St James's Church Services through the years
All through Revd Bligh’s incumbency there were Sunday morning celebrations at 8.00am with, twice a month, an 11.00am celebration. Occasionally there were also Sunday baptisms or children's services with catechising at 3.30pm. There were at least two celebrations on Saints Days and other special days with full choral evensong and address on some, for example, Ascension Day.
The Lord Bishop paid his first episcopal visit to the parish on Friday, July 17th 1885, when one hundred and twelve were presented to him for confirmation. “Of this number sixteen males, including nine of the choir, and twenty two females, were from Hampton Hill.” At the Harvest Festival in 1885, a 7.00 service was added for the first time and was well attended, and from 1888 three weekday services were introduced. The numbers present at the Ascension Day services in 1887 were substantially increased from previous years with seventeen communicants at 5.00, twenty-eight at 7.00 and twenty-six at 11.00. On Easter Day, 1889 more than fifty communicants came to the 7.00 celebration and nearly eighty at the 8.00 choral celebration. A full choir attended these services and for the first time an anthem was sung at the evening service: “its careful, musical and reverent rendering gave evidence to the careful practice which had been bestowed upon it”.
During the late 1880s Gospel Mission Services took place. These were intended for the many who seldom, if ever, entered a place of worship, and “thus keep themselves beyond the reach of the Gospel message of salvation which is continually being uttered from the throne of grace”. It had often been found that those who could not be persuaded to come to church might be encouraged to attend a less formal service. Such services were held in the mission rooms in the Eastbank Road and in the Pantile Fields and were intended to be a stepping stone to the church. These services were short with prayers, hymns, a Holy Scripture reading and an address. Sometimes some of the members of the Hampton Hill Orchestral Society added some sacred music, both vocal and instrumental. “There is indeed plenty of room for mission work in our midst, notwithstanding the efforts which are being made to bring home the Gospel to all, there are many who are practically living the life of heathens in our midst.”
Revd Job made some changes to the pattern of weekly
church services. From early on in his incumbency he held Holy Communion
on Sunday mornings at 7.00am and 8.00am, and on special Sundays after
the morning service (at 10.00 or 11.00). He introduced a weekly evening
service at 7.30pm or 8.00pm when the choir sang and a Midnight Service
to see the Old Year out and the New Year in. Later, in November 1899,
he proposed a new service at 4.00pm on the second Sunday in each month
for men only, the first being on the subject of warfare. He was continually
encouraging more people to attend more services, sometimes by changing
the times of services. For example, in April 1898, the time of the
Sunday morning service was changed from 10.00 to 11.00. Also, throughout
the summer months in 1896, the daily services, apart from Wednesday,
were held at 10.00. “I hope that
his may meet the convenience of those who attend, and that the regularity
of the hour may secure a larger attendance than we have at present.”
Revd Coad-Pryor made some further changes to services.
In 1914 celebration of the Holy Communion on Saints' Days was changed
to 08.00 instead of at 11.00. The local Battalion of the National
Reserves attended the regular Men's Service in 1914 and the Good Friday
Three hours Service was started in 1915. Also during 1915, 11.00 did
not seem to be a convenient hour for the daily service so evensong
was introduced at 5.30pm daily, except on Wednesdays, with Litany
on Wednesdays and Fridays at 12.00 and Holy Communion on Thursdays
at that time.
Revd Harvey also made many changes to the
patterns of worship at St James's. The daily celebration of the Holy
Communion started up again in 1923 with the idea that each day one
or two aspects of the church's work would be remembered. Ninety-five
"young soldiers of Christ"
were confirmed in the church in 1924.
A Gift Sunday was introduced in the same year
when the children could bring their
discarded toys and books to the Children's Service, and offer them
as presents to the boys and girls who were not so fortunate.
Choral celebration of the Holy Communion was started in 1925 on the
fourth Sunday in each month. It was explained that “this
simply means that instead of the Choir going out after the prayer
for the Church Militant, they will remain in their places and sing
those parts in the rest of the service which are usually sung”.
The patterns of worship were to undergo radical changes during Revd Brunt’s long incumbency. At the beginning the regular service pattern was as shown, but soon after becoming vicar, Revd Brunt and the Church Council had discussions about the times of different weekday services. There were so many different opinions that he decided to experiment over a period of time. One change he made almost straight away was to introduce a Dedication Festival and to hold a Gift Day on the same day. The December 1951 magazine reported: "On Tuesday, 11th December, our church is 88 years old. On this day in 1863 it was solemnly offered to God and dedicated in His name. At our services on this day in 1951 we shall thank God for all that this church has meant to Hampton Hill in the years that are past, and for what it means to us to-day. And we shall also bring birthday presents to ensure that the work and worship centred in this building are able to continue. What more appropriate day than a birthday for gifts that express our affection and appreciation?"
He was keen to involve members of the congregation in the Parish Communion service, for example presenting the bread and wine, and by 1965 there was a rota of people to read the lessons in church. He also wanted to include the children. As a result of the “commissions of enquiry into various aspects of parochial life” it was decided in 1954, twice a month, to have a 9.00 am service as a Parish Communion instead of the 8.45 and the 10.00 services. New hymns, less well-known settings of the psalms and canticles and more of the music of Merbecke, a Tudor church musician, were gradually introduced after some “congregational practices”. Two years later "every fourth Sunday in the month at 11.0 a.m. we hope that all our older Sunday School children will be present at Matins, and that their parents will come with them". By then the Family and Parade Service took place on the fourth Sunday in the month. The following year the 8.40 am Matins was dropped and the Family & Parade Service on the fourth Sunday moved to 9.30 am as well. Children not yet confirmed were welcomed at the altar rails to receive a blessing at the service of Holy Communion at 9.45 am on Christmas Day, 1961.
1964 was the Centenary Year with special services and parties. After much thought, several parish meetings and visits to churches where this had already happened, the 9.30am Parish Communion Service was eventually established on all Sundays in the month in 1964. "Parish Communion at 9.30 a.m. becomes central. Matins will in future be a preparation for this, and a thanksgiving for the earlier Communion at 8.0 a.m., and be said at 8.40 a.m. Once a month, usually on the fourth Sunday, there will be the customary Family and Parade Service at 11.0 a.m., but we may adapt it in various ways to make it shorter and simpler, and not always follow the pattern of Matins as in the past. As already stated, on these days there will be no Sunday Schools, but the Parish Communion will be held as usual." A new altar table was dedicated for use at the chancel steps at the new Parish Communion with the priest facing the congregation instead of having his back to it up in the sanctuary. After the 09.30 Communion every Sunday there was a Parish Breakfast at Wayside to which everybody was invited.
Fewer people were attending the Sunday evensongs by this time, so the Liturgical Committee decided to try various new and different forms of Sunday evening worship during the latter part of 1973. Some incorporated discussions, some introduced worship in the form of dance and some were taken by the Young Peoples’ Fellowship. However, over the months it became evident that there was no simple way of up-dating or varying Evensong. The question became whether to have traditional Evensong or quite a different kind of service - a really new form of worship. Also an important feature of the original form of Evensong was the choir, so people started thinking about the choir singing at the communion service. A plea went out for a choir at the Family Service, but the organist reported that the present choir "is sadly under strength". These experiments continued into 1974 when the Second Series (revised) of Evening Prayer was also introduced for a while. During 1977 Evensong was moved to 4 30 pm during the winter.
Welcome Services started in 1975 on the second Sunday in the month
at 4.30 pm. They consisted of community hymn singing, a short reading
and address, prayers, and an opportunity to meet and talk over a cup
of tea afterwards. They were suitable for the whole family and also
for those who were not used to the traditional liturgical forms of
worship. Later that year Evensong was not held
on the second Sunday. The Family and Parade Service at the
fourth Sunday Parish Communion underwent some changes in 1976 in an
attempt to make the service more meaningful and less tedious to the
young people. Then the following year it was
moved to the first Sunday in the month. In
1978 the Holy Communion on the first Sunday in the month was dropped,
the Family & Parade Service on most fourth Sundays was changed
to most first Sundays and the Parish Breakfast was held either in
Wayside or the church. A St James’s Hymn Book was also
produced in 1977 and both the Harvest Festival Service and the Carols
by Candlelight diverged from the traditional patterns. Special services
were devised to celebrate St James's Day. The Young Families' combined
Baptismal Party and Pram Service in September 1977 invited members
and also those who had been baptised in the church over the past year.
It was followed by coffee and a chat, was well attended and was deemed
The extra Sunday 12.10 Holy Communion for festivals "when announced" was dropped during 1982 and the Welcome Service was dropped in 1984. For some time it had been felt that the familiar Parade Service and Family Communion, which took place on the first Sunday of each month, needed to be replaced by a shorter and simpler service more suited to the younger members of the congregation. It was changed to a new style 'Informal Service' on Sunday 3rd March 1985. The choir started to help with the singing of the hymns, the readings and prayers were read by members of the cubs and scouts and the vicar called on younger members of the congregation to assist him during his talk. By letting the children take a prominent part in the proceedings like this, their attention and interest was held to the end. On the same Sunday every month Parish Communion was held in the evening, replacing Evensong. The times of these Sunday evening services were altered in 1987, starting at 4.30 pm in the winter and 6.30 pm in the summer. At this time another new service, the Prayer ‘n Praise Service, was introduced for Sunday evenings, after evensong or communion, with The Travellers’ group of musicians and singers. Over half the service was taken up by what is perhaps best described as congregational rock gospel music played on piano, guitar and percussion from the ‘Spirit of Praise’ songbooks, also used in the Informal Services. The remainder of the service included a reading, talk and prayers and was very informal with coffee and a chat with friends after the service. It was aimed particularly for the 13-30 age group but there was something for everyone.
The two weekday communion services continued, as in Revd Brunt's incumbency. Healing Services started on every second Wednesday evening in 1986 with worship in song, using the new Spirit of Praise songbooks, meditation or prayer and an address which focussed on the healing ministry of Jesus. Two years later they were integrated into some evening Communion services.
To celebrate the Dedication Festival on 12th December 1982, there was a repeat of a play reading at Evensong about the life and work of the first vicar of St James's, Revd Fitzwygram.
St James's Day continued to be a very pleasant 'family' occasion when all age groups came together to celebrate our Patronal Festival. "It is always uplifting when the church is very full and the singing lusty and joyful." The normal cycle of ASB Evening Prayer and sermon on Sunday evenings continued but the pattern varied. It sometimes included speakers who challenged and informed the congregation and sometimes there was a simpler style of service incorporating more modern music and liturgical dancing. These arrangements were designed to have a broad appeal to the whole congregation.
New hymn books, Ancient and Modern Revised Standard, were introduced in 1992. In the same year, for the first time, a special service of Holy Communion was celebrated on All Souls' Day. Parishioners were later invited to write the names of people or issues for prayer in the new Intercessions Book kept on the main altar. For a short period in 1993 a creche was available for under fours during the 9.30 am Sunday Parish Communion services. The first Baptismal Party, organised by the Women’s Forum, also took place in church in 1993 and continued as a popular annual event.
On Advent Sunday, 30th November, 1997, the Revised Common Lectionary was adopted at St James’s. "The Lectionary sets out which parts of the Bible are to be read in services to give both as wide a spread of the Bible as possible and also to help steer a course through it appropriate to the keeping of the Christian Year." New service orders called Common Worship were introduced throughout the Church of England, including St James's, during Advent 2000 with the Alternative Service Book (ASB.) becoming redundant on 31st December. All the communion services afterwards, except those that included a baptism, used one of three forms of Common Worship: a standard form, a form for use in Advent and Lent, and thirdly a form for all age worship particularly designed for family groups. The December 2000 Spire reported: "We have produced an inexpensive booklet which include each of the three agreed forms. Each form is complete in itself, following sequentially page by page. They are very easy for newcomers and visitors to follow. As with every change we hope that our services become more easily accessible and more meaningful for everyone."
The All Age Service was especially aimed at family groups and younger members of our congregation and included a uniformed parade of Guides, Brownies, Scouts, Cubs and Beavers. The St James's Players orchestra accompanied the hymns and songs, played music during the communion and at the end of the service. The Jays Sunday School and the uniformed groups often played an active part in this service.
The tradition of everyone putting a wafer in the patten was stopped
at the beginning of Revd Vannozzi's incumbency, with the servers putting
an estimated number of wafers in the ciborium before the service instead.
This was one of the changes that Revd Vannozzi put in place to try
to make things easier for any newcomer into church. The receptacles
for the bread and wine were kept on a small table behind the altar
instead of on the altar, with the altar being prepared just prior
to the act of communion. The Sunday Parish and All Age Communion Services
were shortened slightly by the omission of one of the hymns and by
the priest and servers clearing up during the last hymn instead of
before it. New service booklets were made specially for each liturgical
season, with the covers in the correct colour for each season, as
Revd Vannozzi wanted to make more of the changes within the Christian
service booklets were made for the All Age Communion Services
with photographs and explanations of each part of the service, mainly
for the youngsters, but were found to be very helpful for all ages.