Christ Church Highbury
|Christ Church Highbury|
March, 2009 photo of Christ Church Highbury
|Location||155 Highbury Grove London|
|Denomination||Church of England|
|Diocese||Diocese of London|
|Reader(s)||Polly Arthur, Paddy Marsh|
|Director of music||Rachel Maby|
Architecture and construction
The site was given by John Dawes, a local benefactor and landlord, and the church was built by Thomas Allom in a cruciform shape with a short chancel, transepts, and nave from 1847 to 1848. Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner write that Christ Church Highbury 'is a successful and original use of Gothic for a building on a cruciform plan with broad octagonal crossing. The cross-plan with broad nave and crossing was popular for churches in the low church tradition where an effective auditorium for the spoken word was preferred to a plan designed for an elaborate liturgy.'
Since then, several changes have been made to the church, including the addition of a balcony in 1872, and new rooms for children's work and fellowship in 1980.
After the July 2005 bombings in central London, clergy at the church published a prayer and invited the congregation to pray, 'O Saviour Christ, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, East nor West, black nor white, we pray for all, of whatever nation, who are suffering after the explosions in London.'
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, visited the church on 10 March 2006, to help alongside the regular volunteers at the church's night shelter for the homeless. According to the Diocese of London web site, Dr Williams 'got on with the job in hand, serving food, making beds and chatting to the guests using the shelter'. Each winter the church provides shelter, a hot meal, bed and breakfast for homeless people of the local area.
Christ Church Highbury has a rich musical past and present. Its first Director of Music, Thomas Kilner, regularly published books and articles on psalmody. The church is used regularly by various musical groups in the local area, including Eclectic Voices and Highbury Young Singers. Jonathan Dove's community opera Tobias and the Angel was premiered at the church in 1999, before being performed on a tour by the Young Vic theatre group.
Sunday services range from traditional to contemporary in musical style, with the 9am service consisting of traditional hymns played by piano and/or organ, while the 11am service is more informal with a mix of traditional and contemporary music. Previous Music Director, Scott Stroman, leads a monthly "Jazz Vespers" service, which mixes jazz with hymns old and new. The church was featured on Songs of Praise on 2 February 1997, in which pianist/singer LD Frazier, jazz musician Scott Stroman, and Eclectic Voices made an appearance.
- Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 4: North. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 60.
- 'Our History', Christ Church Highbury. [accessed 12 September 2012]
- Ruth Gledhill, 'Archbishop Leads the Prayers for Those Touched by Tragedy', The Times, 9 July 2005.
- 'Archbishop of Canterbury Visits Christ Church, Highbury', The Diocese of London, 15 March 2006. [accessed 12 September 2012]
- Myles Birket Foster, Anthems and Anthem Composers (London: Novello, 1901), 179.
- 'Tobias and the Angel' Archived June 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Highbury Opera Theatre. [accessed 12 September 2012]
- 'Music', Christ Church Highbury. [accessed 12 September 2012]
- BBC One: Songs of Praise, Handfuls of Heaven - Highbury, BBC. [accessed 12 September 2012]
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