Choir St Mary’s Singers

Judy Smither


The choir of St Mary’s church Dunstable, has been operating since 1987. Fr Reggie Deaton and Fr Frank Mullan and the parishioners of St Mary’s asked Judy Smither, the church organist to form a permanent choir, after the success of a choir formed for the Easter masses that year. For some years prior to this Judy had been running a Christian choir in town, which performed for many of the churches in the town and for many charitable causes. Some of the singers at St Mary’s were also in that choir and so, since then, the choir have worked together and are known as, Serenata. Members of the choir provide music for lots of the masses, weddings and funeral at St Mary’s and also for the special events in the other churches, and is often involved in providing music for Dunstable Churches together, enabling Christians of many different denominations to sing and worship God together.

The choir has sung on special occasion for the Church of England, Methodist, United Reform and mission churches and for the Salvation Army, leading worship and raising thousands of pounds for charity for Multiple Sclerosis, Christian Aid, Sight Concern, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Milton Keynes.Autistic Support Group, The Deaf and hearing-impaired Pastoral Service, Light4life(L&D Dr Nair’s project to provide artificial limbs to the victims of the Pakistani earthquake), APA(the Association for Prevention of Addiction)etc.

We also regularly provide entertainment for people living in local homes for the elderly, including 'Westways' adjacent to the church. We form the main choir for the Dunstable Town Council Christmas Tree Carol Ceremony, gathering for the occasion a choir of 600. Recently, we made a recording for the three counties Radio Sunday morning programme, 'Melting Pot', inviting members of the other choirs and also children from middle school choir to join us. Our music was played on the 4 Sunday of advent 2006. It is a joy and privilege to serve the Lord in this way and we have prayers for the sick and the bereaved and for our families, friends, priests and parishioners at the beginning of each practice.

 Rehearsals are at St Mary’s Church, West St, Dunstable, on a Tuesday night in school term time, from 7:30p.pm till 9:30p.m. There are men and women, experienced and not-so-experienced members: everyone is welcome! The choir is a very friendly, caring bunch of people; there is a lot of laughter and biscuit and chocolate munches! We usually sing at 8:30 and 10:30 masses once a month. As Judy is not paid as a church organist and because the choir is allowed to use the church freely for rehearsals, the subscription is only £15 per term: this covers the cost of the music we sing and the small administration costs.

 Our repertoire consists of well known church anthems, folk music and songs from the shows and we have performed in musicals such as 'Joseph' and 'The Sound of Music'. Each year, we go on outing together and have 2 dinners out together. You will find a warm welcome in the choir and we’d love you to join us . If you are interested, please contact Judy Smither on 01582 667754. There is also a small (at present!), but very sweet junior choir which joins us for the 10:30 masses and goes to 'Westways' regularly to sing for the elderly. All youngsters from 8 upwards are invited to join. Please let Judy know if you have anybody in your family who is interested.

Liturgy Group Music Ministry 

Agnes Milne

 St Mary's folk group The use of guitars and instruments other than the organ in the Catholic Church began in St. Mary's soon after the end of the second Vatican Council as a response to the directives from that council which emphasised the importance of the full participation of the congregation in the Mass and particularly in the realm of singing.

 The children's choir was disbanded and an instrumental group set up under the leadership of Brother Donald one of the Sacred Heart Brothers who lived in their house in Kensworth. Since that time many talented musicians especially guitarists and young instrumentalists have given of their time and talents to this Ministry, latterly at the 10.30 Mass.

We see ourselves as taking part in a Ministry, the Ministry of Music, we are NOT a choir, still less a group of performers. We are not there to entertain but to lead the congregation. We see our Ministry as the enabling of the People of God to Praise him with their voices ( 'He who sings prays twice'). We are there to use our talents to praise God in the Mass and to enable others to do so, and to give back to God his wonderful gift of music.

 We see each Mass as a Liturgical Celebration and us as having a specific part to play in that liturgy. So it is important to sing those parts of the Mass which are liturgically meant to be sung in particular: the 'Responsorial Psalm' , the 'Alleluia Verse' , 'the Sanctus' and the 'Proclamation of Faith'. As far as hymns are concerned we do not limit ourselves to any particular style of hymn; hence we are not strictly speaking a Folk Group as such, but we select from many different types, the criteria being the appropriateness to the particular theme of the Mass and the season of the Liturgical Year. But, bearing in mind that different people are inspired and helped to pray by different hymns, we try to include hymns to appeal to different tastes and to please everybody at least some of the some of the time, but the relevance to the readings and themes, as said above, is of paramount importance.

We encourage all but, especially the young, to join us and offer their musical talents to God. We are there about three out of four Sundays and we practise before Mass, from 9.45 am onwards. We hope those who arrive early for Mass are helped by the practice to become acquainted themselves with the music to be sung.