Former Larne musician remembered at ‘Songs of Praise’ evening

Tribute was paid to a former organist at St Cedma’s Church during a special event in the historic Larne location at the weekend.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 5:52 pm
From left to right: Richard Varr, members of the brass ensemble, Patricia McKinley- Hutchinson and the organist Rev Dr Ian Mills, Curate at St Cedma's Church.

Following the death of Archy McNeill, a promise was made to remember him in music and so it was that with the collaboration of the Rev Dr Ian Mills, Curate of St Cedma’s, and Patricia McKinley-Hutchinson that a ‘Songs of Praise’ evening was held on Saturday (November 2) in the church.

Favourite hymns were selected and conducted by Richard Yarr, presenter of BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Sounds Sacred’, who provided an insight into the writing of the words and music of each hymn.

Accompanied by a brass ensemble and organ played by Rev Ian, who is also the current President of the Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters, a large congregation, drawn from around the Larne area, had a wonderful evening of singing hymns in this old church - it has been site of Christian worship for well over a thousand years.

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Richard Varr conducting the congregation.

Rev Ian had obtained special musical arrangements for each hymn and as a result, the combination of brass with organ and excellent congregational participation echoed what he had forecast: “The singing of hymns is the lifeblood of the church’s worship across many of our traditions. I can guarantee that you will be uplifted by joining us as we sing ‘Songs of Praise’.”

As part of the evening Richard Yarr, who his no stranger to the Co Antrim town, having adjudicated at the Larne Music Festival on several occasions in recent years, conducted a short interview with Patricia about Archy McNeill, the well-loved musician who died in June of this year.

In addition to inspiring many young musicians through his teaching at Larne High School, Archy had been organist and choirmaster in St Cedma’s. He was also well-known as a member of the concert group ‘Gaslight’.

Along with the previous church Rector, Stephen Forde, he had formed the St Cedma’s Singers. The ‘Singers’ then feelingly sang ‘I watch the Sunrise’ as a tribute to Archy’s memory.

A tribute interview by Richard Varr with Patricia McKinley- Hutchinson regarding Archy McNeill, 'St Cedma's Singers' in background

The Rector David Lockhart expressed the thanks to all performers for a wonderful uplifting evening of music.

A retiring collection of £780 was shared between St Cedma’s Building Fund and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, which was the chosen charity of the late Archy McNeill.