Blog March 15th Portsmouth Gospel Choir Perform for Her Majesty The Queen.

Portsmouth Gospel Choir perform for Her Majesty The Queen at Westminster Abbey

“The Season of Singing” featuring Lucy Jane Rutherford from the album “The Season of Singing” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

On Saturday March 3rd Mustard Seed Songs produced the Portsmouth Gospel Choir (PGC) in concert at Kings Church, Portsmouth and I hope this will soon be available for you to view on You Tube.

On Monday March 12th PGC performed for the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at the Royal Commonwealth Service in Westminster Abbey.

The choir also performed in front of the Prime Minister, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, High Commissioners, Ambassadors and Commonwealth dignitaries and around 800 school children.

The service was broadcast live on BBC One

Band Coordinator, Omolade Taiwo, aged 20, said: “We are really honoured. It’s amazing and surreal.

“It’s all God. We’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve this, we’re just a university gospel choir. Genuinely we sing, we have fun, put videos online and then we get an opportunity like this.”

When the group were told the news, they said there was ‘lots of screaming’ with choir members ‘falling to the floor’.

Last year the group were semi-finalists in BBC One’s Pitch Battle. They described the support from the University and local community as ‘incredible’ and said they ‘couldn’t have asked for anything more’.

As well as the Portsmouth Gospel Choir, there were performances from Ngāti Rānana, the London Māori Choir and Liam Payne.

The Portsmouth Gospel choir performed a stunning rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel and their performance was shared by the Royal Family on Twitter

About The Commonwealth Service 

The Commonwealth Service is the UK’s largest multi-faith celebration and takes place annually on the second Monday in March at Westminster Abbey. The one hour service features a mixture of testimonies, readings, and musical performances. Each year the Service is based around an annual Commonwealth Theme.

The Royal Commonwealth Society organises the Service on behalf of a group of Commonwealth organisations, known as the Council of Commonwealth Societies (CCS).

Commonwealth Day has been celebrated across the Commonwealth, every year since the 1970s. In recent years, there has been a shift away from celebrating a single day towards celebrating Commonwealth Week, with Commonwealth Day at its focus on the first day. The aim is to celebrate the unity, diversity and links of the modern Commonwealth and to foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and role, particularly among young people.

You can watch the performance of the Portsmouth Gospel Choir via this link from 58 mins 25 secs:


Quote for the week;

“Happiness is not getting what you want – it is enjoying what God has given you.”

The Word For Today

Blog March 8th “Precious”

“Precious” featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album “Precious” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

We have had a fantastic week with the Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education tour of Primary Schools going from strength to strength. Comments have included “Absolutely fabulous” “Wow I am speechless” and “Superb.”

We also had a wonderful Portsmouth Gospel Choir concert at the Kings Church, Portsmouth but more on both these events next blog as today would have been my mother’s birthday and I would like to share with you how she became a Christian – quite late on in life!

My mum, Audrey Lillian Shearsmith, had attended Chapel as young girl and I knew that she said her prayers without fail every single day. However in 1997 I still was not sure how she would react to me telling her that I had become a Christian.  I therefore showed her a little book from the Alpha course entitled “Who is Jesus?” and we had a short chat before she told me to leave it and that she would read it later.

When she was 102 years old and was living in the wonderful Chesterholm Lodge Care Home mum asked me what a Christian was and how you could became one.  I simply said that to become a Christian you ask God to forgive you for all the things you have done in your life that have displeased Him and to ask Jesus to come into your life. She then smiled her special smile and pointed to her bag and nodded for me to look in it. And there it was -the “Who is Jesus? book that I had given her five years before. I told her that there was a prayer in the book that she could say if you wished to become a Christian. Mum immediately read out the prayer aloud. I was sitting on the bed beside her overjoyed, but at the same time almost not believing what was happening, in fact so much so that I told her that just saying the prayer was not enough she had to really mean it; so she said it again, but this time with even more meaning in her voice!  I noticed, Mandy, one of her carers who worships at my church was outside mum’s room, so I went out to tell her the good news. “Halleluiah” Mandy cried out before telling me that she was not in the least bit surprised because mum had been talking about Christianity for some time. So mum became a Christian at the age of almost 103!

A few days before she died in August 2006 I was with her on my own. She looked at me with so much love, smiled that wonderful smile again and told me that I was precious.

The day after she said “precious” to me I was looking at Psalm 116 and the word “precious jumped out of the page. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” I read in the concordance that “precious” means, not only highly valued, but also carefully looked after – I can’t tell you how reassuring it was to know that in mum’s last days she was being carefully looked after by God. And she was; all those who were with her will testify to how much at peace she was. She was in no pain whatsoever and was as sharp as always. She left this life in a very gentle and serene way – there is no doubt that she was indeed being carefully looked after and watched over by God.

The day after reading Psalm 116 it was a Sunday and I sat at the back of Holy Rood church with no one on the one seat beside me. Beryl, a retired Curate, came in, which was a bit of a surprise because normally on a Sunday morning she worships at an associate church; coming to Holy Rood for the evening services. Although we are good friends I had not sat with Beryl before, but on that Sunday she asked if she could sit on that one free seat by my side. She knew that my mum was very unwell from the church notice sheet and when she asked me I told her that mum was, in fact dying.

At the end of the service Beryl told me that she had prayed for my mum and me and that during the service God had given her a picture. She had seen a beautiful meadow in which stood a rock- a rock that had been very “precious” to her friends and family. The rock was also “precious” to God. Beryl saw the earth around the rock become disturbed and God taking this “precious” rock up to heaven to be with Him.

Mum died the very next day.

Quote for the week:

He loves you as you are but too much to let you stay as you are.

Every Day With Jesus

Blog March Risen! The Musical Theatre has begun!

“Ready to go  before the first ever appearance of Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education”

The first Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education performance took place at St Faiths Church of England School, Winchester on Monday of this week. The performance was followed by the 5 actors delivering workshops on musical theatre. We got some great feedback such as this comment from the Head teacher:

The whole set up was very professional. The actors and crew prepared everything for the performance and kept to their timings. They were all very enthusiastic and presented the musical with great confidence. The children and staff thoroughly enjoyed the performance and they were keen to join in at appropriate times. It was an uplifting performance of the Easter story and put things in context for the children. It was a great way to tell the Easter story.

The workshops were very well run by the five actors. They were encouraging and kept things going at a good pace. The children really enjoyed being taught by actors and rose to the challenge of presenting a short performance with singing and dancing at the end of their workshop. We will be using the two performances in our Easter Service. Thank you for a great experience!

One of the children summed it all by saying “ I loved it!”

The next day we were in another Winchester Primary School – Western and performed for 300 children- it was again a great success (see video clip.) Yesterday we were in Gosport – in Brune Park Secondary School in the morning and Bay House Secondary in the afternoon playing to a combined audience of 750 from Year 7. We were a bit weary of performing to older children but again both performances went down a storm. It is such a shame that today’s performance at The Kings School Fair Oak has had to be postponed because the school, like many others, is closed because of the forecast heavy snow. We hope we can somehow re-arrange this visit but we are fully booked all the way up to the end of the tour on March 16th.

Of course Mustard Seed Songs are also organising the Portsmouth Gospel Choir concert at Kings Church on Saturday, March 3rd – that is going to be really great. You can get tickets from Special guests include the London Touring Cast who will be performing extracts from Risen!

Quote for the week

“Don’t call if failure, call it education. Now I know what does not work!

Thomas Edison


Blog February 22nd Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education- rehearsals

The London Touring Cast rehearsing (and chilling)

Risen! from the album Risen! The Musical featuring the Original Cast recorded and produced by Joffy Girling

Well it is a short blog this week as we are in the middle of rehearsals for the forthcoming tour of Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education tour of 17 schools in Hampshire and West Sussex. The fabulous London Touring Cast have been hard at work rehearsing in a country location near Chichester. Joffy our Musical Director and Adam our Technical Director were with them today setting up tech equipment that includes brand new face mics, lighting, PA system and backing tracks. Meanwhile Darren is up in Coventry putting the finishing touches to the stage set and that is one reason why this blog is a tad short – I have to leave at 5.00 am in the morning to pick it up!

Of those 17 schools 15 are Primary but the other 2 make up the largest Secondary school combo in the country – Bay House and Brune Park.

While this is happening interest is also mounting for the Portsmouth Gospel Choir concert at Kings Church on Saturday, March 3rd – you can get tickets from Special guest include the London Touring Cast who will be performing extracts from Risen!

Quote for the week

Humility is not thinking less of yourself – it is thinking of yourself less


Blog February 15th – The Portsmouth Gospel Choir In Concert Part 4

The Portsmouth Gospel Choir (University of Portsmouth) has been granted the honour of performing for Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family on March 12th, “Commonwealth Day” at Westminster Abbey. Now it is unlikely that you have been invited to attend this service, however if you visit you will be able to purchase tickets to see the Portsmouth Gospel Choir on Saturday, March 3rd at Kings Church, Portsmouth. Special guests of the Portsmouth Gospel Choir are C.J. Edwards from “The Voice” (now known as Chelange) and members of the cast of Risen! The Musical.

The cast of Risen! The Musical arrive this week at their accommodation in West Sussex ready for a week of rehearsals. Then beginning Monday, February 26th they embark on a three week tour of schools delivering the Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education production and also musical theatre workshops. The Theatre in Education cast will be joined by two more cast members from the original Show to sing extracts from Risen! at the March 3rd concert.

Chelange (formally known as C. J Edwards) featured in TVs” The Voice” – As you can see from today’s clip he is perfect to guest for the Portsmouth Gospel Choir. I have it on very good authority that “The Way You Make Me Feel” will be one of the songs he sings.

I visited Kings Church this week with Heavilyn from the Gospel Choir and Adam, our Technical Director. Adam is bringing in additional sound and lighting – you can be assured that March 3rd is going to be a fantastic night!

And to finish with a quote from my journal:

The secret of life is not what happens to you but what you do with what happens to you.

Blog February 8th – The Portsmouth Gospel Choir In Concert Part 3

The fantastic Portsmouth Gospel Choir in another clip from the finals of BBC’s “Pitch Battle”. Credit BBC


So this week’s blog has three parts 1) Promotion 2) Update on Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education 3) Quotation

  • Promotion -:

Please visit for tickets and details of what will be a great night on March 3rd at Kings Church, Portsmouth with the Portsmouth Gospel Choir in concert (see featured pic and video) With special guests C.J. Edwards from “The Voice” and members of the cast of Risen! The Musical.


  • Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education

I am so very pleased to tell you that the Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education tour -February 26th to March 16th is now fully booked. Our six actors will spend one full day in the following schools: St Faiths Primary, Winchester, Western Primary, Winchester, Brune Park Secondary, Gosport, The Kings School, Fair Oak, Lessland Junior, Gosport,Wickham Primary, Wickham, Arreton Primary Isle of Wight, Andrews Primary, Alton, St Marks Primary, Southampton, Bransgore Primary New Forest, St John the Baptist, Waltham Chase, Bartley Primary, New Forest, St James Primary, Emsworth, Central Academy, Chichester and St Georges Beneficial, Portsmouth. We also hope to be in Bay House Secondary School, Gosport.

The Risen! The Musical cast is : Max Panks playing Jesus. Caroline Wethefelt playing Mary Magdalene, Katie Rogers playing Joanna, Rebecca Davis understudy to Joanna, Andrew Dovaston playing John and Cleopas and Mikey Wooster playing Peter, Thomas, Cleopas’ friend and Judas.


  • Quotation:

On the 11th November 2000 my dear friend Roberta Cousins, who is a missionary in Uganda, gave me a journal in which to make notes. In the forthcoming weeks I will share some of the quotes that I committed to the journal.


People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care


Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt

Blog February 1st – The Portsmouth Gospel Choir In Concert Part 2

So this week’s blog has three parts 1) Promotion 2) Humour 3) Quotation

  • Promotion -:

Please visit for tickets and details of what will be a great night with the Portsmouth Gospel Choir in concert (see featured pic and video) With special guests C.J. Edwards from “The Voice” and members of the cast of Risen! The Musical.


  • Humour:

Have you noticed how fairly ordinary terms are now being “jazzed up” into things humorously pretentious? Yesterday I laughed when told that the receptionist at my doctor’s surgery was now a “care navigator.” However my favourite is “water transfer solutions” which is a hosepipe manufacturer!


  • Quotation from Theodor Roosevelt:


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stubbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.

Blog January 25th – The Portsmouth Gospel Choir In Concert

“Father Let Your Spirit Fall Upon Me” featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album ” I Look Up To The Heavens” recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson

I trust that this week’s blog is self -explanatory – All at Mustard Seed Songs do hope you can make Saturday, March 3rd at Kings Church, Somers Road, Portsmouth. The concert is going to be amazing – all the tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite (by clicking here). There is only one performance and with the Portsmouth Gospel Choir having been on BBC 1s “Pitch Battle” C.J. Edwards on ITV’s “The Voice” and the cast of Risen! The Musical on Revelation TV we are confident that the evening is going to be a “sell out.” See you there!

Blog January 18th “Fresh Off The Press”

Building the Risen Christ Central Chapel in Cross River State Nigeria begins!

“How Great Are His Signs” EP featuring the Portsmouth Gospel Choir

“Lean on Me” ( Bill Withers) featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album “Heart and Soul” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

So this early in the year Mustard Seed Songs are already involved in a number of exciting ventures

  • 1) Writing the sequel to Risen! The Musical which has a working title of ACTS – the guide vocals are nearly finished so watch this space!
  • 2) Building has started of the Risen Christ Central Chapel in Cross River State, Nigeria (see featured pics) We are still need donations if the work is to be completed so if you would like to help please visit
  • 3) Our CD “How Great Are His Signs” featuring the amazing “Portsmouth Gospel Choir” is now available to purchase at £5.00 from Proceeds again going to building the Risen Christ Central Chapel.
  • 4) “Fresh off the press” -we have a confirmed date for the Portsmouth University Choir to be in concert – Saturday March 3rd at The Kings Church, Somers Road Portsmouth. More details next week but special guests will be C. J Edwards who featured in “The Voice” and members of the “London Touring Cast” from “Risen! The Musical.“
  • 5) Members of the “London Touring Cast” are available for the Gospel Choir Concert because they will be in Hampshire and West Sussex touring 15 Primary schools from February 26th – March 16th with our Risen! The Musical “Theatre in Education” project. We still have five free dates so please contact me on if you know of a school that would be interested in booking our one hour version of Risen! written especially for 7- 11 year olds. As part of a day long visit to schools the” London Touring Cast” will also deliver musical theatre workshops i.e. singing, acting and dance. We have applied to numerous charitable trusts for funding, one being the “Grant Foundation” which is linked to the toy shop “The Entertainer.” You may know that the owner, Mr Gary Grant is a strong Christian, which is why “The Entertainer “ does not open on a Sunday and war type games are not sold. We are particularly hopeful that Mr Grant will support us as one of the Risen! cast, when not acting, works in the Hartlepool branch of “The Entertainer. “ His name is Andrew and he has been granted one month’s unpaid leave in order to play the part of the disciple John. We are hoping that this might just be the sort of thing that is needed to motivate Mr Grant into helping us.


I should be able to let you know more next week.

Blog January 11th “Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?”

“He’s Never Lied” featuring Lucy Rutherford, Jim Rogers and Mike Backhouse from the album “The Season of Singing” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

Back in August 2015 I began a series of posts that centred on my correspondence with an ex -Crofton school student named Alan. Alan is a confirmed atheist and I am a confirmed believer in God. It was very interesting for us both to exchange views but neither of us changed our beliefs.

In a series of posts beginning September 21st 2017 I talked about the Alpha course. At this time I sent Alan a link to an Alpha video clip asking him what he thought-

He replied in detail citing Richard Carrier, the American historian and atheist activist. Alan said

There is an awful lot of confirmation bias going on in this video. Fallacious arguments like because billions believe in it, it must be true (mentioned at least twice). This is the ‘appeal to popularity’ fallacy. They mean well but their idea of evidence is very far removed from what reliable proper historical evidence looks like. It is essentially faith based with a dollop of wishful thinking thrown in. Which is fine! But faith should be recognized for what it actually is… belief in something in the absence of evidence.


Also of course falling foul of confirmation bias yet I submit far more based in real evidence…


As you may gather Alan is a very intelligent man who runs a successful business and who is a student of Psychology .


So I started watching the video but gave up when Carrier said that Moses and Abraham were also mythical characters. However I noticed another video which was posted on, what I imagine to be an atheist forum. The video was a debate between Carrier and William Lane Craig on the subject “Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?” Even though it had been posted in an atheist forum I felt that the debate was fairly presented and worth sharing with you:


An extract from my reply to Alan is below:


At the moment I am soaked in Christian culture and you, I suggest atheist culture  – so you and I will naturally be  influenced by the belief systems of the two  cultures in which we move.  Unless something happens for me to lose my faith in God or something happens for you to gain faith in God all the arguments in the world are not going to change the way we feel.  You and I, William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier etc will have to wait until we die to discover the truth- but I suppose if there is no God even at death we will not discover the truth as we will not exist and so be in a position to know anything.  I would guess that not existing is not a concern for you, but it is for me Alan.   To think that life completely stops when our hearts stop seems to me to be very sad-and does it really matter what we do with our lives if at the end of 3 score years and 10, or a bit more or less that’s it?  Maybe I am using Christianity as an insurance policy as I like the idea of eternal life which Jesus promised. Of course if Jesus is just a mythical figure then I have been conned – but I have to say that if that is the case then I have rather enjoyed being conned. I just can’t see any advantage of being an atheist- where would be my hope ?  I know some would say that false hope in the supernatural denies the terminal nature of man and is therefore a bad thing but I still cannot see why Carrier and co spend so much energy for a cause that appears to offer so very little.

One person offers me a gift of special worth, albeit one not necessarily guaranteed. Another person offers me information- a personal opinion based not on the truth but on what they perceive as truth – which says that the gift I have been offered is a lie – a myth. Will I still accept the gift of special worth – you bet I will!