West gallery music evolved from efforts to improve psalm singing in parish churches around the end of the seventeenth century. The musicians kept part singers in pitch, and members of the 'quire' clustered round the instrument that played their part as in these illustrations. Although musicians were members of the congregation who made their living by other occupations they often not only played but wrote music. Some of their compositions would not have been out of place in a cathedral or college church. Others were foot-tapping singalongs. Here are The Marsh Warblers with Hail Smiling Morn.
The term 'west gallery music' comes from the galleries that parish churches built at the west end of the nave to accommodate the quire and its musicians. The gallery at St Andrew's no longer exists; the one below is from St Thomas's at Foxley in Norfolk.
- The Friends of St Andrew's, St Andrew's Church Bere Ferrers. A short history and guide, 2nd ed 1996
- West Gallery Music Association wesbsite http://www.wgma.org.uk/index.htm accessed 14 July 2013
- Exeter, West Devon Record Office, Bere Ferrers church rates 1237A/PW56A