Monthly Archives: July 2012

Arctic Omelette

For the last few weeks we’ve been seeing many baby birds, as the breeding season comes to ‘fruition’. It brings with it certain dangers for humans, mainly in the form of very ‘protective’ seagulls which ‘bomb’ you if you get too close to their chicks, especially if they are on the ground. After a while you learn to distinguish their warning calls and to keep a look out for and avoid their babies.

A favourite nesting site for the gulls seems to be on top of street lights. During the arctic summer it’s probably a very good choice, but last week the sun set for the first time and the street lights started to come back on, so the unfortunate pair pictured below, nesting very late in the season,  are probably trying to hatch a cooked egg, as the lights get very hot when they come on!

Graduation Pictures

Now that Sarah has returned with the camera, here are some pictures from Hannah’s graduation:

Great Reports

This week we’ve had some celebrations.

First, an update on last Sunday, when Sarah played her first service in Finnsnes as Kantor. I was playing in another parish, so I wasn’t around to hear her, but I did get back in time for coffee after church and everyone was very eager to tell me how well she had done, especially with the timing of the liturgical music, of which there is more here than is usual in either the Anglican or Episcopal church.

Then there is Hannah’s graduation. It really doesn’t seem so long ago that we were taking here to nursery on the back of our old tricycle, but this year she has finished her BA at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), and Sarah traveled back to England to be with her for the graduation ceremony. She got a very good 2.1 (only missing a 1st by 1 mark), and is already in demand from several theatre companies. Paul McCartney was on hand to congratulate her! In a sense this completes a 20ish year chapter, as I was involved as a consultant in some of the building work and then wrote the initial sound engineering course (although I still haven’t met ‘Sir Paul’).






And finally, today Susanna made her organ debut at an event we titled Være i stillheten (to be in peace). It was a bit like the Midday Musical Moments services we held at Prince George, but using Evening Prayer. It lasted an hour including about 40 minutes of ‘live’ piano and organ music, accompanied by images and video:

  • Moonlight Sonata (1st mvt) – Beethoven
  • Pavane – Faure
  • Pathetique Sonata (2nd mvt) – Beethoven
  • Schmücke dich (chorale prelude) – Bach
  • Engima Variations (selection) – Elgar

Susanna joined me as we played ‘Nimrod’ from the Enigma Variations to close the evening. She did really we – all the right notes, including the pedals – not bad after only a week ‘on the bench’! Again, everyone was very impressed – another organist in the family. Most people here have never experienced live music with video in worship and they really seemed to enjoy it, so hopefully there will be more opportunities for creativity. We also had the piano tuned today and it no longer sound like the worlds most expensive pub piano, so if the tuning holds, I will re-record the music and upload it with the videos to YouTube.


Out Of The Box – CD Finally Launched!

Not long before I moved to Norway, the contemporary music group at Prince George recorded an album of new songs. It took longer to finish than anticipated, but now it is finally released!

For anyone that has not visited Prince George, the title (in part) refers to the ‘boxes’ in which the congregation fit, and into which the band is squeezed. The boxed are numbered (the cover image is the door to number 2 – the band box) and were originally sold or rented to parishioners as a way of funding the church. Inevitably the wood work has acquired many ‘carvings’, courtesy of generations of young people – hence the font.

Full information can be found on the Prince George website and background information about the songs is here. The following is taken from the website, including details of how to get a copy!


Link to a PDF of the CD cover for 'Out Of The Box'An Album of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs

Out of the Box is a collection of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs written by Jon Blamire at Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church, and recorded by the worship group in 2012.

  • Download from  iTunes
  • CDs are available from the parish office for $10.
  • Sheet music can be downloaded free of charge in PDF format using the links below
  • CD booklet in PDF format can be downloaded here
  • Song lyrics and background information is here

Track list

Track Title Listen Score
1. King of Kings Sample PDF
2. Praise God in His sanctuary Sample PDF
3. Psalm 130 Sample PDF
4. Teach us Your way Sample PDF
5. Wash me Sample PDF
6. I trust in You alone Sample PDF
7. Rejoice in the Lord Sample PDF
8. Father, while I’m waiting Sample PDF
9. Come Holy Ghost (Veni Creator Spiritus) Sample PDF
10. Face down Sample PDF
11 Create in me a clean heart Sample PDF
12 Come Holy Spirit, make my heart Your own Sample PDF
13. Christ stretched out His arms Sample PDF
14. Amazing love, amazing grace Sample PDF
15 Take my life and let it be Sample PDF
16. Shout it from the rooftops Sample PDF

Looking out of the box


Prince George has a strong tradition of preaching from the Lectionary (a three year cycle of Bible readings). This creates a unique challenge for music directors to find appropriate music which fits the liturgical season, the readings and is appropriate to the congregation. For me, it led, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, to writing quite a lot of music.

The songs on this album are selected from over 80, and I pray that they will be a blessing to you, and find a wider application than the services for which they were originally written. The lyrics are a mixture of Bible texts and paraphrases, commentary on the Bible texts and existing lyrics. All the music is original. Thank you Andy Morgan & thank you band for your input!

I’m deeply indebted to the vestry, staff and congregation at Prince George for giving me the opportunity to develop this aspect of my ministry.

For Paul and Becky.
Without you and your love of worship, none of this would have been possible. Thank you!

Jon Blamire

About this recording

10 of the songs were recorded ‘live’ on a Saturday afternoon in February 2012, with the band squashed into our normal ‘box’ (hence the album title), using our new digital mixing desk (thanks to the ladies of the ECW). The other 6 are archive demo recordings from our regular Wednesday evening band practices, made using very basic ‘old technology’. Some vocals have been re-recorded in the studio (well in the music office!), and extra vocals and / or keyboards have been added to a few songs.

All songs are copyright of Jonathan Blamire and Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church, but are made available free of charge for use in worship. If you use the songs, we would love to know! If you want to record or publish them, please contact us for permission. All rights reserved.

Out Of The Box Musicians

John Stalvey – Guitar and Vocals
     – John you paved the way for contemporary worship at PG!

Duane Demello – Bass and Vocals
– What a musician!

Jeremy Vause – Keyboard / Vocals
– Georgetown’s own pop sensation!

Lauren Winslow – Vocals
– A solo at last.

Kitty Morgan – Flute / Vocals
–  The creative one.

Joey Pittman – Trumpet / Vocals – Trumpet lifts everything.

Susanna Blamire – Euphonium / Vocals
– The youngest member of  the team.

Troy Hight – Drums
– At just the right time . . .

Sarah Blamire – Piano / Vocals –
…… The other music director.

Jason Hamshaw – Vocals
– Your love for the Lord shines through your voice.

Jon Blamire – Bassoon / Whistle / Recorder / Keyboards / Bass / Vocals / Tambourine (!) 
– Just filling in.

In listing the musicians, I also want to honor those who have played with the band in the past, including Julie and David Oberst, Caroline Stalvey, Sally Lumpkin, Chelsea Hamshaw, Ruth Blamire, Drew Pittman, Pam Dickson  and the Gates family. Thank you all.

Recorded and mixed by Jon Blamire.

Mastered by Dave Aston at The Digital Audio Co.

The Smell Of Summer

The weather for the last couple of weeks has been rather disappointing – cold and quite a lot of rain. However, the flowers continue to bloom, and buddleja are everywhere, providing the ‘smell of summer’, with a beautiful fragrance, especially in the evenings. In England the buddleja is often called the butterfly bush and I had wondered whether we would therefore see butterflies this far north, and indeed we have – not the giant colourful tropical varieties, but delicate white.

For the observant who have correlated a drop off in posts with the arrival of Sarah and Susanna, it is partly the weather (not much to photograph) and partly an increase in busyness at work. We have had funerals, and weddings, and Sarah has begun as the other full time Kantor here in Lenvik (temporary until the end of the year) and playing her first full service tomorrow (a big occasion as it is the first anniversary of the  Oslo bombing and shootings in Utøya), whilst I will slip over the border to play in the next parish who currently have no musician. Then next week is Finnsnes i Fest (the town festival) for which I am playing at 2 events, so lots of practice and preparation are going on at the moment.

Half A Million Hits!

Today Youtube visits passed half a million!

By far the most viewed video is a version of This Little Light Of Mine, sung by the junior choir of Prince George for use in one of our Vacation Bible Schools. It accounts for over 400000 of the visits, so well done Junior Choir:

It has been viewed in at least 186 territories, the least well known of which (at least to me) is Kiribati, a small group of coral islands in the Pacific Ocean (Kitty: note they are Micronesian in origin, so this might help you introduce yourself if you every go). It has been used as part of weddings and funerals in several countries and I know from requests for copies that churches, Sunday Schools, vacation Bible schools and regular schools around the world have all used it in worship.

Taking all the videos together, there have been viewers in at least 192 countries. The only significant gap is for Cuba, and I suspect that state controls there may be either blocking us, or blocking the collection of data.

It continues to amaze me that a small church in one corner of the world can have a global ministry, but it is a privilege to be a part of blessing the wider church. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of making the videos.

Here are some ‘Top 10’ statistics:

Most Popular Videos


and the countries with the most viewers:

United States
United Kingdom
New Zealand
Hong Kong
South Korea

Sailing off into the sunset . . . .

Just after I moved into our new apartment, which is one of the few in Finnsnes without a sea view, I was mildly suprised to see a passing ship’s funnel. It turned out to be a large ‘tourist’ cruise liner  and it was tall enough to be visible between a couple of houses. So I walked down to the quay and got a picture (quality is not great as it was my phone rather than a proper camera).

It was rather attractive lit up with the midnight sun, although in reality it was sailing away from the sun rather then into it. Having been on a night journey during the light season, I think I would find it hard to sleep on a cruise – I would want to be up all day and night watching the scenery.

Midnight Glory

Last night Finnsnes was treated to a double rainbow – at midnight! I guess there are not many places in the world which can offer that, especially when it lasted well over half an hour. Then just as the rainbow was fading, the sky was lit up with the most amazing ‘sun-rise’ (even though the sun hadn’t set).

I know this is a bit of a cliche, but it really was another reminder of Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
     the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
     night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
     where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
     their words to the ends of the world.

And the other good news: Sarah and Susanna arrived back in Finnsnes today, albeit after some delayed flights.

View From The Top – Kisterfjell

Back in June I had a failed attempt at walking up Kisterfjell when I ran out of time, having planned to be there at midnight. This evening, along with a colleague from church, I made it to the top!

Kistefjell is (I think) the second highest peak in Lenvik Kommune, or at least on the mainland. There was  still some snow on the track which slowed progress a little, but the views when we got there were spectacular. Whilst the summit is at 1003m (about 3300 feet), from a distance the TV mast on the top makes it appear lower than it really is, because the master is 78m (about 255 feet). From sea level you assume that the mast is maybe 20 or 30 feet – it’s only when you have walked for 2 hours to get there and stand next to it you realise just how enormous it really is! Note the picture of the full tower, and then compare it with picture of Glenn stood at the bottom of it! Sadly it’s not possible to go up the tower for an even higher view.

From the summit you can see most of Norway’s second largest island, Senja (in the pictures the sun is above Senja) and beyond to the ocean. Looking the other way there are layers of mountains stretching inland at least 80km (50 miles) into the distance. Well worth the 18km (11 mile) walk.

Enjoy the pictures below, and also a 360 degree panorama from the summit.

A Fine Day For A Funeral

First of all, a quick update to let our praying friends know we are making progress. Thank you!

Today was the first of 3 funerals this week, but it was a beautiful drive to Lysbton Kappell on Senja. Carrying on the theme from yesterday, the roads and fields are lined with wild flowers. On the way back I stopped for some pictures. They are views from Senja, looking across the sea to the mainland.

There is also a panorama here.