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|2705: St Mary's,
Moseley, Birmingham, England
Mary's, Moseley, Birmingham, England
of England, Diocese
The earliest known reference to St Mary’s is a document from
Pope Innocent VII dated 2 February 1405 authorising "old
men and pregnant women and other weak persons" living "hard
by the town of Kings Norton" to use "the nearer and
more convenient Chapel of St Mary" for divine services.
That document may, however, have referred to a private chapel
different from the present church. In 1496 the tower was begun
and is still in place today, despite the church itself having
undergone many transformations in the interim. By 1780 the chapel
had fallen into disrepair and was encased in brick, only to
be "regothicised" with plaster and ironwork some 40
years later. Further renovations were done in the late 19th/early
20th centuries, culminating in repairs to bomb damage sustained
during World War II. A peal of eight bells was restored in 1991
and rung for the first time in over 80 years. Permission was
recently granted to install solar panels on the church roof.
There is interesting stained glass, including one known as the
They are part of a benefice including nearby St Anne's Church.
Their choir was for many years the only youth club sponsored
by the church. Former choristers often return to visit, and
several have embarked upon professional music careers. The church
belongs to the Moseley Inter-Faith Group and carries on a ministry
to sheltered housing and care homes.
Moseley is a village community situated three miles to the south
of Birmingham city centre. Although mentioned in the Domesday
Book, Moseley came into its own in the early 20th century, when
large houses of the Edwardian middle class began to displace
the area's farmland. By the late 20th century it had fallen
into decline, with crime, drugs and associated problems becoming
commonplace. Moseley has recovered, however, and the village
is now one of the more affluent suburbs of Birmingham. It is
home to an amazing mix of people. It particularly comes to life
in the evening and on weekends with numerous pubs, independent
restaurants and events. The noted author JRR Tolkien spent his
early years in Moseley, and the surrounding area is believed
to have been his inspiration for the tranquil Shire in The
Lord of the Rings.
The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, presided and
preached for the service, attended by his chaplain, the vicar,
and two other priests, one of whom was being licensed at this
service as assistant priest to the benefice. There was also
a reader and two choirs: a traditional robed choir and another
group in academic gowns. Mick Perrier, director of music, conducted
The date & time:
Sunday, 16 October 2011, 10.00am.
What was the name of the service?
Confirmation and the Licensing of the Revd Caroline George.
How full was the building?
It seemed mostly full. I reckon the church can hold about 300
people and it looked as if there were around 200 present.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, there was a team of greeters at the door welcoming people
and handing out service sheets and notices
Was your pew comfortable?
Not really. It was the typical Victorian pew that had a fabric
run on it that didn't provide much comfort.
How would you describe the pre-service
It was a mixed atmosphere: people catching up with each other,
children making noise, babies crying, and some that wanted quiet
time to themselves. Personally I found it difficult to reflect
quietly, and so I perused their weekly leaflet and enjoyed the
organ music prior to the service.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning, and welcome to St Mary's."
What books did the congregation use during the
A single service sheet that had the hymns printed in, but we
had to share, as they had run out! Some of us opted to follow
along in Hymns Old and New. There was also the weekly
news sheet and various notice sheets. I kept dropping them,
as there were lots!
What musical instruments
Organ and the two strong choirs. The organ is an opus of Henry
Jones of Brompton dating from 1887 and refurbished in 1996.
The music was excellent, and included what I think was a Monteverdi
madrigal. The music director, Mick Perrier, has occupied the
post for over 30 years and has taken the choirs on tour in Europe
Did anything distract
During the service there was a constant noise of children, either
in the other rooms for Sunday school or in the activity areas
within the church. Some parents insist on being oblivious to
the noise their children are making! During the sermon there
were problems with the microphone. This irritated some members
behind me, who were heard to mutter that this has gone on for
three weeks. I think also some of the younger choristers on
the chairs in the choir were getting restless! (As we all remember
when we were little!)
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
It is difficult to describe the style. It was formal in the
eucharist, processions, prayers, music and readings but was
relaxed with the sermon (done without notes and on the wireless
microphone). The children were led out to their groups in song
("Give me joy in my heart") and the bishop questioned
them afterward about what they had done in their Sunday school
groups. The service itself was nice but it missed several parts,
including the Gloria and intercession prayers. It went with
a pace and was finished within the hour. There were no bells,
incense or chanting. The licensing ceremony itself was brief:
the Revd Caroline George was presented by the vicar and then
the bishop read the deeds of institution. It was over in a flash!
There were two adult confirmands presented, and their confirmation
was done with grace and dignity. In the service sheet it was
clearly printed where to sit and stand, but the vicar had to
signal everyone nonetheless.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
8 I have heard Bishop Urquhart preach before and he always
seems very relaxed. However, it was extremely difficult to hear
him as the wireless microphone kept feeding back and the background
noise made it difficult to appreciate his sermon to the fullest.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
The bishop's text was Matthew 22:15-22 ("Render unto Caesar
that which is Caesar's"). He linked this to the Queen's
Diamond Jubilee, when coins will bear Her Majesty's likeness
on both sides. Sorry, but that's all I could get due to the
Which part of the service was like being in
Well, certainly the music was like being in heaven. The communion
service was Harold Darke's in F, and we also had Veni Creator
Spritus by Douglas Mews. This along with lovely and well-known
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
It is a shame that despite the wonderful music, most of the
congregation left their pews during the organ postlude to queue
up for refreshments. And they made a right noise of it too,
battling the poor organist! There were lots of problems with
the microphones and sound system as previously mentioned.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
There was friendly members of the congregation and younger gentlemen
in the choir who signposted me to the refreshments. Some of
the clergy (including the bishop) were milling around. One of
the clergy chatted to me, asking how I was.
How would you describe the after-service
There was a variety for all because of the special occasion.
There were biscuits, along with tea and coffee in cups. Also
wine and fruit juices and nibbles on the table.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 It is a shame I live so far away but it does live up
to its name for the music provided there.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes it did, because of renewing your faith at a special occasion
with newly confirmed people as part of the wider church family.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The stunning music and welcome by people in the church.
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