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Churches in Ipswich enjoy the Bible in music and art

Churches Together in Ipswich gathered for an event called “Enjoy the Bible – Sensing the Sacred Through Music and Art” on Saturday March 7, as part of the God Who Speaks initiative, reports Fr Alan Hodgson.

The culmination of months of work between the central churches of Ipswich, and led ably by Fr John Thackray of St Mary-at-the Elms, the day was held at the Anglican St Nicholas Centre.

Two guest speakers were invited to offer a reflection to all who attended.  The morning started with Christopher Borrett, Director of Music for St Mary-le-Tower, leading us through the history of sacred music; right from the music of Solomon and King David through to chant and polyphonic music. 

Christopher explained how music (and sacred music in particular) permeates every aspect of our lives often without us even realising it.  

The talk was peppered with beautiful pieces of music, history and ideas to help everyone who attended to appreciate sacred music more deeply.  Christopher explained that there are many parts of the Old Testament that were originally written for music and how, in later years, composers have used Scripture in the most profound and beautiful ways. 

Christopher carries a wealth of experience of conducting and directing music and is an accomplished bass singer himself. He soon had everyone singing simple tunes to demonstrate some of the more complex ideas of music to help people to understand the richness and beauty of Scripture related music.

After all that singing, a welcome cup of tea was enjoyed by all and it was wonderful to see people from different denominations enjoying each other’s company and swapping stories. 

After the break, Fleur Dorrell from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Bible Society, spoke to us about how artists throughout the ages have used scripture for inspiration and ideas. 

Using images such as Ford Madox Brown’s beautiful image of Christ washing Peter’s feet to Caravaggio’s portrayal of St Thomas touching Christ after the resurrection as well as images of the Annunciation, Fleur discussed the use of colour, space and lighting and what to look out for in religious art.

The day was attended by over 60 people, mainly from the Catholic parishes of Ipswich, but also from Felixstowe and Hadleigh.  As well as many representatives from other Christian churches within and around Ipswich. 

There will be several further events throughout the diocese during the Year of the Word – there was plenty of room for more people to attend this most fascinating of mornings; I can only endorse this event and encourage even more people to attend these events in the future.  As well as meeting new people, it is an easy and interesting way to learn about Scripture and a deeper understanding of God’s love for us.  

Pictured above is Fleur Dorrell speaking in Ipswich. Picture by Philip King.

See a full picture gallery, by Philip King, at: