Southwark and South London Society of Organists Newsletter November 30th, 2022

From the Chair of the Society, John Webber:

Welcome to this newsletter! I hope that your musical preparations for December are going to plan.


It is good to welcome Chris Smith to our number. Chris lives in Lewisham (as did I in my school days) and is an organist in SE1. Our link is Paul Gobey.

Recent Meeting

On November 19th, about thirteen of us visited Christ Church, Streatham to see the original Hill organ of 1886 which had formerly been in West Croydon Congregational Church. It has three manuals and pedals. Bishop Rob Gillion is the Vicar and he made us welcome with a hot drink and biscuits on arrival. From there we went, mainly by 417 bus, to St. Peter’s, built in 1870 and a mile or so away in Leigham Court Road. James Furniss-Roe and David Chapman (organist and long standing choir member of St. Peter’s) had been with us at Christ Church. At St. Peter’s, David showed us some slides of the church and the organ, a four manual Hill, enlarged in 1903 from three manuals; other work has been done over the years to restore the instrument. You can see the two organs here, along with other photos from our visit.

Forthcoming Events

  • Our member Bridget West has produced our 2023 list of events on one sheet; you ought to have had a copy sent, but if not, see it here.
  • The first two events (only) will be on Mondays at 7.00p.m. on Zoom: a quiz on January 16th, and a discussion on the New Oxford Organ Method on February 6th.
  • The AGM is also on a Monday (March 6th.) and new Committee members will be needed. Let me know if this might interest you. Mainly we plan meetings (although 2023 is nicely buttoned up, so there’s not so much to do until the time of each event approaches), but there are other decisions to be made and the 2024 list of possible events will need attention.
  • We have eight people going to the Netherlands in late March to visit churches and to play organs. Anyone wanting to go will need to be on a reserve list.


Charlie Warren has announced that SSLSO has five new winners of our annual scheme to encourage new people to study the organ. This year we had an amazing 27 applications, so these five young people have done very well and are in the process of being matched to teachers: Sofia Kerr, Holly Wheal, N’Sira Wills-Diawara, Aden Wong and James Wong (not related). We watch with interest and hope to meet them in 2023.

Members’ Survey and Directory

We felt the need to update our information on members, so that (for example) we can provide names of people available to deputise. Quite a few of you have yet to reply; please do so, as it may be to your benefit! Our website manager has added a page to the website that provides the same explanation as on the forms, with a link to the 2 forms also. You can find the page here. It’s also linked from the home page.


Let Richard Pilliner know of forthcoming recitals on our contact form and he can publicise them from time to time.

The last “Recital Roundup” mentioned Richard Pinel’s event on Saturday, 10th December at 12:00 noon at the Church of the Most Precious Blood, O’Meara Street, London Bridge, SE1 1TA

He will be playing this programme:

  • Prelude and Fugue in G BWV 541 J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750)
  • Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 659 J.S. Bach
  • Sonata in C minor Percy Whitlock (1903–1946) ii. Canzona iii. Scherzetto
  • Pièce Héroïque César Franck (1822–1890)
  • from Five Pieces for Organ Healey Willan (1880–1968): Fanfare – Intermezzo – Finale Jubilante
  • from Troisième Symphonie Op. 28 Louis Vierne (1870–1937) iv. Adagio v. Final

(Richard Pinel has just started his new post as Director of Music at St. Mary’s, Bourne Street, near Sloane Square.)


  • Peter Smith refers to some incredible stop changes: “A friend sent me this link to a concert she sang in. See after 48:00 and 53:00. The organist is James Norrey.”
  • Bridget West has kindly provided this link to an item in Church Times about the ban in singing in churches during the pandemic.
  • From “News of Praxis” (liturgical magazine for C of E) we read from Anne Harrison: “The publishers of the long-awaited Revised English Hymnal reported in October that advanced proofs stage had been reached and that the full music edition of the hymn book would arrive in May 2023, with other editions following. They hope that a sampler will be available soon, both in print and online. About 185 of the 680 or so items in the new collection were not in the 1986 New English Hymnal.”
  • From the Secretary’s Letter of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Autumn 2022, Revd. Robert Canham writes: ‘The 250th. Anniversary of “Amazing Grace”: January 1st, 2023: “Oh, it was mercy indeed to save a wretch like me!” John Newton. John Newton wrote these words in his journal on 21st. March 1796 (at the age of 70), 48 years after his conversion. He had never forgotten that “great turning day” in 1748 when, as an obstreperous, rebellious young man, he was surprised to hear himself crying out during a violent storm at sea, “The Lord have mercy on us!” For it was on that day he discovered, “How precious did that grace appear, the day I first believed.” The words of Amazing Grace were etched on Newton’s heart daily. But it is assumed that he first wrote the hymn for his New Year’s Morning sermon of 1st. January 1773, for it fits his sermon notes so closely and the text he chose to write above the hymn in the Olney Hymns, 1 Chronicles 17:16,17, is identical to the sermon’s text. Fortuitously for us, 1st. January 2023 falls on a Sunday. So, if you are a Worship Leader or responsible for choosing hymns, please try to ensure that Amazing Grace is sung with a word of explanation. Some of the words have been changed or added to over the years.’ For the original words, please see the John Newton Project.

My aim is to produce the next newsletter on December 31st.

I wish you all well for the coming season and for next year.

Best wishes,