The third Saturday in January 2015 was the beginning of Spark!, a festival of Worship and the Arts at Greyfriars Kirk. This festival commemorates the 25th anniversary of the installation of the current organ, by Peter Collins, and a major reorganisation of the building. It is also the 150th anniversary of the pipe organ in the building. I was privileged to part of the choir – RSCM Scottish Voices – that was asked to singing at the opening event, Epiphany Carol Service by Candlelight
Greyfriars Kirk is located opposite the National Museum of Scotland. Passing through the alleyway next to the Greyfriars Bobby public house, you enter the Kirkyard. Most of the current building dates from the repairs and rebuilding following a fire in 1845. During the mid nineteenth century the minister, Reverend Robert Lee, was behind the introduction of stained glass windows and the installation of the organ.
The Peter Collins organ was installed in 1989 above the west end of the building. The location of the previous organ is now the choir room. There are three other instruments in the building.
To the north of the east end is a chamber organ.
On the south side of the building is a harmonium and a grand piano.
The Epiphany Carol Service included music by William Byrd, John Bell, Paul Edwards, Giovanni Gabrielli, Laurence Caldecote, Thomas Luis da Victoria and Charles Wood, interspersed with bible readings, poems and Congregational hymns. The choir was directed by Frikki Walker, Director of Music for RSCM Scottish Voices, and the Peter Collins organ was played by Richard Walmsley.
The 1989 re-ordering included the removal of the pews, being replaced with chairs. One advantage is that the chairs can be moved and makes the space very flexible.
After the Epiphany Carol Service, a Ceilidh was held. There being plenty of space for dancing once the chairs had been moved to the side.
And back to Spark! Martin Ritchie is the Artistic Associate at Greyfriars Kirk and created Spark! He is currently carrying out postgraduate research into the worship of the early Reformed Scottish Kirk.
- More pictures of Greyfriars Kirk, including a selection of the stained glass
- Spark! at Greyfriars Kirk
- Spark! Brochure
- Wikipedia on Greyfriars Kirk