Immanuel’s GROUND

Warwick's West Gallery Quire

The Quire

Immanuel's Ground is a costumed group of singers and instrumentalists who perform music of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, reviving the psalmody and hymnody of the rural parish church from around 200 years ago, so much beloved of Thomas Hardy and exemplified in his novels and poetry.

This raw and exciting music is genuinely "music of the people", which found its way from the established church into the independent chapels, before becoming lost and almost forgotten by the beginning of the twentieth century. The Quire's repertoire also includes secular music from the Georgian period, and psalmody from the American tradition in the same era, taking to heart the instruction of John Wesley to "sing lustily and with good courage".

Formed in the Autumn of 2001, the Quire currently has some 29 singers, plus one or two instruments on each part (SATB). Members of the Quire come from all over the "Heart of England" (generally speaking Oxfordshire, Northants, Worcestershire and Warwickshire) and meet to rehearse at Northgate Methodist Church in Warwick each Wednesday night at 8.00 pm, excepting those in August.

The Quire has appeared at events, both sacred and secular, including church services, carol concerts, the Bromsgrove Proms, Harvest Festival day at Cogges Rural Museum at Witney, and the Nelson Bicentenary celebrations at Burton Dassett. It also hosts an annual Workshop Day featuring music by local composers, and a Carol Day immediately after Christmas, both in the village of Byfield, Northamptonshire.

The name Immanuel's Ground is taken from Isaac Watts ' Hymn XXX, Book 2, vv. 1-3  &  8-10:

Come, we that love the Lord
And let our joys be known;
Join in a song, with sweet accord
And thus surround the throne.

The sorrows of the mind
Be banished from the place;
Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less.

Let those refuse to sing
That never knew our God,
But children of the heavn'ly King
May speak their joys abroad.

The men of grace have found
Glory begun below;
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow.

The hill of Zion yields
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heav'nly hill
Or walk the golden streets.

Then let our songs abound
And ev'ry tear be dry;
We're marching through Immanuel's ground
To fairer worlds on high.


Historically, Gordon Ashman, who was a co-founder with Dave Townsend of the West Gallery Music Association (WGMA), found these words set to the tune BIRMINGHAM in a church manuscript music book written by one John Moore who was a nurseryman in Shropshire. Born in 1820, Moore wrote two manuscript books of music in the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. By the age of 17 he was already an accomplished musician, having collected together some 80 hymn and psalm tunes, and nearly twice that number of dance tunes which must have been popular at that time.  These were the subject matter of his two manuscripts, leaving one to guess whether they were meant for eventual publication.


Copy of the manuscript page
from which this version of
'BIRMINGHAM' was taken.

Modern reproduction of the same
tune, taken from the WGMA Psalter,
'Praise & Glory'.

This setting of BIRMINGHAM has traditionally been used by the WGMA as the opening piece at each of its meetings, although we have gone further and adopted the name from the words of the last verse.  Here is a midi file of the music, also a music file in four-part harmony suitable for use with the 'Capella' music writing programme.  Download a pdf file of the music and words for BIRMINGHAM.