The church was destined to become a centre of great music, when on Advent Sunday 1871 a young organist took his first service. Mr. Edward Brown, soon to become a Doctor of music and to stay at St. James as organist and choirmaster for 59 years until 30 December 1930.
It was during the Doctor's time that St. James became noted for its magnificent choral services and great oratorios (Crucifixion - Elijah - Zadok the Priest and of course the Messiah).
Not only did he work diligently with his choir (men and boys only in those days) but assisted many of the local amateur operatic societies in Ulverston, Dalton and Millom. Many other local church choirs were also indebted to this fine musician who now has a permanent memorial to his work - the great organ he so loved was restored in 1948 after 7 years of safekeeping and was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Brown. The music library of St. James also points to the great musical past of the church - this too was mainly collected by Dr. Brown.
The strong musical tradition is enthusiastically upheld by the present mixed voice choir. They enjoy singing music from the traditional Anglican repertoire. As well as hymns, this includes a regular diet of Anthems and Choral settings. The main Sunday service is a "Sung Eucharist" in which the choir play an integral part. Evensong is sung every week, but on the first Sunday of each month the Choir sing a service of Choral Evensong at which the canticles are often sung to traditional settings by the likes of Stanford, Ousley, Dykes etc and the Psalms are sung to Anglican Chant. Few churches still sing evensong and so we often welcome visitors from outside Barrow who come for these services, either to augment the choir or to join the congregation.
The Choir occasionally sing Evensong in our Cathedral in Carlisle and are in frequent demand to sing at Weddings and other events in the town.
The Choir rehearse from 6.30pm on Thursday evenings and new members are welcome.