How music is once more bringing people together in Sheffield

What song means the most to you?

That’s the question that a few people in Sheffield began asking during the pandemic…. and the answers have led to a wonderful new project.

Choristers singing at the Reasons To Sing concert in Sheffield

Reasons To Sing! - A community project

Nick Waterfield from Share Ministries in Sheffield worked with local people in the north of the city, and with Steel City Choristers, on the Reasons To Sing project. People were asked to identify songs that mattered most to them, or which evoked particularly strong memories. 

The responses were profound and wonderful. In May, the choristers put on a special concert featuring 12 songs, accompanied by 12 video stories. And now, they have launched a course for small group discussions as well.

Kate Caroe from Steel City Choristers takes up the story…

“The value of music and singing has perhaps never been more apparent than while live performance was so sorely missed during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“For many people, the isolation of being in lockdown highlighted the power of music and our desperate need for it – not only for our pleasure, but for our mental and spiritual health and wellbeing. Music and song have the ability to take us to another place; like other creative arts, they move us into a liminal space – a space between spaces. We want to encourage more people to sing, and this course gives people of all ages the opportunity to reflect on why singing is so valuable a part of being human.”

The Reasons To Sing concert in Sheffield

How the course came about

“The course has been written with Methodist pioneer minister, Nick Waterfield of Share Ministries. It explores the soul of our favourite songs – how singing shapes and reflects how we feel.

“The course can be used in a variety of settings: in schools, community groups, care homes, churches and for private reflection. The course consists of six short videos on the themes of comfort, gratitude, loss, love, unity and structure, with a set of discussion notes and suggested activities to aid contemplation.

“Each video consists of the choir singing two songs and the stories behind them, and acts as a stimulus for reflection on each of the themes. Six of the songs have been chosen by people from Parson Cross Initiative, and they have been paired with six pieces from Steel City Choristers’ traditional repertoire, thus making English choral music relevant to people’s everyday lived experiences.

“The concert was wonderful. Joshua Stephens, director of music at Steel City Choristers, said: “I think this has been the most amazing concert. One of the most amazing things about this project, which has been the best part of a year, is about making choral music more accessible, more visible. 

“Hopefully we have shown that choral music is everything from something written in 1592 to Hi Ho Silver Lining and beyond. There are absolutely no words to sum up the feel-good feeling that this project has brought.”

List of songs

There were six themes, with two songs for each:

  • Comfort: He’s Got The Whold World In His Hands / Psalm 137
  • Gratitude: What A Wonderful World / For The Beauty Of The Earth
  • Loss: The Day Thou Gavest Lord Has Ended / In Paradisum from Faure’s Requiem
  • Love: Angels From The Realms of Glory / If Ye Love Me
  • Unity: Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jerusalem
  • Structure: Mr Blue Sky / Agnus Dei from Byrd’s Mass For Four Voices

Find out more

The course materials are available now on the Steel City Choristers website or by emailing  kate@steelcitychoristers.org.uk  

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