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Dr Harry Grindle: Chorister revered as a master in the field of church music


Dr Harry Grindle, who has died aged 77, was a well-known composer, organist and choir-master who made an immense contribution to church music in Northern Ireland and further afield.

He was born in Bangor and educated at a local primary school and later at Regent House School in Newtownards.

At the age of seven he joined the choir of Bangor Abbey and became head chorister.

He later became the organist in Shore Street Presbyterian Church in Donaghadee and then Willowfield Parish Church in Belfast.

Harry Grindle read French at Queen's University and the University of Strasbourg and later taught in London, where he pursued his musical studies with some of the most outstanding musicians of the day.

On his return to Northern Ireland in 1962, he was appointed organist of Bangor Parish Church and two years later he became organist and master of the choristers at St Anne's in Belfast, where he made an immense contribution to the musical life of the cathedral.

In 1975, he became a senior lecturer in music at Stranmillis College and during this time he graduated with a First in Music from Trinity College, Dublin, as well as earning a Masters from Queen's and a PhD from Trinity.

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In 1986 he established the renowned Priory Singers and the choir gave many performances at home and overseas, including residencies at Hereford, Gloucester, Lincoln and Chichester cathedrals.

He was a noted composer and his hymn tune, Stranmillis, won a St Paul's Millennium competition and is currently included in the cathedral's hymnal. He was also the author of a definitive book on Irish cathedral music.

Dr Grindle was a deeply committed Christian and he received many honours, including an MBE, an associateship of the Royal School of Church Music and a Lambeth Doctorate in Music in 2005, which was awarded by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

He is survived by Heather, his wife for 45 years, by his daughters Hannah and Rachel and by his wider family and many friends.

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