St Martin's, Brasted



Gloria and our currently small regular choir would love to hear from anyone – male or female, young or old, who is willing to swell the singing numbers for our Christmas services, especially the Carol Service on the evening of Sunday 18 December. No previous experience needed, no long-term commitment, just enthusiasm, the ability to enjoy singing in tune and to attend rehearsals on Thursday evenings in December. The reward will be the opportunity to help to make Christmas at St Martin’s as joyful and as tuneful as it always has been and to do so in good and cheerful company!
Contact our Director of Music:
Gloria Toplis, 07751 173800


Music Report for APCM, 16th May 2021

At the APCM held in September 2020 I reported a static situation following the lockdown of March of that year. We had been unable to meet as a choir so some of us had for months been rehearsing via Zoom – a wonderful platform for video conferencing but unsuited to communal music-making. Even after short services in the church had recommenced Government rules had prohibited singing. Finally – and just in time for our Harvest Festival – regulations were relaxed and a small group of singers met for the first time at our usual choir practice time on 24 th September to try out the Harvest hymns in new positions: behind the congregation, distanced from each other and from anyone sitting in the back pews. It is a tribute to both the long experience of singing together of Brasted choir and the hard work of our singers that, despite over 6 months of virtual rehearsals during which none of us heard the voices of the others, together they pulled together to sound as usual.

This was not to be a permanent return. Our single ‘actual’ rehearsal for the Christmas carol service, at which nine people placed at a two-metre distance from one another managed to be accommodated in the chancel, was a joyous occasion - but the carol service had to be cancelled because of a Covid surge. Choir rehearsals continue on Zoom and Easter Sunday marked our return to church; a small number of singers is allowed but still the congregation may not sing.

The distance between the organ and the west-end singers, and the fact that not all members of our very small choir have yet been able to return to church, are factors which have placed an enormous amount of stress on a few. We are indebted to these few for taking on the challenge of leading the hymns, as well as to the long tradition of music at our church.

I am very pleased to report that our wonderful organ has not been adversely affected from months of not being played (this could have been a problem). There is as yet no news on when congregational singing might return, though I should let you know that this is permitted outdoors provided people follow social distancing guidelines. Maybe we shall have a warm day and this might happen!

Gloria Toplis


After the APCM held in 2019 the choir continued to work hard to prepare, not only for our regular Sunday morning services but also for some special choral services. On 29th September we were joined for our Harvest Evensong by members of several other church choirs from the Sevenoaks area. Our programme was an ambitious one and included English music from the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Purcell, responses by Ayleward and an introit by Maurice Greene, as well as an anthem by the modern composer Andrew Carter. In December we very much enjoyed taking part in an Advent Carol Service at The Drive Methodist Church, again with other choirs in the area. We were, as usual, grateful that friends and family members rehearsed and sang with us for our Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Those of us who were able to attend enjoyed an organ recital given by Alex Trigg, a sixth-former and music scholar at Tonbridge school and organist of St Lawrence Church, Seal Chart, which took place on 4th August. A former chorister at King’s College Cambridge, Alex was no newcomer to the recital platform and his performance could only be described as ‘stunning’. In 2019 I mentioned that Stephen Davies, who gave our 2018 organ recital, had recorded a programme of music for a CD using our instrument. Towards the end of last year he donated some of the finished CDs to us, to be sold to raise money for Porchlight; I can report that they raised nearly £200.

A very peaceful Evensong on 15th March was our last service before COVID threw the country into lockdown. We had been looking forward to a festival of music by the Wesleys in what would have been our third annual ‘come and sing’ hour at the end of Good Friday. Our usual soloists Paul Weaser and Sarah Fenn as well as our choir had worked really hard to learn the music and Stephen Davies had agreed to play the organ for us, but it was not to be. We have not, however, stagnated since March. Knowing that, with the singing voice it is a case of ‘use it or lose it’, some of us have been participating in a weekly Zoom choir practice – singing on our own to my piano accompaniment whilst muted, and enjoying a chat afterwards. We have learned some new anthems and several new hymn tunes and we very much hope that we might sing these to you as soon as we feel that it is safe to do so.

My thanks go to Linda, to our incredibly loyal choir members, and to all of you who support us - also to Catherine for putting music onto the website when we were unable to enter the church.

Gloria Toplis


The music at our church makes an important contribution to services and the choir continues to work hard at the job of leading the singing. We meet on Thursday evenings to rehearse and warmly welcome anyone who would like to join us or just sample what we do (further details from Director of Music Gloria Toplis, We are fortunate that St. Martin’s has an excellent acoustic and a very fine organ. Our performance space is often used by local choirs and instrumental ensembles for their own concerts.

Church music repertoire constantly changes and we have now become accustomed to a new setting of the sung parts of the Common Worship service, written for the Brasted choir and congregation. Recently, through the Pew News our Rector Linda has asked people to let us know of particular hymns which they would like to sing, and we look forward to receiving suggestions.

As in previous years, we were grateful for the support of visitors who augmented our numbers for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols in December and made it possible for us again to perform some of the choir carols traditionally associated with it which involve larger forces than we have in-house. In the evening of Good Friday of this year, as last year, we invited anyone who would like to join us to rehearse and sing a choral work appropriate for the occasion – this year the Fauré Requiem. The result was that around fifty singers responded to our invitation and, together with our own choir gave a creditable performance to the accompaniment of organist Marilyn Harper. We were grateful to Sarah Fenn and Paul Weaser of the Cantate choir who sang the solos so beautifully, and to all who came to enjoy Fauré’s music with us that evening as singers or listeners.

Following the success of the organ recital held in December 2017 to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the installation of the instrument and the rededication of the church, another was planned for 1st December 2018. Stephen Davies performed a well-varied programme and introduced each of his pieces to the audience in a pleasant and relaxed manner, which was much appreciated. During January of this year Stephen recorded some music of Bach and Brahms in our church; the recordings are being processed and we eagerly await the CD which will be released in due course. The next recital is to take place on Sunday 4th August 2019 and will be given by Alex Trigg, a highly talented young organist who is a music scholar and member of the sixth form at Tonbridge School.


Sunday morning services, as well as the monthly services of Evensong, are led by our choir which rehearses on Thursday evenings between 7.30 and 8.30p.m. Our music is largely traditional, consisting of hymns and some psalms and canticles, and we have a repertoire of anthems which we sing at some of the evensongs, and as appropriate for particular services such as the Harvest Festival. We are few in number but a jolly group, and would offer a warm welcome to anyone who would like to join us.

At Christmas and Easter the choir is augmented by visitors so that we are able to perform special music. On Easter Sunday of 2017, we sang movements from a Haydn mass to the accompaniment of a string quartet and timpani. At Christmas of that year a choir from Bromley sang with us for our Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. On Good Friday of 2018, in addition to two visiting soloists a large number of singers joined us for a ‘come and sing’ performance of Stainer’s The Crucifixion.

Our fine mechanical-action organ, built by the firm of J.W.Walker and Sons Ltd., was installed in 1992. To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of its inauguration, in December 2017 a recital was given by international organ recitalist James McVinnie. James’ programme, which contained pieces taken from the organ repertoire of the renaissance to the present day, allowed the many different tone-colours of our instrument to come to the fore and delighted the large audience.

Many visitors to our church comment on its excellent acoustic, the large performance space in the chancel and the fine instrument. Within our area our church is in a unique position to host musical events. We welcome visitors who wish to join us in providing the music for our worship, and we welcome performing groups who would like to hire the church for their own concerts.

Gloria Toplis (Director of Music)