Choirs and Music Groups

“Methodism was born in song.” (First sentence of the Preface to “The Methodist Hymn-Book”, 1933.) Methodism sings its theology and all our services include congregational hymns and songs.

The Church Band: 1997-present

Monthly Family Worship services, fairly informal and suitable for all ages, are usually accompanied by an all-age band of strings, woodwind, brass and percussion with piano and keyboard. The Church Band meets to practice for an hour on the Sunday morning before these services and occasionally on a weekday evening a few days before a service. Malcolm Batchelor started the band in 1997 and led it until 1999. Since 1999, it has been led by Andrew Taylor.

Sunday Singers: 1996-present

Rather than have a regular choir, additional choral music (eg introits and anthems, vespers and carols) is provided on occasion by the Sunday Singers. The Sunday Singers meet regularly (fortnightly on Friday evenings) but individuals are free to choose whether to rehearse for each next occasion. Chris Bridges founded the Singers in 1996. He co-ordinates, leads and conducts.

Beeston Methodist Carol Choir: c.1870-present

At Christmas, the Carol Choir tours Beeston and Chilwell with its traditional carols.

History of Choirs no longer meeting

The Hooley Singers: 1983-2013

The Hooley Singers

The Hooley Singers were a small group of friends who met regularly (fortnightly on Friday evenings) and sang at occasional services and events, using songs from the Corrymeela, Iona, and Taizé Communities among others. The group was originally formed in 1983 but continued to provide a base for contemporary Christian music in worship, always looking at new music and new ways of worship, until early 2013. David Hooley co-ordinated, led and sometimes played guitar.

The Choir: 1902-1996

The Choir played an important part in the worship and life of the Church. A strong and enthusiastic choir, under Mr John Walker, came from the Chapel Street Society to Chilwell Road.

The Choir and Church were well served by our Organists and Choir Directors. Mr Hopkinson was remembered as a most accomplished organist, who provided a very sympathetic interpretation of the hymns. There was also a strong and capable choir, who regularly performed one of the great oratorios at the annual Choir Festival. Tom Moorley, who succeeded him, was an excellent choir trainer as well as a fine organist. During his years here, the Choir advanced in technique and interpretation and regularly won awards at Nottingham and other Music Festivals. They performed an anthem and introit each Sunday and special music for the various religious festivals. In addition they gave concert versions of “Merrie England” and “Tom Jones”, which were enjoyed by both choir and audience. Colin Clayton continued the work begun by Tom Moorley, including a performance of “Hymn of Praise” for the Choir Festival and a concert version of “The Mikado”.

Albert Buxton was a most expressive organist, giving to every hymn its own interpretation and creating a worshipful atmosphere whenever he played. Walter Morley was appointed as Choir Master in June 1964 and remained until October 1969, when he left Beeston to take an appointment in Rutland. Miss Margaret E Cooper succeeded him in 1970. During this period numbers dropped but during the 1980s new members joined, enabling the Choir to fulfil its duties and also to provide special music at Easter and for the Choir Festival.

Later they were able to join with the choir from the local Roman Catholic church in giving various musical events in our own church, the Fauré “Requiem” being especially remembered. In later years it became difficult to maintain the high standards of our predecessors and eventually, in June 1996, it was decided to disband. Our special thanks are accorded to Margaret Cooper and Albert Buxton for their wonderful service to the Choir and the Church during those later years. A plaque on the organ records our gratitude to Mr Buxton.

Historical Note: John Newton (1802-1886)

In 1830, following a decline in the lace trade, a twist hand and musician called John Newton moved from Nottingham to Beeston, where he was asked to form a choir at the new chapel on Chapel Street and to act as organist. He had already composed many hymn tunes and anthems, the most famous surviving tune being “Sovereignty” to the hymn “Great God of Wonders”. It was included in “The Methodist Hymn-Book with Tunes” (1933) and in “Hymns & Psalms” (1983) but not in “Singing the Faith” (2011). He made a great impact on the musical life of the church and our long choral tradition owes much to his training.

This John Newton (1802-1886) was a great-grandfather of novelist D H Lawrence (1885-1930); he was not the John Newton (1725-1807) who wrote the words of “Amazing Grace” and other well-known hymns.

Further Information

The Music section gives general information about music at Chilwell Road Methodist Church and the Church History section gives further historical background about the Church.