St Peter's, Eastern Hill

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St Peter's Eastern Hill logo St Peter's, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, Australia
Vicar Hugh Kempster
Assistant Priests Graeme Rutherford

Philip Gill

Assistant Curate Samuel Dow
Associate Clergy Tom Brown SSM, Lawrie Styles, Neil Fryer, Grant Edgecombe
Director of Music Andrew Raiskums
Affiliations Anglican Church
Location Corner of Albert and Gisborne Streets
Website stpeters.org.au

St Peter's, Eastern Hill is the Anglican parish church of the City of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The parish is in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne and dates from 1847. The letters patent of Queen Victoria declaring the city status of Melbourne were read on the steps of St Peter's in 1848. The parish is well known as belonging to the Anglo-Catholic or High Church tradition.

St Peter's central position in Melbourne means it is able to extend a number of ministries from the parish including a hospital chaplain, university chaplain and parliamentary chaplain. The church is also the location of a breakfast program for Melbourne's inner-city homeless.

Location[edit]

The church is located on the corner of Albert and Gisborne Streets on the eastern hill of Melbourne and, on one side, is opposite St Patrick's Cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral. On the other side it is opposite the Eastern Hill Fire Station. Although the church is located close to the city centre it draws parishioners and visitors from all over Melbourne and internationally.

History[edit]

St Peter's in 1854

St Peter's is the oldest Anglican church standing on its original site in the inner city area. The foundation stone was laid by Charles La Trobe on 18 June 1846. The building was first used for services in 1847 even though the first part was not completed until 1848. During the gold rush years, around 400 baptisms and a similar number of weddings took place each year. The building was extended in 1854 to bring its seating capacity up to 1050, much of this space was in galleries that were removed in 1896. The last extensions to the building took place in 1876. The first vicarage (1849) and schoolbuilding stood on land subsequently purchased by the State Parliament in 1884, following which the present vicarage and a new school building (now Keble House) were built.

St Peter's today

Under Henry Handfield, the longest-serving of the 19th century vicars (vicar 1854-1900), St Peter's developed a reputation for good choral music and increasing involvement in social outreach in the inner city, especially when the Sisters of the Holy Name commenced working within the parish boundaries in the 1880s. At this time St Peter's profile was that of a very restrained high church, established mainly through teaching in sermons. The opera singer Nellie Melba had organ lessons at the church as a schoolgirl. The novelist Henry Handel Richardson worshipped at St Peter's and fictionalised this part of her life in an episode in The Getting of Wisdom.

Festal High Mass[edit]

In 1900 Ernest Selwyn Hughes (vicar 1900-26) stamped the parish with an explicit Anglo-Catholic identity, introducing a high mass as the main Sunday liturgy, along with vestments and incense. His mild Christian Socialism was developed by his successor, Farnham Edward Maynard (1926–64), who emphasised a sometimes radical message through publications and radio broadcasts. At his instigation the Brotherhood of St Laurence, then a small religious community, came to work in the Fitzroy part of the parish in 1933 and has developed in different ways to contribute to Melbourne's social conscience. The Catholic and inclusive attitudes of Hughes and Maynard has continued to influence the parish to the present.

Music[edit]

St Peter's is renowned for the quality of its music. The Choir of St Peter's Eastern Hill is a volunteer mixed choir which leads the church's liturgical music every Sunday as well as for weekday feasts.

The choir's main commitment is at the 11 a.m. High Mass each Sunday. A cantor also sings at the 9.30 am Mass, which has a specific family focus. Evensong, at 5.00 pm on Sundays, features a wide variety of musical styles, from simple plainsong services to the Evensong repertoire of the English tradition.

There is a certain bias in the choir's repertoire towards music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods (Dufay, Ockeghem, Josquin des Prez, Firmin Lebel, Palestrina, Eccard, Byrd, Monteverdi, Gesualdo, Bach, ...). The choir also performs many of the masses of Mozart and Haydn, as well as works from the Romantic and modern periods, including masses by Schubert, Rheinberger, Fauré and Britten. Contemporary works, including house compositions and commissions from Australian composers (Terpstra[disambiguation needed], Pearson[disambiguation needed], and Hodgson[disambiguation needed]) are also in the choir's extensive repertoire.

Plainsong forms a major part of the sung Ordinary of the Mass and of the Office of Evensong; it is an integral part of St Peter's life and liturgical witness.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Holden, Colin, From Tories at Prayer to Socialists at Mass: a History of St Peter's Eastern Hill 1846-1996, Melbourne, 1996.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°48′36″S 144°58′31″E / 37.8101°S 144.9752°E / -37.8101; 144.9752