Lye chapel seeks organist to preserve Easter tradition

First published in News

A LYE chapel is in danger of losing a local Easter tradition unless a new organist can be found.

In a tradition that stretches back for more than six decades ‘The Crucifixion,’ an oratorio by Sir John Stainer, has been performed at Bethel Chapel on Good Friday in front of the Mayor or Deputy Mayor of Dudley since the 1940s.

But in recent years it has proved increasingly difficult to find an experienced organist who is available for Good Friday.

Pastor Jill Berry said “Classically trained organists are a dying breed and although we have a couple of people who help out at funerals and weddings they tend to play at their home church at Christmas and Easter. Ideally we are looking for someone who knows the piece and has previously accompanied a choir singing it too."

For many years the performance was led by four Black Country musicians; renowned bass soloist Cecil Drew and tenor Herbert Bowen headed the choir conducted by Fred Dickens and accompanied by respected organist Herbert Mearman.

And in more recent times musician Dennis Jones was the regular accompanist up until his death.

Still well-maintained, the organ was specifically built for Bethel Chapel by John Tanner and Sons of Northampton in the late 1930s.

As well as the traditional Easter performance, the Hill Street chapel's 30-strong choral society has also - since 2004 - performed an additional recital each Christmas until last year when the 2013 event had to be shelved due to the absence of an organist.

Rehearsals for The Crucifixion are due to start in February.

Anyone able to help the chapel keep up its time honoured tradition can call Pastor Jill Berry on 01384 892137 or email admin@bethelchapel.wanadoo.co.uk

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