THE director of music at St Mary’s Church in Henley has left for America.
Jonathan White, 31, held the role for three years and was previously a music tutor at Oxford University. He will begin a two-year masters’ degree in theology and sacred music at Yale University later this month and hopes to become a priest.
At his final church service, Dr White was surprised by the St Mary’s choir with a medley of American music, including Home On The Range, Battle Hymn Of The Republic, Shenando, American Pie, My Lord What A Morning, God Bless America and I’ll Always Be In England. They also sang The Whiffenpoof Song, which is associated with an a capella group from Yale.
Dr White, from Oxford, also had dinner with the choir and parishioners at the Chantry House in Hart Street. His leaving gifts included a cotta, a type of clerical dress, from the church and Henley Royal Regatta gold cufflinks and a book of photographs of the Thames from the choir.
He said: “The church seems to know how to send people off in a good way. I have mixed emotions. I’m sad to go but I’m also looking forward to new challenges.”
Liz Brent, who arranged the music for the medley, said: “It was a lovely send-off.”