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Posted September 15th, 2023

Celebrating Fr Philip’s 15th Anniversary at St Mary’s

Fr Philip celebrating 15 years at St Mary Parish FInchley

Last Sunday at our Patronal Festival we also celebrated the 15th anniversary of Fr Philip’s induction and collation as Rector of St Mary-at-Finchley. The choir commissioned a special piece for Fr Philip’s anniversary which the organist and choir performed at the end of Sunday’s Patronal Festival service. The composer was local legend, David Loxley-Blount who is an award-winning composer particularly known for his organ works.  If you’d like to listen again please go to the YouTube video of Sunday 10th September’s service – it’s at the very end while the choir is processing out.

St Mary Parish Finchley Choir

Congratulations, Philip,
on Fifteen Years!
Saint Mary -at-Finchley.
Let all the world
in every corner

David Loxley-Blount (composer) writes about how he wrote the new piece in celebration of Revd Philip Davison’s 15th anniversary as Rector of St Mary-at-Finchley Parish Church. The piece was commissioned by Alison Smart Fisher, and the choir of St Mary-at-Finchley.

‘The number of the occasion is 15, and 15 is very much a theme of the piece. Written with 15 in a bar, and the indicated speed is also a multiple of 15 (starting at c.60 increasing later c.75)

Some of the thematic material is based on a musical cipher:

Spelt out using the cipher in music during the voluntary are Philip’s full name (as on the incumbents board to the left of the door as you exit the church), and “Saint Mary at Finchley” in full” The thematic shape “Philip” appears often during the piece

Where the cipher material is present there are very small letters in the score against notes of certain melodic lines, these are mostly in the pedals.

The cipher is not highly complex, but a major scale starting on Bb as letter “a”, with some alterations in note order after the first 7. e.g the 2nd Bb in the cipher would be expected to be given to the 8th letter in the alphabet “h”, but “h” is switched to be the note F (which makes for a better melodic shape in both Philip and Finchley) and “i” has also been changed to D (instead of C). To some extent this is because “p” is assigned as a C and too many repetitions of the same note does not make a good thematic melodic shape.

Each letter of the alphabet once used (and then assigned) always then appears as the same pitch class for example:
Letter “i” in Philip, Saint, and Finchley is always a D
Letter “y” in Anthony, Mary, and Finchley is always an Eb (as Y is always the end letter of the word it’s often held on longer)

There are a number of musical quotes weaved into the piece from items used at Philip’s induction service in 2008. The first of these is embedded at the very opening of the voluntary from the hymn Let all the world in every corner sing (but it diverges after the 4th word of the hymn)

The other significant musical quotes are 2 sections from William Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus: the passage with the text “Maria Virgine” and the closing “amen” before some of the hymn from the opening returns, but not quite as you know it!’

Author: David Loxley-Blount