It was a double first for Dacorum Community Choir when members took part in a service in a chapel beneath the Houses of Parliament.
Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning said it was believed to be the first time for 400 years that an external choir had sung in the chapel. It was also DCC’s first opportunity to sing at Westminster, though – as the Gazette has previously reported - Kings Langley Community Choir sang on the Members’ Terrace there in May.
DCC’s debut was arranged by Mr Penning and Dacorum borough councillor Rosie Sutton, a former choir chairman. The venue was the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, where Holy Communion is celebrated twice every Wednesday during parliamentary sessions for members of parliament and staff.
Under musical director Rufus Frowde, and accompanied from the keyboard by Joseph Beech, DCC sang modern settings of the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei by Jonathan Eyre, as well as the canon Non Nobis Domine, sometimes attributed to the Renaissance composer William Byrd. They also led the congregation in an arrangement by Ralph Vaughan Williams of “I heard the voice of Jesus say” with words by Horatius Bonar from the 19th century.
Thanking the choir, the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who officiated, said she hoped its performance wouldn’t be its last at the Palace of Westminster. Mr Penning also thanked the choir, saying he himself couldn’t sing, except for Swing Low Sweet Chariot. He added that he probably wouldn’t be doing that again soon, following England’s rugby world cup defeat by Australia.
The visit to Westminster was part of a hectic fortnight for DCC. A few days earlier, members had put in a flash mob appearance at a county conference on Arts and Wellbeing in Hatfield. As proceedings got under way, they jumped up from their seats among delegates to give a rousing performance of an appropriately-named favourite, Feel Good, led by Rufus Frowde, with accompanist Judi Kelly.
They were in action a few days later, performing for Hemel Hempstead Rotary’s group for the visually impaired at the Blind Centre in Boxmoor. Audience members soon got caught up in the pleasure of singing, so much so that the evening ended with an invitation to join the choir’s rehearsals!
The choir are now preparing for the first of their Christmas concerts, This Joyful Night, which takes place at St John’s Church, Boxmoor, at 7pm on Tuesday, December 8. It will feature a children’s choir from Aycliffe Drive primary school and soloists. Tickets at £10 and £5 (under-18s) are available from choir members, or 07890 288859 and on the door. There will be a collection in aid of Charlie’s Gift, which helps children whose lives are affected by adversity.
Dacorum Community Choir rehearses on Tuesday mornings during school term from 9.45am to 11.15pm, usually at the Church of the Resurrection, behind the shops at Henry Wells Square in Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 6BJ.
For further details about the choir, including occasional changes of rehearsal venue, see www.dacorumcommunitychoir.org , Streetlife, or phone Dianne on 01442 874988.