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wmf 2012
The dates for the annual Wimbledon festival were chosen to embrace St Cecilia's Day on November 22nd, a day on which music and the arts are traditionally celebrated.


Saint Cecilia  




This year the Festival is supporting two projects in Merton Schools in association with Merton Music Foundation.

'Petrushka, The Project'
Monday 12 November - 4.00pm
St Mark's Church, Compton Road, SW19

120 children from Merton Abbey and Abbotsbury primary schools will perform their own music and drama pieces inspired by Stravinsky's ballet music 'Petrushka'. The performance at St Mark's is the culmination of a creative arts project delivered by arts professionals from Merton Music Foundation. The children aged 8 - 11 years have used music, drama, dance and art to explore the characters from the story, sharing ideas and developing new skills, experience and understanding of the creative compositional process.

'The Journey'
Thursday 22 November - 7.00pm
St. Paul's, Augustus Road, SW19 6EW
Tickets from ATG 0844 871 7685, or on the door

Our St Cecilia's Day event this year has150 young singers from Merton secondary schools will perform Pete Churchill's inspiring and innovative 'groove' cantata 'The Journey'. Written as a special commission for Merton Music Foundation, the piece explores the history of immigration to the UK going back 1,000 years and weaves together common themes that face all those who have to uproot and 'journey on' to meet new challenges and build new lives. The piece is scored for mass choir, chamber choir, jazz orchestra and an eclectic mix of folk instruments. World- renownedmusician and educator Pete Churchill will direct soloists Gary Palmerand Guillermo Rozenthuler, with support from the dynamic London VocalProject and the mass choir. Also performing will be students from Merton Music Foundation and the Royal Academy of Music.


SAINT CECILIA, so often glorified in the fine arts, in poetry, and especially in music, is one of the most venerated martyrs of Christian antiquity. The oldest historical account of St. Cecilia is found in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum; from this it is evident that her feast was celebrated in the Roman Church in the fourth century.

Texts of the time tell us that Cecilia, a virgin of a senatorial family and a Christian from her infancy, was given in marriage by her parents to a noble pagan youth Valerianus, and that while the musicians played at her nuptials she sang in her heart to God only. When, after the celebration of the marriage, the couple had retired to the wedding-chamber, Cecilia told Valerianus that she was betrothed to an angel who jealously guarded her body; therefore Valerianus must take care not to violate her virginity.

In his frustration Valerianus demanded to see the angel, whereupon Cecilia sent him to the third milestone on the Via Appia where he should meet Bishop (Pope) Urbanus. Valerianus obeyed, was baptized by the pope, and returned a Christian to Cecilia. An angel then appeared to the two and crowned them with roses and lilies. When Tiburtius, the brother of Valerianus, came to them, he too was won over to Christianity.
As "zealous children of the Faith" both brothers distributed rich alms and buried the bodies of the confessors who had died for Christ, so incurring the wrath of the prefect, Turcius Almachius, who condemned them to death. An officer of the prefect, Maximus, appointed to execute this sentence, was himself converted and suffered martyrdom with the two brothers.

Cecilia buried their remains together in one tomb, for which she herself was sought by the officers of the prefect. Before she was taken prisoner, she arranged that her house should be preserved as a place of worship for the Roman Church. After a glorious profession of faith, she was condemned to be put to death by steam in the bath of her own house. Singing all the while to God, surviving this ordeal by steam, the prefect now ordered her to be decapitated in that place. The executioner struck her with his sword three times without separating the head from the trunk, and fled, leaving the virgin bathed in her own blood. She lived three days, singing to God, made dispositions in favour of the poor, and provided that after her death her house should be dedicated as a church (now the Church in Trastevere). Urbanus buried her among the bishops and the confessors in the Catacomb of Callistus.

"In this shape the whole story has no historical value" (Catholic Encyclopaedia);

"it is a pious romance, like so many others compiled in the fifth and sixth century."

St. Cecilia by Raphael
Medieval pictures of the saint are very frequent; since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries she is given the organ as an attribute, or is represented as playing on the organ, evidently to express what was often attributed to her in panegyrics and poems based on the Acts of the Martyrs, viz., (cantantibus organis illa in corde suo soi domino decantabat); possibly the cantantibus organis was erroneously interpreted of Cecilia herself as the organist. In this way the saint was brought into closer relation with music. When the Academy of Music was founded at Rome (1584) she was made patroness of the institute, whereupon her veneration as patroness of church music in general became still more universal; today Cecilian societies exist everywhere. The organ is now her ordinary attribute; with it Cecilia was represented in a famous picture by Raphael.

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