The Reverend Foster

William Roy Foster was appointed to All Saints’ in May 1923 as Deacon at a stipend of £230 p.a. – he would earn £250 p.a. as Priest. 

His arrival was welcomed universally. Not only was the burden on the Vicar eased, but the musical talents of the Reverend Foster- formerly a Choral Scholar at S. John’s College, Cambridge –  prompted an immediate separation of the posts of Organist and Choirmaster – Reverend Foster taking charge of the latter and Charles Salmon taking the post of organist on a six-month trial. Great strides were made with the music and choir under this combination so much so that, on Sunday, July 26th.1925, they were able to hold an All Saints’ Choir Festival. It was an occasion for excellence. Special hymns were chosen to represent some of the best periods of Church music, and the anthem “Heavens are Telling” from Haydn’s ‘Creation’ was sung. The Wimbledon News reported that “a noticeable feature of the singing was the sweet mellow tone of the boys voices,” and added that “we understand that there are a few vacancies in the choir of All Saints’ for competent tenors and altos.” More concerts followed and the choir continued to grow in excellence:- “This choir,” said the Borough News, “is steadily achieving its ambition to perform only what is worthy of the best traditions in Church music.”   It was an accolade that the Reverend Foster must have accepted with delight– “bad art, bad music and bad hymns, as the expression of our worship, must be done away with,” he said, “for they did not give us a true portrait of God.”

Reverend Foster also encouraged Toc. H to take up work amongst the lads of the parish and became ‘Padre’ of the Torch Club who often held concerts in the Mission Hall to raise money. The overall success of the club was celebrated at a special evening service at All Saints’ in July 1926, which also included a “ceremony of light,” in memory of the ‘elder brethren’ who made the great sacrifice in the war. In his address, Roy Foster  preached on the kind of world into which Jesus came. He said that, into the darkness of that world the incarnation came as the “splendid dawn of day, a blaze of the most glorious and joyous light.” He told how Jesus, the elder brother, first lit the lamp of unselfish service and self sacrifice, the flame of which, sometimes flickering, sometimes blazing in the hearts of men, had been passed down throughout the ages to us. We should, he said, “be stirred up to lighten the load of everyone’s ills and help build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.” They sang special Toc H hymns, read special Toc H prayers, and concluded the service with the Benediction, preceded by Psalm 150, sung to the setting by Stanford.

When he left in 1927 to become Priest-Vicar of Southwark Cathedral over two hundred members of the congregation attended a farewell social held in his honour. Reverend Torrance expressed his great appreciation of the work that he had done in the parish and singled out his efforts with the training of the choir and also in regard to the spiritual welfare that he had brought to the younger members of the congregation.  The press added its own tribute:-“By sheer force of personality,” wrote the Borough News, “Mr. Foster has endeared himself to all with whom he is associated.” A beautiful sacred picture was presented to him by Mr. Judd on behalf of the choir and organist, whose performance on his final Sunday in the parish constituted a “wonderful musical feast.”  In his farewell sermon, Reverend Foster spoke on the joys of the priesthood, describing it as the happiest possible existence for a man, always provided that he had an aptitude for that calling, not only as a servant of God, but also in doing service to his fellow human beings.

After serving as Priest-Vicar of Southwark Cathedral for one year he became Succentor until 1935. He then became curate of All Saints’, Margaret Street and Head of their choir school until 1950. From 1950-1965 he was Vicar of S. Augustine’s, Queens Gate, Kensington.  Magazines and minute books from this time record changes in worship following the Roman reform of the Easter Liturgy, and the introduction of the changes in the fasting rules prior to communion.

Whilst at All Saints’ Roy Foster gave the parish the epithet of the “Cinderella Parish” – it is still that today

%d bloggers like this: