I’m delighted to announce that we are beginning a regular monthly service of Choral Evensong at St James, Barlborough on the first Sunday of the month at 5.00pm.
Our first service of this year will be this Sunday 6th February at 5.00pm and we look forward to welcoming you.
Choral Evensong is one of the treasures of the Church of England. Evensong dates back to the time of the Reformation, a time when it was agreed that ordinary people should be able to worship in their own language. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer created the service by combining the Latin services of Vespers and Compline and translating them into the beautiful English of his day. Over the centuries composers have produced different settings of the prayers. Most of the service is sung by the choir.
Cranmer’s Evensong starts with the chanting of the Old Testament Psalms, written by King David, with his harp. Their mantra-like repetition often helps create a peaceful atmosphere, but one that is soon interrupted by the exuberant burst of the Magnificat – the song of a young woman, Mary, rejoicing at the prospect of the birth of her child, Jesus – and then made solemn by the New Testament’s Nunc Dimittis – the song of an old man, Simeon, gently facing his death, eye-to-eye, now his life has been fulfilled by meeting Jesus. A major 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 follows that fits the mood of the day, and the service finishes after a second hymn. Afterwards the church resonates with the playing of the organ.
The best description I heard once of Evensong was to think of it as getting into the back of a limousine. The music will transport you into God’s presence, all that is required of you is to come on the journey. The service does not demand much of you as a congregation member, you can simply allow the music, scripture and liturgy to lift you.