On Thursday 25th April the Chapel Choir had the privilege of singing Choral Evensong in the wonderful Quire of Canterbury cathedral. This comes at a significant time in the cathedral’s history – major renovations are taking place to spruce up the building in time for the Becket 800 celebrations next year, the Lambeth Conference and the installation of a new and impressive organ.
It is easy to overlook the significance and grandeur of this our local cathedral, the Mother Church of the Worldwide Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Cathedral has a tradition of visitor welcome that reaches back to the days of medieval pilgrimages and remains one of the oldest and most famous Christian places in the country.Replace with further content or remove this additional text…
The first thing that strikes the singers once in the choir stalls is quite how far apart they are – you can only really hear the other side well when things go wrong! The vastness of the building also brings acoustical experiences unlike our humble school chapel and changes the way one has to sing. Yet singing in this space is a deeply rewarding musical and spiritual experience that few will forget.
Having rehearsed the lengthy processions in and out of the stalls, the ritualistic bowing procedures and where we all needed to line up in St Andrew’s Chapel, we set about rehearsing the music. We brought music from one of our very own, Thomas Tallis, who was ioculator organum (organ player) of the Benedictine monastery of Dover Priory, 1530-31, where the musical resources were an organ and five or six singing boys! So it was that out own choir of 40 pupils and staff sang his Versicles and Responses that preceded a portion of Psalm 119 and later the anthem, the Easter Song of Praise, by a current York composer, Richard Shepherd, uniting past with present. The setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis was by the Victorian composer Charles Stanford. This gave us the chance to show off the solo talents of Summer Leigh (Soprano and Head Chorister) in the Magnificat and Edward Aylward Lopez (baritone) in the Nunc Dimittis.
A large congregation of parents, staff, friends and visitors to the cathedral took part in this very special service that has been part of cathedral worship for hundreds of years. As the notes soar into the roof space it is humbling to think you are part of a ritual that has been celebrated in this truly magnificent building for many centuries. The choir sang with conviction, accompanied ably on the organ by Mr Lockyer, and there were impressive contributions from all and notably from our two soloists. The group photos after the service will give many something to remember the occasion by and we hope that we will have the opportunity to sing there again in future years. Well done all in the Chapel Choir!