The music at the Shrine is overseen by the Organist and Director of Music, currently Nicholas Kerrison who came to the Shrine in August 2014 having been in Secondary school teaching for 34 years, 26 of which were as Director of Music at The King’s (The Cathedral) School, Peterborough. During his teaching career, Nicholas was also Organist and Choirmaster of St Wulfrum’s Church, Grantham, St Guthlac’s Church, Market Deeping and a Lay-Clerk at Peterborough Cathedral.
The music used at Shrine Church services and larger annual events such as the National Pilgrimage reflects both the Anglo-Catholic musical tradition of the past 75 years and a desire to introduce the best of the new. The selection of music is dependent on two key factors. Firstly, there is no permanent choir in the Shrine Church to lead the singing and secondly, the congregation for virtually every service is made up of a different mix of people.
In response to this situation the Shrine has pioneered the use of mono-thematic (i.e. one tune) settings of the Ordinary of the Mass - thus enabling a congregation to learn a single melody which will reappear several times. Six Shrine Mass settings are used at present with a seventh in preparation.
Shrine Mass I (The Annunciation) - using a melody from Schubert's Deutsche Messe (arranged as a Sanctus/Benedictus by Richard Proulx)
Shrine Mass II (The Visitation) - the Paul Inwood Gathering Mass (Celebration Hymnal)
Shrine Mass III (Word Made Flesh) - St Columba - based on the Irish hymn tune.
Shrine Mass IV (The Shepherds) - using an anonymous (Scottish?) melody (also set to the words of the Sanctus) in Mission Praise.
Shrine Mass V (The Presentation) - in preparation
Shrine Mass VI (Cana in Galilee) - using the Jimmy Owens melody for "Holy, Holy, Holy" (Celebration Hymnal).
Shrine Mass VII (Our Lady, Type of the Church) - using a traditional Israeli melody
A number of different settings of the Penitential Rite and Gloria are used.
At some of the Shrine’s major Feasts and events (such as the National Pilgrimage and Bible Week) it is our practice to gather together a small group of singers who will lead the singing at the Liturgies and may sing different settings of the Ordinary of the Mass and appropriate motets and anthems.
The Pilgrim Manual
For the past few years the Shrine has produced an annual Pilgrim Manual specifically tailored to each year's particular Marian theme. For 2016 a return has been made to the larger, more comprehensive manual which was last produced in 2005 and used until 2011. This new edition of the manual is intended to be used for the next few years and is appropriate for use both whilst on pilgrimage to the Shrine and also back home within parishes and Cells of Our Lady of Walsingham. The manual contains a good selection of 40 (mostly) Marian hymns in addition to those hymns used at specific liturgies (Stations of the Cross, Benediction etc.) Two sizes of manual are available - the standard, pocket size and the large-print version. Both cost £2.00 and are available from Reception or the Shrine Shop.
Click here for information on the names of suitable hymn tunes and where to find them (a printable PDF).
Visiting Singers: As has been said, above, there is no resident choir at the Shrine. However, there is the opportunity for visiting groups on Pilgrimage to Walsingham to sing at Mass or at the Healing Liturgy. It may be that a group has a soloist who is able and willing to sing or that some of the pilgrim group are members of their Parish Church Choir and would like to sing a suitable anthem. The Director of Music would be very happy to hear from you and to arrange a practice time during the Pilgrimage.
Commissions: In the year 2000, to celebrate the approaching millennium, the Shrine held a series of great services (Regional Festivals) at cathedrals the length and breadth of the country. Richard Shephard was asked to compose a setting of the Magnificat for voices, brass and organ. This - published by O.U.P. as "The Song of Mary".
In 2004, a rather different form of outreach - to an airport, a prison, a hospital amongst others - culminated in a final service in York Minster. For this service - Magnificat 2004 - Richard Shephard wrote a simple, but effective setting of the Mass ordinary - The Walsingham Mass. In 2005 - for the Walsingham Appeal - a rather different musical commission received its first performance - see The Walsingham Poems, Songs and Ballads below.