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Choral Evensong

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Choral Evensong

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Choral Evensong

Walk into a choral evensong service at one of England’s great churches – Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s in London, Christ Church Oxford or Durham Cathedral – and you experience not only an age-old Anglican tradition that dates back to 1549, but also some of the best quality food for the soul you can get, whether you’re religious or not. What’s more, it’s free and you don’t have to book seats.

Usually mid to late afternoon, most of the service is sung by the choir during evensong and may include psalms, passages from the Old and New Testaments and choral anthems. Popular composers are Handel, Holst, Britten, Philip Moore and many others. You can also tune in to hear choral evensong on BBC Radio 3 every Wednesday afternoon between 4 and 5. The weekly slot was first broadcast on 7 October 1926 from Westminster Abbey, and has been part of the schedules ever since.


Your comments

Of all the English church services, Evensong, celebrated according to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, has a dignity and beauty that goes hand in hand with English churches and cathedrals. Whether it's heard on a summer evening or in the depths of winter, this simple service reaches out across the centuries and gives us unity.

francis Wright

England has the finest living tradition of church music in the world.
Andrew Lowe Watson

I'm an American student studying in England and since I was introduced to the sound of English choirs five years ago, I've been drawn to the country's choral tradition ever since. The first choral recording I purchased is of the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge. Today, even after hearing many other choirs from all over the world, I still consider them to be my favorite and unsurpassed on many musical levels. But now that I'm spending a semester in England, I'm blessed enough to hear the Choir live by attending Evensong at least twice a week at Trinity College. I knew absolutely nothing about Evensong (or many other Anglican worshipping traditions) before coming to England so when I first had my taste with the choir that gave me my first taste of choral music altogether, I was gradually led to realize something huge. When I discovered choral beauty during high school, especially the purity which Trinity brings, for me as then and now a very faith-filled Catholic, music and spirituality became forever fused. I had been devoted all my life to these two seperately, but at hearing what beauty of sound and content can be expressed through the simplest yet grandest of all instruments, the human voice, I never knew in what external, earthly way this fusion within me could be manifested. So after attending a couple of Choral Evensong services, I then realized that Evensong is exactly that! As a student here for just three months, I've been around the country and each time I'm able, I attend Choral Evensong wherever I can. I do notice that many people present at Evensong are there for the "free ride". They attend simply to get into the "museum" without having to donate or pay admission and then gawk at the choristers. At first, I thought it tacky and inappropriate to do that. But now I don't blame them. Perhaps one or many might be touched by something about Choral Evensong - the music, the ritual, or the house of prayer itself - as I was when I first came to England...and I thank God I'm here!

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I think the National Gallery is part of the heritage of England