choir and organ

Assistant Organist - Information for Applicants

St. Helen's Church, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, is seeking to appoint an Assistant Organist to support the Director of Music in leading and developing the musical life of this large town-centre church. We have a committed and enthusiastic robed choir of children and adults which rehearses weekly and is affiliated to the RSCM. The organ is a fine three-manual Harrison and Harrison instrument, which was completely restored in 2005. Sunday services include a weekly Sung Eucharist, a monthly Choral Evensong, and a variety of other morning and evening services.

 To start 1st March 2019     closing date for applications, Monday 17th December 2018

Applications to the Parish Administrator:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   tel: 01235 520144

Full details below, or download as pdf here


Duties and terms of the post

The main duties will be: 

  • To play the organ on an agreed schedule of Sunday morning and evening services (to be arranged on a rota basis, but generally amounting to about 2-3 morning and 2-3 evening services per month), averaging 4 hours per week;
  • To play the organ at additional special services according to the church's calendar (e.g. Christmas, Easter, and other festivals);
  • To assist the Director of Music in overseeing all liturgical music in the church;
  • To deputise for the DoM in his/her absence;
  • To contribute to planning music for services, including attending meetings with the DoM, and at times the clergy and/or DCC;
  • From time to time, to play the organ at weddings or funerals (for additional fees);
  • To attend and accompany weekly choir practices (currently on Fridays from 5.30 – 7.00 pm), and assist with the administration of the choir;
  • To perform other duties as agreed with the DoM from time to time.

For a suitably qualified and experienced appointee, there could be opportunities to conduct the choir, and to lead other elements of rehearsals (e.g. teaching parts of the Voice for Life course).

The church is seeking a person who can bring energy, enthusiasm and ideas to the development of its music ministry, and the exact duties of the post can be adjusted to take account of the skills and interests of the appointee, and of his/her needs and aspirations in terms of career development.

The Assistant Organist will report to the Director of Music. Salary will be based on RSCM scales, and up to £3000 p.a. depending on qualifications and experience, with the possibility of some additional fees e.g. for weddings and funerals.  The appointment is subject to an enhanced DBS check.


Assistant Organist - Person Specification

As an organization seeking to encourage and receive the best from its members of staff, and as a Christian community, St Helen’s is looking for a Director of Music with the following characteristics:

Qualifications, Knowledge and Experience:

  • Holds qualifications in organ playing equivalent at least to Grade 8 standard, and preferably holds or is working towards RCO or similar diplomas;
  • Is competent in the performance of a varied organ repertoire;
  • Is a fluent organ sight-reader;
  • Has experience of accompanying choirs;
  • Is familiar with the common types of sung liturgical music (including hymns, chanted psalms – both 'Anglican' and responsorial – and anthems) and can accompany them sensitively;

Communicating and influencing

  • Is able to communicate reliably and clearly ;
  • Is able to relate comfortably to other musicians (both adults and children), clergy and congregation;
  • Is well organised and efficient;
  • Is comfortable both in the role of assistant, and when necessary also of leader;

Planning and organising

  • Is willing to work cooperatively and supportively with the Director of Music and the clergy in developing the musical life of the choir and congregation;

Relationship to the Church of England

  • Possesses and models an engaged demeanour during the conduct of Anglican worship;
  • Is able to think creatively about the integration of music with the liturgy (chiefly, but not exclusively, the Eucharist);
  • Is willing to work effectively with agreed congregational and parish-wide protocols (e.g. safe-guarding, grievance, disciplinary).


Application process

Please send a letter of application and CV to Dr Peter Foster, Director of Music, The Church Office, St. Helen's Court, Abingdon OX14 5BS, or email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The closing date for applications is Monday 17th December at 9.00 am. We plan to hold interviews and auditions on Thursday January 3rd 2019. It would be helpful if you could indicate in your application whether you are available on this date; alternative arrangements could be made if necessary.

At the audition, candidates will be asked to play two contrasting organ pieces, to play a hymn, and to sight read the accompaniment to an anthem. Shortlisted candidates will be sent a specification of the organ in advance of their interview.


These details can be downloaded as a pdf here.