St Albans Abbey Evensong - 11th February 2008

Sung by our Local Area Chamber Choir

A report from Christine Barron, Lay Reader of St Paul's Church, St Albans

Chris and Christine Chris Muhley and Christine Barron

In conjunction with St Albans Diocesan Liturgical Committee, the RSCM held an Area Convention in September 2007 to which were invited, not only musicians and choristers, but clergy and readers as well. As someone whose Christian background before becoming a licensed Reader was non-conformist, I welcomed the opportunity to extend my musical and liturgical appreciation and found the whole Convention inspirational. We came together at the end of the day for a service of Evensong after which Christopher Muhley (Area Chairman) suggested forming a small choir from amongst us to participate in an Evensong service at St Albans Abbey in February. I have never before sung in a church choir so this was an opportunity not to be missed: I volunteered!

When the thirty singers gathered in January for our first practice I felt out of my depth! The Responses were Byrd's five-part setting; Canticles were Wood in C minor and the anthem Byrd's Bow thine ear, O Lord. The only piece of music I knew was the hymn and my sight reading skills are minimal! But such was the enthusiasm, encouragement and expertise of our choirmaster and the experience of the rest of the singers, that I came away having really enjoyed the challenge and determined to use the two weeks leading up to the actual day to practise hard.

Roger Carter on organ

We had a couple of hours before the service to rehearse in the cathedral song school and after a quick verbal run through of how to process, we filed down the stairs to our places in the stalls.

I can't comment musically on the service, but as a Reader involved in planning and preparing services I did appreciate the sensitivity with which the music had been chosen and the way in which we as a choir were encouraged to engage with the mood and the meaning of the words. Because of my background I seem to have missed out on the richness and spiritual depth of so much Christian liturgy and music. Participating in Evensong as part of the RSCM choir has helped to widen my experience and has stirred me up to pursue this area in as many ways as may open up for me. Already I recognise how much it will enhance my ministry as a licensed Reader.

Roger Carter on organ

It was an uplifting and memorable experience both musically and spiritually, so thank you very much indeed to everyone involved for making this possible. For those who missed this occasion there will possibly be others, so keep a look out!

Evensong St Albans