Advent Meditation in St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton and live-streamed from our website on Sunday 6th December at 6.30 pm

Following October’s successful Organ Meditation in St Mary Magdalene Church building, and November’s online Remembrance Meditation, we are now aiming to offer an Advent Meditation in St Mary Magdalene Church building on Sunday 6th December at 6.30 pm. Following the new guidance, we can have a distanced choir and a small pre-booked congregation (as previously in September & October – with rules observed in relation to distancing, masks, sanitisation and recording of attenders for contact and trace purposes).

We will present a 45-minute sequence of Advent readings and music, including a newly- composed piece God of our eternity with music by Chris Moorsom and words by Rowan Williams & Andrew Nunn. There will also be meditative organ & instrumental music and candlelight, similar to From Darkness to Light as in previous years, but shorter and quieter. No charge, but there will be a retiring collection to cover expenses and to support the church tower restoration fund.

Clearly we will not be able to have the usual large number in the congregation, so it is hoped that for those unable to attend in person the event will be live-streamed and accessible to anyone from our website.

Pre-booking essential, please contact church office: tel:  07523 322693

Organ & Violin Meditation – St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton – Saturday 7th November 2020 at 3.30 pm – with Julia Trigg (violin & reader) and Miles Quick (organ)

As you will no doubt have realised, owing to the new restrictions it will not now be possible to hold this event live in St Mary Magdalene Church this Saturday afternoon 7th November as originally planned.  However, thanks to modern technology and some hard work by various technologists, we have been able to record a short ‘Remembrance Meditation’ (amended poster attached!).  This Meditation (consiting of two meditative pieces) will be available by the same time on Saturday as the live event would have been.  The pieces will be played by Julia Trigg on the violin and Miles Quick on St Mary Magdalene’s newly renovated Father Willis organ.  Please go to the ‘What’s on’ section of the St Mary Magdalene Church website and you will be directed to the Meditation.
We offer it, in addition to our online service for Remembrance Sunday, in the hope that it will help in quietly remembering and giving thanks for those loved ones who have gone before us, whom we see no more, but – as the Last Post and Reveille remind us – who now live ‘upon another shore and in a greater light’.
One advantage of online is that whereas before we were restricted by regulations to a small pre-booked audience, now there is no limit (‘that multitude which no man can number’ as it says in the King’s Carol Service bidding prayer).  So please feel free to share it!
Thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to seeing you again in person.

Organ Meditation – St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton, Saturday 3rd October 2020 at 3.30 pm – with Jonathan Price, Director of Music, Christ Church, Bristol City

In a cautious attempt to get back to some live music in church and to raise spirits we are offering the following 45-minute event, using our recently renovated Father Willis organ.  We will use the same covid-safety procedures as we are now using for our Sunday morning services (see below).  I do hope it might be of interest to you – if so please do contact the Church Office to book a place.stmmtaunton@gmail.com07523 322693
Pre-booking is required and there are only a small number of places, so please book asap!

Organ Meditation – St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton, Saturday 3rd October 2020 at 3.30 pm – with Jonathan Price, Director of Music, Christ Church, Bristol City

The guidance now allows us to go ahead with this (with distancing, masks, sanitisation and records of attenders as on Sundays) with a small pre-booked audience.  Bookings can be made with the church office.  Following the success of a recent similar post-lockdown event in Wells Cathedral, inspiring music will be introduced and played, and the event will be a chance to come apart from the concerns of the day and be uplifted, soothed and roused – all in the course of 45 minutes!!  New Father Willis can do all these things!  Admission free, retiring collection.  Following this event we hope to reinstate more events as the guidance allows – watch this space!  

St John’s Church, Taunton – Virtual Lunchtime Recital

St John’s Taunton Lunchtime Recital Series

Friday 14th August 2020

Virtual Organ Recital of English Music by

Jonathan Delbridge

recorded on the Father Willis Organ at St John’s Church, Park Street, Taunton

The recital will be available from 12 noon on:

Jonathan has arranged a lovely collection of music ranging from Purcell’s Rondo to the much loved ‘Nimrod’ Variation and Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 by Edward Elgar.  Rawsthorne’s Hornpipe Humoresque and the Flor Peeters Festival Voluntary have also been included.   If people wish to show their appreciation of Jonathan’s performance, they are invited to give a donation for Somerset Churches Trust and St John’s Organ Fund by using the Easy Fundraising website.  Further information can be found on the St John’s Church website:

Covid 19 update

Covid 19 Update from our Secretary
I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that the SOCA committee members feel that the future is too uncertain in 2020 to continue with our proposed programme in the Autumn. The visit to Homiton, and the quiz, are therefore postponed. The talk/recital by Paul Hale, due to follow our AGM in November, has also been postponed. Paul is willing to return next year, and has been booked for Saturday, November 6th, 2021. The committee will try to hold some sort of meeting in 2020, perhaps by Zoom.
In view of the fact that Stephen’s year as President has been blighted, the committee has invited him to remain in post for a further year. He has accepted, and Hilary Shaw has generously allowed her year of presidency to be deferred.
We are aware that members have not had a very good return on their 2020 membership subscriptions, and at some stage this year, we will consider adjusting the 2021 subscriptions.
John Bodiley  SOCA Secretary
9th July 2020

‘Come and Play’ at St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton

Saturday 22 February 2020  3pm – 4.30pm

There was an excellent turn out for our ‘Come and Play’ event on the newly rebuilt Willis organ which was hosted by Miles last Saturday afternoon at St Mary Magdalene church in the centre of Taunton . Miles welcomed everyone and then after giving a brief history of the church and the development of the organ started the afternoon off with a brilliant performance of the  ‘Allegro’ from Percy Whitlock’s Plymouth Suite to the delight of all those present. Others quickly followed with pieces ranging from simple hymn tunes to more complicated works by Bach, Carson, Oldroyd and Brahms.

The afternoon was in no sense a competition or recital, it was merely (to quote John Bodiley) an informal meeting with tea, cake and music. Geoff, from Michael Farley  Organ builders who had been commissioned to update the Henry Willis organ, was on hand should anything go wrong with the new instrument. Personally I found it a real delight to play and enjoyed every minute of this unique opportunity. An audience of visitors quickly formed in the main body of the church and tea and cakes, provided by the good ladies of the parish, were enjoyed by all! What better way to spend a cold and wet Saturday afternoon and what a complete privilege to have been given the opportunity to play this wonderful instrument!!!!

A huge thankyou to Miles and Geoff for being there and guiding us through the stop registrations and of course to the committee and all those who worked so tirelessly to organise a wonderful afternoon to make sure that it was such a success.

Report by Ian Gouge

Somerset Organists’ Support Scheme

As part of our educational outreach we have set up…


Our latest initiative is a scheme to offer a free one-hour visit to give guidance on the organ you usually play.


  • For players and prospective players of all abilities and ages
  • You may be a pianist who has been asked to play the organ
  • Or be interested in understanding the organ better
  • Or just someone wishing to improve their playing


  • How the mechanism works
  • What the stops do and which are the best ones to use
  • How to play a hymn or song effectively
  • How to use the organ to encourage a congregation to sing their best
  • How to start to use the pedals
  • How to practise effectively
  • Where you can get help to learn more and develop your skills in the future

These are just suggestions, but the sessions can be tailored to individual needs.


Please feel free to contact the following SOCA representatives:

Yeovil Area
Stephen Bell

Bridgwater Area
John Bodiley

Taunton Area and General
Miles Quick


Chairman’s Report November 2019

           Chairman’s Report – November 2019

April 9th this year saw us in St Mary’s Bridgwater yet again. This time for the Memorial Service for Brendan Chandler with an ad hoc choir who sang John Rutter’s “Gaelic Blessing”. Brendan had loyally served St Mary’s together with SOCA and the RSCM for a great many years. He is greatly missed.

Our programme of events during the year have included a discussion evening on Performance Anxiety led, and hosted, by Hilary Shaw. A visit to East Devon organs & Michael Farley’s workshop in Budleigh Salterton, taking in  St Peter’s, Budleigh Salterton, Michael’s workshop at Colaton Raleigh, David Davies recital at Withcombe Raleigh Parish Church, Sidmouth Parish Church, and Ottery St Mary. And in July we enjoyed a “Play the Organ” event at St Mary’s Bridgwater. September saw a visit to Edington Priory with its recent 2manual Harrison & Harrison organ with Mark Venning talking about its design, followed by the remodelled church at Holy Trinity, Frome, with their top of the range 3manual Allen digital organ, and ending up at Hemington (dating from the 1340’s and now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust) with their delightful single manual and pedal organ rebuilt by Trevor Tipple.

Some of our members have individually enjoyed recitals in Wells Cathedral, Llandaff Cathedral, and Buckfast Abbey with its new Ruffatti organ.

The year has, at last, seen the launch of our “Somerset Organists Support Scheme” offering support for players and prospective players of all abilities and ages. This is worthy of far greater support and PR than it has so far achieved. The Scheme is the result of a lot of hard work from those who have set it up, and it could be a great asset to churches of all denominations if only we could get the support it deserves from the respective authorities.

 A lot could be learned from our neighbouring associations as to managing to appeal to our prospective membership. We suffer from being essentially a rural association covering a very wide and, in much of our geography – sparsely populated, catchment area. Church congregations are diminishing fast, and with that, the financial abilities to maintain expensive items such as organs. It is no wonder that the clergy find a music group who provide their own instruments and time at no cost whatsoever to their churches to be an attractive proposition. If we are seen as awkward and unhelpful people with old fashioned ideas, unwilling to compromise, then I fear that organs and organists will continue to disappear from the worship scenario in many churches. This once happened on a national scale in the past, though for very different religion based political reasons, and organs and organists bounced back eventually. Our “Cathedral Tradition” is admired worldwide and is deserving of continuing preservation and support. But the wind of change is blowing strongly in our smaller churches and, if we are to survive, we must make compromises. We are all, including our clergy, servants to our churches. I’m reminded of the organist who stated that “I will not permit such rubbish to be sung in my church”. I had to remind him that it is not “my church”, and we are all here as “servants to OUR church”. I can envisage a time when the major churches, abbeys, and Cathedrals will have pipe organs accompanying proficient choirs, whilst the smaller parish churches will have essentially congregational music of whatever kind but, hopefully a mixed balance. The organ is still the most capable instrument for leading congregational singing with its sustained tone.

Our thanks are due to all our committee members for their time and support, but especially to Derek for coping with the massive amount of work required of our Secretary. Also to Doug for keeping our finances in good order, and to Miles for maintaining our website.

Exciting plans for 2020 are already in the pipeline and I recommend watching the website for future news and events.   The success of SOCA is up to all of our membership, not just the committee. If ideas feed in from everyone as to possible events, maybe even ‘local’ events, then your committee can gauge what is likely to be successful. It is, after all, an association of all its parts. I am stepping down from the Chair now, and I really do wish SOCA the very best for its future.

Ray Willis

23 November 2019