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They say, you don't know what you have 'till it's gone

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Truth is, you knew what you had but you didn't think you would lose it!

From the age of 7, I was lucky enough to be a chorister at York Minster (pictured), especially so, as the Master of the music at that time was Francis Jackson and no finer teacher could I have wished for. However, at the time, I don't think I really realised what effect the exposure to that building, daily music of many centuries and repeated readings of the scriptures was having on me - after all, there was much trainspotting to be done!

It didn't really cross my mind that a) I would become involved in music, or b) that the very fabric of music in worship would ever be under any kind of threat.

Now, some 50 years later, even Cathedral music is under threat because of finances and other pressures and although here in the UK collegiate choirs thrive in their own microcosmic world, elsewhere the music in ordinary churches is going, sliding into obscurity as less church choirs exist and each church holds just one main service on a Sunday morning.

Much new church music is being composed and as any composer will tell you, first performances are plentiful and relatively easy to come by, but getting a piece into the repertoire is a different thing. But lay aside the robed choir and fine organ, pop down the road to the church with a few singers around a rickety piano, or a Tenor-less choir with an ex-pianist working hard on a spluttering Victorian organ on its last legs - who looks after them? Are they not also making music for God?

That's why the Accessible Choral Library Series came into being: to provide Unison, 2-part and 3-part music for those places where there are limited vocal resources. Music to keep these choristers singing, music that is affordable, accessible and appealing .. in short, music that works! The Series covers music for all the seasons of the churches year including Christmas, Harvest (or Thanksgiving), Remembrance, baptisms, Lent etc and is written by a roster of fine composers who understand the needs and limitations of the average group of singers (who may well be in their seventies or eighties). It is music that will not overtax the voice nor the parish organist (which may be the lady or gentleman asked to do a couple of services 30 years ago and is still there playing week in week out!).

Yes, our catalogue has SATB and other choral music in it, as it should, but it is the composers who share my vision and contribute music to the Accessible Choral Library that this post is about in providing music that satisfies the three 'A's mentioned above.

We have special pages in our catalogue and a playlist on YouTube Channel dedicated to this Series and new titles and composers come on board all the time (most recently Olivia Sparkhall, Phillip Sangwine, Tamsin Jones and John Stallsmith). You can be sure their pieces will work and in some cases, as the Royal School of Church Music reviews have said 'can be sung by any group of singers'.

It's doubtful that we can reverse the trend of smaller church choirs and less of them, but we can, and will, continue to provide fine music for the small groups of singers that many churches now have. In 2023 we will be returning to running choral evensong in a major cathedral with music from the Accessible Choral Library with all these small choirs joined into one large choir, such as we did with the utmost success in Ripon Cathedral pre-covid.

The Accessible Choral Library is much more than just a series of pieces in a catalogue - it is a living, breathing vision for church music for the smaller choir (and, incidentally, also traditional music for the secular choir). If you want to run an evensong, we will provide the music; a workshop; come and help even. You only need six copies because you only have six singers? Great, absolutely wonderful - if we can help keep those six singing in church, we will have achieved our vision.

Author: Tim Knight,

Composer and Owner of Tim Knight Music

You can browse through the whole of the Accessible Choral Library and find out all about the Composers who contribute to it via our website:



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