Beginning at 6pm on Friday 26 August, the non-stop hymn marathon is expected to last for three days and nights and hopes to raise £10,000.
A team of organists from St Mary’s Church will be joined by Cathedral and church organists to play through the entire hymn book Ancient and Modern: Hymns and songs for refreshing worship from start to finish – a total of 847 hymns. David Dunnett the organist of Norwich Cathedral, will begin the marathon, with Michael Nicholas, the Cathedral Organist Emeritus, and John Keys from Nottingham, who has recorded the entire hymnbook, also expected to play over the weekend.
St Mary’s Choir, who have recently sung in services in the Cathedrals of Norwich, Peterborough, and Bury St Edmunds, will take part in the hymn marathon and will start the weekend of singing, joined by the Bishop of Thetford. Other choirs and members of the public are also invited to come along and participate throughout the event. Hymns will be played on St Mary’s organ, which dates back to 1913 and was built by Norman & Beard who also built the organ in Norwich Cathedral.
The hymnbook is partly arranged in the seasons of the church year, with the marathon beginning the journey from Advent through Christmas carols, followed by Lent and Easter to Pentecost. Among the hymns are ancient plainsong hymns, Victorian stalwarts such as “There is a Green Hill Far Away”, wedding hymns including “Love Divine” and well-known hymns such as “Jerusalem”. The hymnbook is published by Canterbury Press, who are based in Hellesdon, Norwich.
The event is being held to raise funds for the Attleborough Music Project, which aims to create a centre of excellence and bring more music to Attleborough and the wider community. The project includes the provision of a music outreach worker and essential repairs to the 100-year-old church organ, not to mention extension of St Mary’s facilities in Attleborough to create more space for community events including concerts and recitals.
Dr Ben Miller, Director of Music at St Mary’s, said: “This hymn marathon will be the biggest concert we have ever attempted and we are really pleased to have many organists, including from Norwich Cathedral, join us for this incredible challenge alongside our own choir. We hope that choirs and people will also come and support us too on this journey through the church seasons as we seek to raise funds for our project. We are committed to creating a centre for excellence for music at St Mary’s that will enable us to bring music and its many benefits to the community in Attleborough and beyond.”
Anyone who would like to make a donation for the hymn marathon can do so here.
If you are an organist and would like to be involved, or if you or your choir would like to take part, sign up online.
For more information, visit the Attleborough Church website here.