The musical life of Greyfriars


The Greyfriars Choir

The choir sings at the main Kirk Sunday services. We also sing for the occasional special service or wedding. The choir sing introits, anthems and communion motets, as well as leading the congregation in the hymn singing. The choir rehearses every Sunday at 10.00am and has a practice on a Thursday at 7.30pm approximately once a month.

Student Choral Awards

Choral awards are available each term, nominally one for each of the four voice parts, Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass. Choral awards require a commitment to regularly attend choir practices and performances, and the awards are paid at the end of each term.

Awards are open to all university students, and to people of any age who are currently studying singing or a musical instrument. The award is currently £25 per service, up to a maximum of £650 per year.

An informal audition form part of the selection process. Some singing experience and sight-reading ability will be required.

Organists Award

Are you studying the organ and keen to gain more playing experience, or to experience choir accompaniment or conducting? Then you too could be eligible for an annual award, if you are also interested in becoming a member of the choir.

How to join

Interested? Then come along to our Sunday service and talk to our Organist and Choirmaster, Henry Wallace. Alternatively, please leave your name and contact details with the church office, and we will pass this on to Henry.

No audition is required to join the choir (if you are not applying for an award), but a voice test can be arranged if you wish. Some sight reading ability is an advantage, though not essential. A reasonable ear and the ability to sing in tune are both important.

Joining the choir normally involves a pre-arrange trial Sunday (after your initial contact) when you can join in with the choir, and see how well you get on. You will also have a chance to talk to current members,

The Greyfriars Organ

The Peter Collins organ was built in 1990, with the then Organist of Greyfriars Kirk, Michael Chibbett, acting as adviser. The organ is primarily a new instrument but incorporates some pipework from the previous Hamilton organ in Greyfriars, and some ranks from other organs.

The organ is a blend of German Baroque, French Classical and British organs. The main structure is unmistakably German, most evident in the shape of the beautifully decorated case. The Werkprinzip design has 8ft Hauptwerk (Great) high up in the centre, 4ft Rückpositiv (Positive) at the front of the gallery, and 16ft Pedal towers on either side. The third manual doubles as a Brüstwerk, speaking forwards through the ornate grills below the Great, and a complete Swell department, speaking out of the back of the organ case through large Swell shutters.

The organ is influenced by the French school, with fully developed Cornets and mutations on all three manual departments, French style reeds on the Swell, and an unusual Gross Tierce. There is also Spanish influence, seen in the striking horizontal trumpets. British characteristics include the Swell strings, some of the flutes, and the gentle 8ft Diapason sound.

The organ has mechanical action to the keyboards and pedals, and electric stop action. It has a total of 50 speaking ranks and is tuned to a mildly unequal temperament (Neidhardt 18th Century). It is now the largest original working Peter Collins organ in the world.