Callington Singers honour the musical heritage of Stoke Climsland Church

On Saturday 25th April, the Callington Singers will be giving a free concert in Stoke Climsland Church. The concert will incorporate lots of joyful music under the general theme of the coming of summer.  The programme will include Vivaldi’s Magnificat, along with some madrigals, the Hallelujah Chorus and an original setting of the Jubilate, composed by our new Musical Director, Andrew Wilson.

The Callington Singers has a long tradition of making music freely accessible to the community. It is our policy to strive, wherever possible, to give concerts completely free of charge. This is not always practical, as there are many expenses to cover, such as venue hire, publicity and the fees of hired musicians. The choir rely on a retiring collection after each concert to cover these costs.

We are very pleased to be working again with Stoke Climsland Parish Church. The Callington Cluster (incorporating churches in Stoke Climsland, Linkinhorne, Callington and South Hill) have the admirable policy of hiring out these churches free of charge, which makes our job of providing free music very much easier.

The free venue and delightful surroundings are not the only reason we are pleased to be performing in Stoke Climsland church again. We also enjoy performing there as an unofficial honour to an important character from Stoke Climsland’s past, who strived as we do, to provide music in his community and who would be familiar with most of the music we are to perform on this occasion; namely Thomas Calvert, gentleman of Stoke Climsland.

The impressive memorial to Thomas Calvert appears prominently in the foyer of Stoke Climsland Church:


In Memory of
Mr Thomas Calvert
Late of this parish
who in the year 1746
First introduced into this Church
four part Psalmody
and with Indefatigable Pains and perseverance
not only encouraged but in a great measure supported it
with great Reputation upwards of 30 years
He Was an Honest Man
a Kind Master
a Sincere Friend
And a good Christian
He departed this life at Plymouth
on June 3rd 1781
in the 71st year of his Age.

Although described as being ‘of the parish of Stoke Climsland’, Thomas Calvert was born in Moor Monkton, just outside of York. He was the firstborn son of Joseph and Elizabeth Calvert (née Hunter) and was baptised on the 18th August 1710. How he came to be a pillar of the Stoke Climsland community is a complete mystery. He married a local girl, but had no children. He was employed as Coroner for Cornwall in 1756 and retired from this post in 1776. He spent his last months living in St. Germans (where he made his will) and he was buried in Stoke Climsland churchyard.

His contribution to village life is undeniable. Mr. Calvert’s promotion of four part psalmody singing reflects the growing popularity, at this period, of incorporating music into church services and we owe him a debt of gratitude for the continuing tradition of choral singing which is enjoyed in this country.

The ‘Indefatigable Pains and Perseverance’ which are quoted on Thomas Calvert’s memorial stone are aptly illustrated here in a transcript of an extract from the Vestry minutes of Stoke Climsland. Any modern Musical Director will doubtless recognise the inherent challenges facing him.

Vestry Minutes from 28th of November 1773:

A Letter was read from Mr Thomas Calvert, setting forth the disappointments he has meet [sic] with in his frequent Attendance on the Singing owing to irregularity & Refractioness of many of the numbers, and Declaring that he wou’d not think of Attending many more unless the whole Body wou’d enter into an Obligation Consisting of Several Conditions which he propos’d for the better keeping up & bringing to  perfec[ti]on & carrying on with Psalmody to the promotion of Religion and Harmony [in] the Performers; Observing at the same time however that the Parishioners who were the Singers had been at much trouble in Learning & many of them were put to Inconvenience  by their Attendance & moreover that few or none has Books & others in general very bad; Proposing therefore as an Encouragement & Countenance to those who wou’d enter into & sign an Association to continue & practice the singing for three years, that the Parish at Large should contribute something towards purchasing proper Books, & defraying other Expenses, in which He, Mr Calvert wou’d also contribute & Mr & Mrs Call had also promis’d. The Members of the Vestry  taking the premises with Consideration & being sensible of Mr Calverts Obliging Attendance & Trouble for many years, in promoting & assisting the singing & in doing many other Beneficial Acts to the Church, Do unanimously Agree, that the sum of Six Guineas out of the Church Rates be allow’d from Xmas 1773 to Xmas 1774 to be paid to Mr Calvert by the Churchwardens & laid out by him as he judges may best promote the good order, regularity & continuation of Psalmody, provided that the singers will all enter into such a Bond as he proposes, this contribution to be for one year only at this expiration of which the Parishioners will Continue or revoke it as they See it has Promoted, or Disappointed the End Propos’d.

We sincerely hope that Thomas Calvert would approve and enjoy this upcoming concert, as we also hope you will. Stoke Climsland church will shortly undergo a major refurbishment of the church roof, which we hope will go forward without a hitch. Come and help us raise the roof before it is repaired by joining us for a splendid evening of music on 25th April at 7pm.

 

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