A week in the life of a head chorister

Meet Dom Gavan, head chorister of St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield.

Chesterfield Parish Church (The Crooked Spire) has had an excellent repertoire of music since its dedication in 1234, and has upheld a sustainable and large choir for much of this time.

From huge concerts with the Philharmonic Choir to small, midweek services, the music has been nothing but exquisite and I have been fortunate to be a part of it for some six years, and have been Head Chorister since 2016. 

Sunday - Palm Sunday
Alarm at 7.00am, up, dressed, teeth, hair, church! Got to church, Cassock on, warm up, and sing. Setting today was Communion Service in A minor (Darke), and Christus Factus Est (Felice Anerio) as the communion motet. Went well, started outside with blessing of Palms and thankfully it wasn’t raining. I have a solo tonight so ultra-important I don’t get a cold! Sunday lunch with the Family, and back to church for Evensong. 

Monday
Went to church at 11am to help run the gift shop, stuck around until 2pm. Went home and chilled. Back to Church at 6pm for a choir practice. Many composers later, its time to go home. Bath and Bed, how cosy.

Tuesday
My only day off this week - Tidied my room, did my ironing for the week, looked through my music, practiced my organ pieces, and ate. Not much to say today.

Wednesday
Stressful day today - Picked up my cassock from the dry cleaners, washed my surplus, and then off for a coffee with my Mum, had a nice chat and then home for an extensive music practice for this week’s services. The pressure builds…

Thursday (Maundy Thursday)
Busy day today. Off to church at 10am to help out, sold some gifts! Back to church at 7am for the Last Supper mass with lots of music and a very atmospheric singing of Psalm 88 in the dark! The service ended with the watch until midnight, which was only spoiled by a dance show down the road. 

Friday (Good Friday)
The Good Friday afternoon liturgy began at 3pm. I caught a glimpse of the procession of witness as I walked from my bus to the Church for rehearsal. Music today was demanding at times, but fitting for Good Friday:  O Vos Omnes (Pablo Casals); Crux Fidelis (Plainsong); Popule Meus (Victoria) and Psalm 22 to my favourite Anglican Chant.

Saturday (Holy Saturday)
A very busy day today, with too much to do and not a lot of time to do it. I helped the vergers prepare all the altars for Easter. Some altars took more time than others. Once the altars were finished, it was time for breakfast - nothing beats a Pain Au Chocolat and coffee at 10am on a Saturday! Many coffees later, the church was fully furnished and ready for the Easter Vigil mass at 8.30pm. Home, bath, new set of clothes, and then back to church. After the service, the vicar invited the congregation to champagne and chocolate. I was too tired, so went home to bed.


Sunday (Easter Sunday)
Up early to get the first dibs on easter eggs! The church looked so wonderfully radiant in the glorious sunshine. The morning service was rounded off by the choristers pelting an assortment of Crème and Caramel eggs at the congregation, making sure to include the Vicar and Servers! Enjoyed the famous ‘Easter Lamb Dinner’ at my Nana’s house, filling me up ready for the evening of singing ahead. The clock in my house struck 5.30pm, meaning it was time for the last service of the term. The music this evening was magnificent, as well as being very nerve racking for the soloists. We sang Blair in B minor, and the anthem was Haec Dies, an 8-part anthem sung in canon between 2 sides, which really literally raised the roof. After the service, I went straight to bed for a nice long sleep, I had no energy to go on.

>> See Also: The Crooked Spire

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