Dr Robert James Ashfield, FRCO, Hon. FGCM

28th July 1911 – 30th December 2006

Organist and Master of the Choristers, Rochester Cathedral 1956 - 1977

It is with great sadness that we record the death of our President Emeritus Dr Robert Ashfield, aged 95, and we take this opportunity of offering our sincere condolences to Mary his wife, and family. The funeral service was held in the Quire of Rochester Cathedral on 15th January. Members of the KCOA, including our President, Secretary, and Treasurer were in the large congregation.

The service was a very moving and dignified tribute to Dr Ashfield, with music aptly chosen for the occasion. Before the service, Dan Soper, the Assistant Organist, played:

Prière à Notre-Dame Léon Boëllmann

Elegy George Thalben-Ball

Master Tallis’s Testament Herbert Howells

Passacaglia and Touch her Soft lips and part (Henry V) William Walton

As the procession entered, the choir, under the direction of Roger Sayer, sang:

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts Purcell, and There is a Stream – Ashfield. The hymns were:

The King of love my Shepherd is

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy

Angel voices ever singing

Psalm 107 vv1-22 & 43 was sung to a very dramatic set of chants by Dr Ashfield, and the anthem was the beautiful Expectans expectavi by Charles Wood.

The First Reading was from Revelation 21 vv1-7, and the Second was read by Dr Ashfield’s daughter Sally. It was the passage from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress referring to Mr Valiant-for-Truth, which ends with the words So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

Barry Ferguson, Organist and Master of the Choristers at Rochester 1977-1994, in his address spoke eloquently of Dr Ashfield’s long life and character and his many achievements, and as the procession left, the choir sang Nunc Dimittis (Collegium Regale Service) Herbert Howells. The closing voluntary was Fugue in E flat (St Anne) - J.S. Bach.

A Memorial Service will be held at a later date, when Dr Ashfield’s cremated remains will be interred in the Cathedral Garden of Remembrance, and a tribute to him will appear in our August Journal.

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