Organ lesson was the key to unlocking musical passion

Christopher Wren, of Tickhill, has been the organist at St Jude's Church, Hexthorpe for over 30 years. Picture: Andrew Roe
Christopher Wren, of Tickhill, has been the organist at St Jude's Church, Hexthorpe for over 30 years. Picture: Andrew Roe

Christopher Wren’s introduction to church music began when he was just ten years old in the awe-inspiring surroundings of the Grade 1 listed St George’s Church.

Organ lessons at the church - now Doncaster MInster - sparked a life-long love of the instrument, and of music, which, 60 years on, is still a passion.

Christopher, now 71, recalled his teenage years spent playing at churches around Doncaster, including at St Wilifrid’s, Cantley, All Saints in Intake and St John’s in Wadworth.

Playing in front of an audience for the first time at the harvest festival at St Winifred’s near Maltby, was “nerve-wracking”, but the nerves disappeared after the first few notes.

“Playing the church organ is something that’s second nature to me now, but I did find those first public performances quite hard,” he said.

It was apparent that music was in the young man’s blood and Christopher, now of Wong Lane, Tickhill. opted for a career as a music teacher. He started his teacher training in 1960 at Durham University where he continued playing the church organ, and had a regular spot at St Cuthbert’s in Shadforth from November 1960 until June 1963 and in the parish at the college of the Venerable Bede Durham from October 1961 until June 1963.

The music enthusiast met his wife, Gladys at Durham University and the couple returned to Doncaster and married in 1965. They have three children Katherne, Paul and Angela.

Christopher’s career as a music teacher saw him teach hundreds of children across Doncaster through his posts at Woodfield High school and Balby Carr school.

He said: “I suppose I wanted to pass on my love of music to other people. And it was always really rewarding to see the children catch the music bug. It’s a shame people don’t seem to be as enthusiastic about music as they used to be.”

Today, Christopher still regularly plays for worshippers at St Jude’s Church in Hexthorpe, where he first played in 1977.

The Christopher Wren singers, which he established in 1979, are still going strong with over 50 singers, who have performed at prestigious venues across the country, including St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

As an organist, Christopher counts a performance at Westminster Abbey among his proudest moments, and says he intends to continue singing, playing and performing for as long as his ‘brain and fingers are still active’.