Upcoming dates announced soon.
Join our choir for an uplifting service of Choral Evensong including hymns, scripture, anthems, and chanted psalms and prayers. A great treasure of the Anglican tradition, Evensong is a peace-inducing service in which the ‘song’ of voices sounding together in harmony is heard at the ‘even’ing point between the active day and restful night, allowing worshippers a space for restful contemplation of God’s truth.
The service of Evensong, like Morning Prayer, is Thomas Cranmer’s Reformation-era update of several daily ancient monastic offices. Cranmer created these liturgies in the 16th century with the general public in mind, motivated by the fact that each would condense more services than people could be expected to attend into one short service. The music took shape a few decades later, and the service has remained basically unchanged, carried forward by great cathedrals throughout the English-speaking world, while being adorned with new music by composers of each successive generation.
Cranmer’s Evensong draws heavily from the deep well of God’s Word. The peaceful chanting of the Old Testament Psalms soon turns into the exuberant burst of the New Testament’s ‘Magnificat’ – the song of Mary, a young woman rejoicing at the prospect of the birth of her child, Jesus – and the solemn ‘Nunc Dimittis’ – the song of Simeon, an old man gently facing his death, eye-to-eye, now his life has been fulfilled by meeting Jesus. An interesting aspect of the genius of the service is the balance between female and male, young and old, and Old and New Testament in these ‘Canticles’. An anthem that follows quotes scripture or draws on a major scriptural theme.
The high proportion of music in the Evensong service is arguably what distinguishes it from other church services. Music is very good at carrying us beyond the limitations of human words towards those things we cannot articulate. Whether in the joyous Magnificat, the pleas of the Nunc Dimittis, or the pure praise of the Psalms, in Choral Evensong the choir sings on “behalf of” the congregation, allowing the congregation time to meditate and enter into deeper prayer through words and music. A few congregational hymns provide opportunity to exhort one another and lift all our voices together to God. Afterwards, the church resonates with the playing of the organ, perhaps one of the great organ works of Bach.
Perhaps one of the reasons Evensong is so effective is that packs so much deep history into such an elegantly simple form. The fact that Evensong has had such a long evolution means that one has a powerful sense of connecting present with past, of tapping into a conversation already in progress between God and people, throughout all ages.