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For a number of years, Fr Mark and Tim Pratt have been talking about the possibility of running a week-long festival of Liturgical music. The original ideas involved a very full schedule of three services a day with recitals and concerts throughout the week, and as nice as the idea was, it became clear it just wasn’t realistic. However, rather than just abandon the concept, we’ve developed a smaller scale, but hopefully just as effective programme to celebrate the rich variety of liturgical music.

icosa choir.jpg

Each day of the week will feature a lunchtime recital of liturgical music, and then different choirs will sing Evensong; each day’s service will feature music from a different century. The full programme is printed below. It will be great to welcome visiting choirs to the festival, we are particularly excited to be able to host “Icosa” Choir who are from Manchester and comprise a large number of former members of the National Youth Choir. We hope the festival will provoke interest and support both from our local community, but also the wider Anglican church.

The week will kick off with two Pre-reformation Services – Vespers and Compline – which our own choir sing each month through the year, with a Festival Launch reception in between. It promises to be a fascinating and intriguing week – please come along and support the festival!




Day 1 – Monday 28th August (Pre-reformation)

St Mary’s Priory Choir

6.00 pm           Choral Vespers (Treble voices)

6.30 pm                       Festival Launch Reception

7.30 pm                       Choral Compline (Men’s voices)


Day 2 – Tuesday 29th August (16th Century)

Ethelbert Consort

1.15 pm                       Lunchtime Recital – Organ

5.30 pm                       Choral Evensong


Day 3 – Wednesday 30th August (17th Century)

Academia Musica

1.15 pm                       Lunchtime Recital – Voice

5.30 pm                       Choral Evensong


Day 4 – Thursday 31st August (18th Century)

Ethelbert Consort

1.15 pm                       Lunchtime Recital – Voice

5.30 pm                       Choral Evensong



Day 5 – Friday 1st September (19th Century)

St Mary’s Priory Choir

1.15 pm                       Lunchtime Recital – Organ

5.30 pm                       Choral Evensong



Day 6 – Saturday 2nd September (20th Century)

St Mary’s Priory Chamber Choir

1.15 pm                       Lunchtime Recital – Voice

5.30 pm                       Choral Evensong



Day 7 – Sunday 3rd September (21st Century)

Icosa Choir

6.00 pm                       Choral Evensong followed by choral recital

8.00 pm                       Closing Buffet Supper





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“Sometimes we need to take risks” was the message delivered by the Canon Mark Soady at the Monmouthshire County Council Civic Service at St Mary’s Priory Church on Sunday, June 25th.


Using the Parable of the Good Samaritan as the basis of his address he drew a distinction between the religious officials , bound up by their desire to keep to, not just the letter, but the minutia of the law: and the Samaritan, whose driving influence was Love. Fr Mark said, ” I am certainly  not saying we should bin all Health & Safety rules, but we need to approach them wisely. As last week’s disaster at Kensington shows we need rules to protect people, but leadership is about knowing where the line is drawn with regard to rules and regulations. We need to think more about our heart than saving our backsides. We need a balance as in all things.


Jesus Christ the Saviour, who I believe, in allowed himself to hang on a cross so that he, in love, could wipe away my sins, he  didn’t first go and do a risk assessment – and it is He who following the parable of the Good Samaritan orders me/us to ‘Go and do likewise’.

Making mention of the Council Chairman’s Charities he said, “In naming Wales Air Ambulance as one of her charities Cllr Maureen Powell is hoping to support a group who are sometimes called to  take ‘risks in love’ to receive the sick as did the Samaritan in todays Gospel”.

As Refugee week draws to a close Fr Mark pointed out that the other message of this parable is that all humans are our neighbours – even if they look different or behave differently from us. “This Town and County has  a good record of welcoming ‘the alien’ in to their community, I commend this County for its programe of welcome for refugees – long may it continue”.


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Our NSM Curate Revd Jeffrey Pearse was today Ordained Priest  at Newport Cathedral by the Bishop of Monmouth.


Fr Jeff with the Bishop of Monmouth

He will Celebrate his first Eucharist tomorrow at 10.30am at St Peter’s Church, Llanwenarth.


The Bishop vested Fr Jeff following his Ordination.

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The Vicar’s current PA Catherine Jones will leave her post on July 31st and will be replaced by Maggie Pratt on September 1st.

Fr Mark has thanked Catherine for her service and welcomed Maggie:

Maggie joins us with a lot of experience. She is currently secretary to the Priory Development Trust and is a former PA to Archbishop Barry Morgan.

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June 24th/25th

Details how activities over the weekend on June 24/25th effects us at St Mary’s Priory: Ordination, First Eucharist & MCC Civic Service



Among those to be Ordained Priest at the Monmouth Diocesan Ordination in Newport Cathedral during the morning of June 24th is our NSM Curate, Deacon Jeff Pearse.


Deacon Jeff with Fr Mark on Palm Sunday

First Eucharist 

ON Sunday June 25th at 10.30am the Reverend Jeff Pearse will Celebrate his first Eucharist at St Peter’s Church, Llanwenarth. Deacon Jeff’s  former Incumbent from Manchester, The Revd Paul Gully will be the Preacher and Fr Mark will act as Deacon.

There will be no Holy Eucharist celebrated in St Mary’s Priory that morning.

Following the service there will be  a Reception at St Peter’s Hall.


Monmouthshire County Council Civic Service 

The Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council, Cllr Maureen Powell will hold her Civic Service at the Priory Church at 3pm on Sunday, June 25th. Fr Mark her Chaplain and our Vicar will preach.


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Today we said to Farewell to Bishop David Thomas.  The service was attended by a large Congregation, along with 70 robed clergy,  a large number of Bishops including the Bishops of Monmouth, Swansea & Brecon and St Asaph.

The Principal Celebrant at the Service was the Bishop of Ebbs fleet, accompanied by six Concelebrants. The concelebrating priests, had been invited by Rosemary due to their particularly close association with Bishop David, they were The Reverend Canon Huw Thomas, The Reverend Canon Richard Harper, The Reverend Canon Jeffrey Gainer ,The Reverend Canon Keith Evans ,The Reverend Canon Mark Soady (Vicar & Prior)  and The Reverend Nicholas Barry.


Bishop David’s Coffin was received on the Eve of the Requiem Mass

The Lessons were read by John Thomas (Bishop David’s son) and Mrs Sheila Davies (Asst Warden). The Gospel was read by Deacon Sarah Gillard-Faulkner (Sub Prior).

Bishop David’s daughter, Mrs Fliss Barry delivered the Eulogy and Canon Peter Jones gave the address.

During Communion the Priory Church Choir, under the direction of Tim Pratt sung Pie Jesu and In Paradisum from Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in D minor. A Hymn written by  Bishop David for his father Bishop Jack, was among the hymns sung at the service.

At the conclusion of the service six Priests Ordained by Bishop David acted as bearers as the coffin was carried out of the church for a private Burial service, while the Choir sung Dyson’s Nunc Dimitis in C minor.

Fr Mark Soady had received Bishop David’s body in to the Priory church the evening before.

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Speaking at the Opening Holy Eucharist of the St David’s Cathedral Festival, Canon Mark Soady claims music brings us closer to our creator God.


Fr Mark said:

St Augustine of Hippo is reputed to have said, ” He who sings prays twice”, although some scholars dispute he ever said that what is certain is that singing is a method of worship appointed by God, for since the beginning of creation that ability to sing was in our hearts.

A late medieval German Benedictine Abbot, Johannesburg Trithemius portrayed Raphael – traditionally the Archangel in charge of healing – presiding over the popularisation of music. In our own day and in our own land dozens of organisations are harnessing the healing power of music: charities like Music in Hospital, which employs professional musicians to sing and play for people who are sick; Tenovus, the cancer charity, which has formed choirs for people who have suffered or are still suffering from cancer; the Forget-Me-Not Choir, for people living with dementia; and professional Music Therapists, who use music in one-to-one sessions to treat a wide range of mental as well as physical illness. The music psychologist, Dr Nigel Marshall says, “Music is becoming an increasingly important part of healthcare and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that taking part in, or experiencing music can have significant benefits on our overall level of wellbeing”.

The Book of Acts records that at the Ascension two angels asked the Apostles after Jesus had ascended “Why stand there looking up?” I think we all often metaphorically stand and look up / look for the other. We all search for a glimpse of heaven, and what is more music gives us that glimpse. In the Book of Revelation we read that around the throne of God there is singing day in day out. It is because of that St Benedict calls on his monks to pray 7 times a day, and why this and other Cathedral Churches have the daily reciting of the offices.


Nearly four years ago I established a new Monastic Community at St Mary’s Priory in Abergavenny. We follow the spirit of the rule of St Benedict because the Priory was established in 1087 as a Benedictine Institution. Four times a day we meet to say the offices, but I became aware that something was lacking, we often failed to reach ‘the other’ so this Academic Year we designated one of the lay members as responsible for music and in recruiting targeted a young musician. The presence of the Concentor (as we call him) has transformed our worship, such is the place of music in the worship of God.

On Monday night last, some young people spend a pleasant evening enjoying the music they love, but that enjoyment was literally brought to earth with a bang. The bang of a terrible explosion caused by a person or persons who are very sick. Those involved would have come down from feeling like they were in heaven to feeling like they were in hell.

We need to use those glimpses of heaven that we experience to work hard to ensure that God’s will is “done on earth as it is in heaven”, so that we’d can bring true peace to the world, so that there will be no acts of violence or terror like we saw this week.

In thanking God for the gift of music and for the glimpse it gives us of heaven, we must also commit to use that gift of music so that we can show others something of God…..and thus fulfill our Lord’s last command to “Baptise all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.

The Festal Eucharist saw the Cathedral Choir, accompanied by the British Sinfonetta Strings, sing:

  • the Missa brevity Sancti Johannis de Deo by Haydn
  • Ubi Caritas  by Durafle
  • Cantata Domino by Monterverdi





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