James Edmonds came to London as a student in 2005 and came to All Souls Church having been recommended by his parents – former players of the All Souls Orchestra in 1970! James is not only an excellent Bass player and musician, he has also been a great advocate in helping us with our worship sets – trying them in his small band set up in Bristol. Here he tells us what it’s been like to play with All Souls Music and some of his favourite arrangements:
“I have been playing bass since I was 16, and I’ve been a regular in the Sunday bands at All Souls for over 13 years. I remember on my first Sunday being blown away by the quality of the music and singing – and I haven’t looked back since. There really isn’t anything like it. A Sunday service there can shake off the dust and cobwebs after a difficult week and leave you feeling re-energised, hopeful and with a sense of God’s presence. They are open to all sorts of music and new influences allowing the bass guitar to fit in alongside organ and classical instruments.
Noel and his team use the depth of what orchestral music can offer to help bring the words in worship songs alive. You can be singing a song you’ve sung over 100 times before, but when you set the words to really beautiful music you can find yourself thinking ‘whoa, this really means something, this is a big deal’. They are very clever in the way they use harmony and orchestration to achieve this.
Electric bass is quite a modern instrument- so there isn’t the same tradition of learning to sight-read and follow a conductor that there is for most classical instruments. I’ve had to adapt to move up from playing in Sunday bands, where you can survive on instinct and some basic reading ability, to playing in the Orchestra. I’ve worked hard on my reading for the last few years and that has led to me having a slightly unusual role for an electric bassist, playing the double bass parts in classical pieces and hymns . This helps boost the bass section when there are only a few double bass players as well as adding a slightly different sound. This is a unique opportunity and I love it! Of course, in the more contemporary arrangements I’m in my element – I particularly enjoy playing gospel and jazz. Only last Saturday with the Orchestra we were playing ‘Joyful Joyful’ from Sister Act!
All Souls Worship Sets
I’ve been commuting between Bristol and London for the last couple of years, and until recently I led the music at a small Sunday evening church. We had a small music group made up of keys, cello, oboe, classical guitar and some vocalists. This gave me a chance to try out quite a few of the All Souls worship sets available on the website. I strongly recommend them, they give you everything you could need; vocal harmony for your choir, instrumental parts, keyboard conductor scores and even chord sheets for your guitarists. They are challenging, but not overly so, so they give your group something to work at and then enjoy the results when everything comes together. No matter how small the group, good music brings people together and helps them to worship authentically. Plus, people are always impressed when a small church group pulls off some of the fun harmonies!
Personally, I love the hymns – ‘Jesus the Name High Over All’ or ‘Guide me O my great Redeemer’ – the arrangements really put a new spin on these classics and help them to feel ‘current’ rather than tired.”
To download your copies today just click on their titles or browse our worship sets here.
James is looking forward to playing bass at this years Prom Praise on the 5th of May 2018 at the Albert Hall! For tickets to this years Prom Praise with Tim Hughes and Lucy Grimble book here on the Royal Albert Hall website.