Thursday: 5.30pm (During term time)
What’s the aim of the service?
Choral Evensong is a small part of something infinitely larger: the worship which is offered to God by Christian people, every hour of everyday, in every part of the world, and through which we experience God’s renewing presence. In the peace and beauty of this building, we find the space to turn our hearts towards the Lord. The service has been described as “a window on heaven” and “an oasis of peace”.
What is Choral Evensong?
It is a service unique to the Anglican Church and has been in use for more than four centuries. Although the Choir leads the major part of the service, the Congregation is able to share fully in the worship by joining in the hymns and responding in heart and mind, as well as voice, to all that is going on in the service.
It has been said that to be at Choral Evensong is like dropping in on a conversation which is already in progress – a conversation between God and human beings which began long before we were born and will go on long after we are dead. So do not be surprised, or disturbed, if there are some things in the conversation which you do not at once understand.
This service is drawn almost entirely from the words of the Bible.
Its main purpose is to proclaim the wonderful works of God in history, and in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It also invites in the worshipper a response of praise, penitence, prayer and obedience.
There’s more information in the booklet each worshipper is given at the service.
The service is in four parts:
The first part, which is very brief, prepares us for the story which is to follow.
The second part is the story of what God has done (and continues to do) to save his people, beginning in the Old Testament (the Psalm and the First Reading), then moving to the New Testament (the Magnificat, - song of Mary the Second Reading and the Nunc Dimittis - song of Simeon) and reaching its climax as we affirm our faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, expressing our longing for God’s new Kingdom..
The third part is our human response to the God who revealed in history, in scripture and supremely in Jesus Christ, expressed through special prayers and an anthem sung by the choir.
The fourth part focusses on the response of our own Christian community and includes a sermon on Sundays and our prayers of intercession for the world and our local community. We sing a hymn and are sent out with a blessing.
Why does the Choir play such a large role in the service?
Worship without music does not easily soar; wherever the church has been concerned to make worship really expressive of truth, music has been used: sometimes this means music simple enough for everyone to join in; but at other times it means more elaborate music, in which those who are especially gifted lead the worship on behalf of everyone else.
Choral Evensong is an example of the second form. The highly skilled singing of a Cathedral Choir, and the equally highly skilled playing of a Cathedral Organist, is in partnership with the architecture and the stained glass of the building: it is a finely wrought music, in which the musicians offer on behalf of the people what we cannot always do ourselves.
As we join in this universal and timeless offering of worship to God, we recall that God through the Holy Spirit is always with us here and now. Meditate on the words that are sung and the beauty that surrounds us and allow yourself to be lifted up as music is sung and melody made – not as a concert, but as an offering to God who is Lord of all, and source of all beauty and creativity.
Where do I sit?
Please follow the direction of the sidespeople or verger and find a seat up the steps in the Chancel area, towards the high altar.
Do I have to say or do anything?
There are places where the congregation is invited to stand and you may like to do this, but it is fine if you prefer to remain seated. You will be invited to join in with some spoken parts, printed in bold in this booklet.