Robin L. D. Rees

All Saints’ Church, Didcot
All Saints’ Day 1991 – Mothering Sunday 2007

All Saints’ Church

Christmas Eve 2006

A few words after Matins, Mothering Sunday 2007

Thank you so much for your most generous gifts and words to Helen and myself.

Last night I re-read the job description of the post of Director of Music when I applied for it in 1991. It covered two closely-typed pages of A4, and stated that the work would involve at least six hours per week. In retrospect that is not far off the mark – 4500 hours in 15 years – though I never managed to do anything like all that was in the job description!

Our juniors may be interested to hear that their predecessors were asking for – and here I quote: ‘someone who … works us hard but gives us proper breaks, is fun and makes us laugh’, so my jokes in choir practice were not an optional extra but actually part of my contract….

I must thank many people for assisting me in my ministry of music over the years – and yes it is a ministry – at my commissioning service the Archdeacon referred to it in those terms. First, our dedicated band of organists: Helen, and Margaret, now joined by Brenda, and previously Marilyn and Ian. Anne has been our capable choir secretary, doing her best to administer some of my whackier ideas.

I think too of the choir’s adults who week by week, regardless of what is on television, give up their Friday evenings to practise making music to the Lord – and to laugh at my jokes. Then there have been the friends and friends-of-friends who have joined us for special services.

I have watched a succession of choristers faithfully serve their time with us and, as they progressively grow out of their cassocks and surplices, I echo the words of Maurice Chevalier ‘Thank heaven for little girls, for little girls get bigger every day.’ But not just little girls – we have been encouraged by the presence of Ben, our first boy chorister for a number of years. Thanks too to Katherine, Nicola, and all the earlier head and deputy head choristers who have kept their teams in order despite the chaos I have sometimes unleashed.

I thank especially those of you who have been generous enough to tell me when our music has blessed you: this has been an enormous encouragement in, as the hymn so aptly puts it, ‘the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy’.

I end by quoting the Archdeacon’s words at my commissioning:

Everliving God, strengthen and sustain your servant Robin, that with patience and understanding he may serve you in this place as Director of Music: give him reverence in worship, sincerity of purpose and joy in his heart. And grant that all that he does may be to the honour and glory of your name through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My ministry here has blessed me. I pray that it has also been honouring to God, and a blessing to all those who have worshipped here with me.

Robin Rees

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