laden, acid-laden air of London shall have done their work.’

‘Our congregation are doing their own singing as the Choir is away. The music is not perfect, yet to many of us it has its charm, and our hard-worked Organist has been able to get a short, much-needed, well-earned holiday.’

‘We have just passed through All Saints and All Souls. Fr. Pearkes preached to us from Exodus xii 30: ‘There was not a house where there was not one dead.’ This was a picture of the present distress, for people on all sides had lost their near and dear, and were lamenting their losses.’

‘We passed through Christmas well, and though we were obliged from circumstances to forego our midnight High Mass, yet we did our best. We had our usual Christmas Day Masses with a beautiful sermon from Father Russell, and in the evening we had carols and so spent a happy time. The singing was remarked upon as quite up to the usual mark, if not beyond it. Midnight Christian/Minuit Chrétien has been sung here at St. Alban’s at the Midnight Mass for over forty years.’

Patronal Festival 1916: ‘First and foremost, a word of sympathy to those who felt it was shorn of some of its glory by the omission of outside festivities. We were all sorry that this was necessary - especially did we regret the sociable supper in the Town Hall. The Festival proper, ie the Services, was richer than ever! The keynote was struck on the Eve. Who could join in the glorious St. Alban’s Hymn without a thrill of thankful exultation?..Then the Festival personal. The Lord’s words Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, so especially applicable to St. Alban, must surely have come home to everyone with peculiar force and meaning in this tremendous year of sacrifice.’

It seems that, by February 1917, most of St. Alban's choirmen had been conscripted into the Armed Forces. A plea went out in the Parish Paper for singers: 'Up to the present we have not heard of any volunteers for the Choir from the members of the congregation, but I was much touched by a kindly act on the part of Mr. W. Knott, who, although in his eighty-ninth year, came over from Stamford Hill last Sunday in order that we might not be without a tenor…A member of the congregation has kindly promised to arrange for us to have, from Easter to Whitsuntide, the assistance of a professional tenor without cost to ourselves. For this I am most grateful, and it will be an encouragement to the Choir. I have not yet ceased to wonder at the good results obtained from so small a body, and I venture to think it does credit to all concerned.’

'In last month’s letter I announced that we were to have the services of a professional tenor without cost to the Choir Fund. This has inspired another friend to be responsible for the stipend of an alto, and I am hoping to hear that a similar offer has been made to provide the same for a bass. If different members of the congregation would endow individual singers, we should be able to strengthen the Choir without trespassing on the Choir Fund, which is in a very weak state of health!'

March: ‘You will notice on the list of services for Holy Week that we propose to bless the Paschal Candle after Evensong of Easter Eve. A translation by Father Mitchell of the ancient and interesting chant Exsultet may be obtained from Mr. Knott, and Mr. Adams is fitting the English words to the old plainsong melody.'

‘I want to call attention to the fact that on Wednesday, June 13, a performance will be given of Mater Christi at 8 p.m., at which we shall have the assistance of some professional singers without cost to ourselves, their fees being defrayed by the Butt-Rumford Fund. For this we are indebted to Madame Clara Butt.’

Fr. Suckling resigned with effect from August 1916, and died in September 1917. ‘On Thursday September 27th, his body was brought by road from Ascot, and rested for the last time in St. Alban’s Church. It was met by the Vicar [Fr. Frith] and Clergy at the West door and, after the recitation of the opening sentences of the Burial Office, was placed in the chancel between six great candles, and flowers banked on either side against the choir stalls. A pall covered the coffin, and on it his biretta and stole. Vespers of the Dead were said in choir at 6 o’clock and, in spite of the raids and alarms which marked that week, was attended by a large congregation…It was remarked that Thursday evening was the only evening in a terrible week that London was spared a visitation or alarm of enemy aircraft. The simplicity which should be the mark of all Christian funerals was emphasised in this case by curtailments imposed by military considerations. Thus on the stroke of seven, as throughout that moon-lit week, the Church doors were locked. Fr. Suckling’s last rest in St. Alban’s was one of unbroken peace. On the following morning Requiems were said at 6, 7, 7.45 and 8.30; at the last of these services the school children were present…Some two hundred mourners journeyed to Brookwood for the interment.’

‘In addition to the customary solemnities of All Souls’ Day, a Solemn Requiem for the souls of those who have fallen in the war will be sung on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 11 o’clock. On November 11 and during the rest of the month a Litany of the Departed will be sung on Sundays after Evensong.’

1918: ‘On April 8th a large congregation assembled to witness the marriage of Mr. T. Adams and Miss Hogan… All readers of this Paper will be glad to have their hearty good wishes expressed for them, as we hereby beg to do.’ Miss Hogan was a member of St. Alban's congregation, as were her parents.

‘The High Mass on St. Alban’s Day was well attended, although it happened to be a Saturday…The afternoon was a marked occasion. Most of our readers know of the institution and induction of Fr. Ross* by the Bishop of London. Many of them were present, and many of them would have liked to have been; as it was, a number of applicants from outside had to be refused, so great was the eagerness to obtain admission. A Festival in these days is inseparable from the memory of the absent members of the congregation who would also be rejoicing with us, were they at home. Many alas! have been called away from our sight, though not from our midst, and so it was thought well to associate the memory of the departed with the Festival by singing a Requiem Mass on the Wednesday during the Octave. On the Eve, Vespers of the Dead were sung solemnly, and a sermon on the state of the departed was preached by the Rev. A.H.O. McCheane, Minor Canon of St. Paul’s. On Monday morning, St. John the Baptist Day, High Mass was sung at 11…High Mass was sung on St. Peter’s Day, the Octave of St. Alban’s; and then on the following day, after the Sunday High Mass, the Te Deum was solemnly sung as an act of praise and thanksgiving, summing up and expressing the thoughts and feelings of those who had been privileged to serve God.’ *Fr. Frith was Vicar of St. Alban's for a short time only, and was succeeded by Fr. Ross.

September/October: Fr. Ross wrote: ‘We need a Voluntary Choir very badly. We need for the choir. When is that Voluntary Choir coming along? I shall get anxious soon…and you will agree that our Sunday evening services would be much improved in the singing line if we had some men to lead us. Now, my brothers, if you can sing a bit, here is your chance. I want to have that choir somehow.’

October: ‘The dangerous illness of our organist continues, and it is my painful experience to tell you all, that his doctor has informed me definitely that there is no hope of his returning to his post. This will be a grief to you all and it is doubly so to me to think that it happens just as I arrive here. Our prayers are still asked for him, and our sympathies are with him and his wife at this anxious time. Mr. A. Sidney Marks is commencing as organist this month, and we wish him all success.’

Fr. Ross renewed his pleas for singers: ‘We want a Voluntary Choir. Men will be welcomed by Mr. Marks at St. Alban’s Hall, Baldwin’s Gardens, on Fridays at choir practice, 6-7, though this time will probably be re-adjusted to meet convenience. Mr. Marks will also form and train a ladies’ choir, to lead the singing on holy days and to assist generally. That Voluntary Choir - or rather the lack of it - is on my nerves. The Sunday evening services are the weakest I have ever attended. We need strengthening as badly as it is possible to need. I make another appeal to men with voices to come and help.’

Thomas Adams died on 4th November 1918, aged 61. The parish magazine recorded: 'Early on Monday morning, Nov 4th, the long illness of Thomas Adams, our late organist, ended, and he entered Rest. All who knew him well, and all who have been helped and aided by his skilful and brilliant accomplishments on the organ, and by the music he has written, will doubtless remember his soul before God. He could and did aid us all to ‘praise God upon the strings and pipes’, and his loss will be widely and keenly felt, and not easily will his place be filled. His body was brought into the church on the Thursday evening, with Solemn Vespers of the Dead, and an address by the Vicar. On Friday, Nov 8th, Masses were offered for his repose at 6, 7.15 and 8.30, and the Burial Office and Solemn Requiem was at 10 o’clock. The three priests with whom he had been long associated at St. Alban’s, officiated - Fr. Hogg as celebrant; Fr. Russell as deacon; and Fr, Pearkes as Sub-Deacon. After the Absolutions of the Dead, the body was taken to the St. Alban’s ground on Brookwood Cemetery and the committal and last prayers were said by the Vicar. The grave is immediately behind those of Fr. Mackonochie, Fr. Stanton, and Fr. Suckling, and there, under the shadow of the great Cross, he rests in good company, awaiting the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.’

In February 1948, the new Vicar, Fr. Startup, wrote: ‘I had one experience at Christmas which taught me quite a lot. At times people from other churches have complained to me that “changes” have been made in their old customs and perhaps I have not always been as sympathetic as I ought. I suppose all of us have favourite hymns and favourite tunes to those hymns and we sometimes say that we do not feel in the Christmas or Easter mood until we have sung a particular hymn. I have to confess I am just the same and so it was on Christmas Eve, I asked that we should sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. Now, at St. Alban’s, we have our own special tune for that hymn, a very lovely tune which I believe was composed by a previous organist of the church. Unfortunately on Christmas Eve I had never heard that tune before and when the pianist began to play it, I really felt quite disappointed. “Oh dear!”, I thought, “it isn’t what I have always been used to. Christmas will never seem the same again”. Of course, I realised the change had not been made deliberately to hurt my feelings and that there had been a complete ignorance of my own affection for another tune. And how good it was for me to hear and learn a new one. It has enlarged my experience, and now there are two tunes to “O Little Town” for me to love and to be associated in my memories with happy Christmasses.’

March 1948, Vicar’s letter: ‘Last month I ought to have checked my information with regard to our own tune for “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. I wrote somewhat in haste, but I ought to have said it was composed by Mr. Thomas Adams, who was our organist for 30 years and the 30th anniversary of whose death we shall be remembering this year. Many thanks to those who have both written and spoken to me about him and his work. I do love the strengthening through the memories of our friends of the links between us today and those of the past who helped to build up our great traditions.’

December 1949: THE ANNUAL BAZAAR. ‘I doubt if any introduction is needed of our opener on the second day. The name of THOMAS ADAMS will ever be remembered at S. Alban’s as borne by one of our greatest organists and choirmasters. He died in 1918 but every year by tradition we sing the Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” to the tune he composed. Mrs. Adams has always taken a great interest in S. Alban’s and has done so much work here. It will be a joy to have her with us on this occasion.’

April 1950: ‘A very beautifully bound Lectern Bible has been given to the church by Mrs. Thomas Adams in memory of her husband, for so many years our noted organist.’ We still have the Lectern Bible, and our Master of Ceremonies, Simon Jones, will be pleased to show it to anyone who would like to see it.

Mrs Thomas Adams died on 14th August 1950 and now rests at Brookwood with the man who was her husband for those seven short months in 1918. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hogan, are buried there too.

Christine Petch
31 March, 2005

Thomas Adams the composer
A number of Thomas Adams’ cantatas were published by Novello & Co, including:

Mater Christi (a setting of a text written by Fr Stanton) (1906)
The Nativity (1910)
The Story of Calvary (1912)
Cross of Christ
Golden Harvest
The Holy Child
Rainbow of Peace

In the Village Organist series from Novello & Co. there are five compositions by Thomas Adams: Marche Solennelle (1898), Vesper Melody (1898), Short Fantasia on “Abridge”, (1899), Alla Marcia in D (1899), Allegro Pomposo (1906) and Short Fantasia on “Veni Creator Spiritus” (1907). He also contributed five short pieces to Short Preludes vols. 1-5 1909-10 (Novello) and a Grand Choeur in D (1911).

At least two of his hymn tunes were published, Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire, written for St Alban’s Holborn, and O little town of Bethlehem.

Music performed at St. Alban's under Thomas Adams
(Dates in brackets denote first known performance at St. Alban’s, Holborn.)

Abt Ave Maria (May 1893)
Ave verum (24.11.01)
O Lord most holy (16.12.00)
Adam, Adolph Midnight, Christian/Noel
Adams Mass in D (July 1900)
Mass in F (17.12.11)
Missa Coronata (4.5.02)
A Christmas song (6.1.07, Epiphany)
All hail, dear conqueror (16.4.11, Easter Day)
Ask, and it shall be given unto you (11.2.12)
At last thou art come (24.12.10)
Ave Maria (April 1893)
Bread of the world (July 1893)
Christmas bells (25.12.11)
For all the saints (11.10.08)
Hail! Breath of life (15.5.10, Whitsunday)
I am he that liveth (Low Sunday,1899)
If any man sin (24.3.01, Passion Sunday)
If I go not away (May 1898)
In the hallowed manger (27.12.08)
Lauda Sion, salvatorem (26.5.10, Corpus Christi)
Like as the hart (June 1893)
Mother, whose virgin bosom was uncrost (Mater Christi)
Nearer my God to thee (Nov 1894)
O little town of Bethlehem (1.1.11)
Rock of ages (4.2.12)
Sleep, baby, sleep (5.1.08)
The angelic salutation (10.4.10)
The eyes of all (Oct 1894)
The hallowed manger (30.12.00)
The heavenly babe (24.12.94)
The Lord is thy keeper (4.10.08)
There came three kings (12.1.02)
Veni Creator (May 1893, Whitsunday)
Bach/Gounod Meditation (Ave Maria?) (Jan 1894)
Barnby Mass/responses in E
The anthem of peace
When I view the Mother (Jan 1899)
Beethoven Mass in C
Alleluia chorus
Bennett God is a spirit
Blair Mass (26.6.10)
Bridge Bowe-bells Carol (27.12.14)
Buck, Dudley Judge me, O God (6.2.10)
Byrd Mass for five voices (introduced 18.12.10)
Callcott Hymn of peace (31.7.10)
Cherubini Mass in A
Coronation Mass (Whitsun, 1893)
Crotch Lo, star-led chiefs (16.1.10)
Dvorak Blessed Jesu (Stabat Mater)
God is my shepherd (17.4.10)
Hear my prayer (18.9.10)
Eyre Mass in E flat (Oct 1893)
Fauré Les Rameaux
Foster Mass in E flat
Hail, thou living bread (18.10.08)
Hail, O blood of Jesus (1.7.17)
O panis dulcissime (April 1893)
The precious blood (July 1893)
Goller Mass in E flat, op. 25
Goss O saviour of the world (March 1893)
Gounod Mass in E flat
Messe Sacré Cœur
Messe des Orpheonistes
Messe de Paques
Messe Solennelle in C
Messe Solennelle in D
Kyrie, Mors et Vitae (5.1.13)
Kyrie, Requiem (July 1894)
All ye who weep
Angel-hosts descending (20.7.02)
Ave verum (Feb 1894)
Come unto him
Jesu, word of God (27.10.01)
O salutaris
O sing to God
Power and Love (21.9.02)
Send out thy light
The King of love (April 1893)
The sacred heart (1.11.08)
There is a green hill far away (9.4.11, Palm Sunday)
Guilmant Mass in E flat (Easter Day, 1894)
Mass in F
Handel And the glory of the Lord
Angels ever bright and fair
But who may abide (26.11.11)
Comfort ye/every valley
For behold, darkness/The people that walked in darkness (13.12.08)
For unto us (25.12.11)
Hallelujah Chorus (19.4.08, Easter Day)
He shall feed his flock (Feb 1894)
How willing
I know that my redeemer liveth (3.5.08)
Lift up your heads (May 1893, Sunday after Ascension)
Rejoice greatly (Jan 1894)
Thou art gone up on high (8.5.10, Sunday after Ascension Day)
Thy rebuke/Behold and see (8.3.08)
Hargitt Ave Maria (Dec 1893)
Hummel Mass in B flat
Lutz Ave verum
Mann Mass/Responses in E flat
Merbecke Communion Service
Mendelssohn All things, all men, praise the Lord (Hymn of praise) (Sept 1895)
Be thou faithful unto death
Bone pastor (Oct 1898)
Caro cibus (Nov 1893)
Cast thy burden upon the Lord
He counteth all your sorrows (Hymn of praise) (Sept 1894)
He watching over Israel (Elijah) (Oct 1893)
How lovely are the messengers (St Paul)
In hac mensa (Lauda Sion) Oct 1893)
I waited for the Lord (Hymn of praise) (June 1894)
I will sing of thy great mercies (5.2.11)
If with all your hearts
Lauda Sion (1894)
Lord, at all times (14.5.11)
Lord God of Abraham (Jan 1894)
My song shall be always of thy mercy (June 1893)
O come everyone that thirsteth (23.1.10)
O come let us worship (30.1.10)
O for the wings of a dove (July 1894)
O God, have mercy (5.4.08, Passion Sunday)
O rest in the Lord (29.5.10)
Praise thou the Lord (Oct 1894)
Say, where is He born? (Jan 1896)
Sing ye praise (13.10.01)
The night is departing (Dec 1893)
The sorrows of death (Nov 1895)
Then shall the righteous (22.6.10, S. Alban’s Day)
Ye who from his ways (13.2.10)
Mozart Mass in B flat
Mass in C (?)
Ave verum
Judge me, O God
Novello Adeste fideles (30.12.00)
Like as the hart (10.7.10)
Oberthür Ave Maria (Jan 1898)
Palestrina Missa Aeterna Christi Munera
O bone Jesu
plainsong Missa de Angelis
Missa Regia
Rheinberger Mass in E (23.1.10)
Rossi Magnificat (Oct 1895)
Rossini Cujus animam (Stabat Mater, Palm Sunday, 1898)
O salutaris hostia (Nov 1893)
Sampson Responses
Ave verum
Schubert Mass in B flat
Mass in G
Silas Mass in C
Ave Maria (Oct 1895)
Tantum ergo (July 1900)
Smart Mass in F
Spohr And every creature
And lo, a mighty host (June 1895)
Blessing and honour (Sun in the Octave of S. Alban, 00)
Blest are the departed (Nov 1898)
Children, pray this love to cherish (24.7.10)
Come up hither
In this dread hour (Mar 1894)
Praise his awful name (Dec 1893)
Stainer Mass in A (May 1893)
A babe is born (5.1.02)
God so loved the world (20.2.10)
Love divine (1894)
My hope is in the everlasting (24.4.10)
Rejoice ye with Jerusalem (2.1.10)
Sullivan O that thou hadst hearkened (12.6.10)
Tours O saving victim (Oct 1893)
Wagner Prayer (Feb 1896)
Weber Mass in E flat
Mass in G
Wesley Blessed be the God and Father
God is a spirit (1893)
Zingarelli Laudate pueri (in the Octave of S. Alban, 1895)


Adams Veni creator spiritus
Bach Fugue in B min
Fugue in E flat
Best Fantasia in F
Elgar Pomp & circumstance (3.4.10, Low Sunday)
Garrett Postlude
Gounod Allegro moderato
Allegro pomposo
Marche militaire
Marche solennelle
Handel Overture in D
Hoyte Scherzo in B flat
Lemmens Marche Pontificale
Mendelssohn Fugue in C
Prelude & fugue in D minor
Mozart Grand choeur
Splendente te Deus
Salomé Grand Choeur
Schubert Overture “Rosamund”
Silas Allegro & fugue
West Allegro maestoso
Allegro pomposo
Easter melody
Prelude & fugue
Postlude in B flat

Page last modified: August 17, 2013