Loughaghery Presbyterian Church
The first mention of choir was in “The Witness” on August 2nd 1895, when after the renovations, the choir space, which I have previously mentioned, was described in that paper. But in the first half of the 1800’s there was a precentor – Thomas Gracey. He is mentioned in connection with the Communion services and was paid 7s. 7d. for the extra work involved at that time.
It was a pedal organ and it was dedicated on a beautiful mid-summer’s day – 21st June 1942, amid a great feeling of excitement. The choir sang two anthems, “How amiable are thy Dwellings” and “As pants the Hart” to packed houses. Mr. Robert Moorhead played for the opening Sunday. Miss Nora Moorhead was the first organist for five years until her marriage in 1947 at a salary of £26 yearly.
She was succeeded by Mr. W. H. Adams, Lisburn at £40 yearly. It was in Mr. Adams’ time that the present pipe organ was installed in 1951. It came from Mulavilly Church of Ireland, and our little organ went to Ballynahinch Congregational Church. Mr. Adams left in 1955 and our present organist Mrs. Isabel Scott began work, thirty-three years ago.
On 13th December 1981 the new choir room was opened, a wild snowy evening. To help with funds the choir beforehand held Sales in Lisburn Markets, started the collection of waste paper and held concerts. Our first effort was a -party on New Year’s night 1979. Everyone in the congregation got a printed invitation, but unfortunately the weather was unfavourable, roads were blocked with snow and temperatures were very sub-zero around minus 15. Fifty people turned up; we had an enjoyable night despite the snow and so began the Choir Room Fund.
The clock in the Choir Room was given by Jean Stewart (nee Scott) a previous choir member in memory of her parents. A plaque was donated in memory of Jim Eddie by his family. Jim had been a member of the choir since he was a lad of twelve until his final illness. Mr. & Mrs. Fred Clarke presented the blue curtains at the organ and choir seats at the same time.
Another person worthy of note is Minnie Irvine. She was a member for over seventy years from the age of twelve until lately, surely that must be a record.
Back Row: T. Gourley, J. McKibbin, D. Kirk, R. Irvine, D. Campbell, O. Green, W.J. Rainey, J. Murdock, R. Bell, Wallace Beatty.
Front Row: S. Rutherford, H. Scott, J. Eddie, J. Scott, Rev. J.H. Rankin, W. Irvine, S. Bell, J. McDonald, W. Rutherford, F. Magowan}
Where many memories lie,
There grows erect, majestic
A stately elm tree.
Its arms widespread extended,
Sweet cumbrous in the blast,
And lie in lazy dullness
When boreas has passed.Its graceful towering dome top
An airy lightness bears,
The golden tints of autumn
Its fading foliage wears,
Its trunk, its bole, its heavy limbs
Are massive as can be,
You couldn’t find a grander
Than our old elm tree.One evening in the gloaming
At night the choir met,
For fun, as well as singing
Sweet times we’ll ne’er forget.
In sauntering slowly down the green,
I happened for to see
A maiden fair trip lightly
And hide behind the tree.
I thought she might be coaxing
But then it might be fun,
What tempted her, on seeing me,
Behind the tree to run.
And wanted to be free
broke through all my shyness
And crept behind the tree.The tree became a trysting place
We met as lovers do,
We often sat beneath its shade
Our friendship to renew;
Sly cupid smote us sorely
That maiden fair and me
Then waved her wand and pointed
To the Church beside the tree.Those long gone days are vivid
Their memory’s ever green
The days of youthful innocence
When love’s first blush is seen,
The winter snows are on us now,
And happy still are we
We bless the night when first we met
Beneath the elm tree.
And when this little flicker’s gone
That shades so dim a light,
When life’s frail curtain is withdrawn
That hides the day from night.
They’ll lay us gently in the dust,
Fulfilling God’s decree
To sleep the sleep of blessed hope
Beside the old elm tree.