PRAYERS were said at York Minster today for composer, former Minster School head master and Lay Canon Richard Shephard, after he died yesterday, aged 71.

Dr Shephard, who was made an MBE in 2012 for services to music and education, was a distinguished and internationally renowned composer of Church Music, said Canon Pastor, The Revd Michael Smith,during a Zoom service.

"He worked for the York Minster Fund and helped to raise well over £10,000,000 for the Great East Window amongst much else," he said.

"He has sung in the choir and was Chamberlain for many years, helping to lead Choral Evensong each day. In recent years he has been a member of Chapter.

"We will miss him. We surround him with our love and prayers today and give thanks for his creativity, loyalty, friendship, humour and humanity."

He said Dr Shephard had been 'very ill for some time,'

News of Dr Shephard's death was originally announced on Twitter by York Minster Choir, which tweeted: "RIP Dr Richard Shephard MBE. Variously composer, headmaster, fundraiser, member of chapter, trustee, educationalist. And friend of @YorkMinChoir."

Tributes to Dr Shephard have since poured in. York councillor Ashley Mason tweeted: "Such sad news. Richard was someone who worked to always help others. An Honorary Freeman of the City of York and past Governor of York Adventurers. Especially passionate about young people. I will never forget the support he offered me. He will be missed by so many. RIP & God bless."

Robert Sharpe, Director of Music at York Minster, tweeted: "A great support, adviser, and wise counsel. RIP Richard Shephard."

Former council leader Steve Galloway tweeted: "A former school head, Richard dedicated his later years to the York Minster Fund, raising literally millions to secure the fabric of York's most iconic building. One of the nicest people that I ever met. RIP."

Other tributes posted include: "Farewell to Richard, one of York's great characters and a world-famous composer" and: "As frequent visitors to York since 1982, we greatly appreciated the comfort and continuity of his presence in Evensong. He will be sorely missed."

Another person tweeted: "A charming man, with a delicious sense of humour," and a fourth said:"Sad news but so grateful for his music. May he rest in peace."

Dr Shephard was made an MBE in 2012 for services to music and education.

He had an international reputation as a composer of church music, with his choral works sung extensively around the world, but he also wrote operas, musicals and music for television, and his compositions were broadcast frequently.

He was commissioned to write for the York Millennium Mystery Plays and was musical director for the York Minster Mystery Plays production of 2016.

He served on the Archbishops’ Commission on Cathedrals and on the Church Music Commission on Cathedrals and was a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music.

The Press reported in 2015 how the Minster was paying tribute to him in his retirement as Chamberlain and as director of development of the York Minster Fund by immortalising him as a grotesque on the cathedral’s East End.

The grotesque was holding a doctorate hat, and holding its hand as if conducting music, whilst the face was a familiar caricature of Dr Shephard.

Rebecca Thompson, superintendent of works at the Minster, said that when she discovered one of the decayed grotesques overlooking the Minster school needed replacement, incorporating a permanent tribute to Dr Shephard seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Dr Shephard said then: “Having oneself immortalised on the Minster as a grotesque may not be to everyone’s taste, but I am flattered and honoured that this piece of sculpture has been incorporated into the cathedral that has played such a large part of my life for many years."