Safari Evensong


The weather may have been more suited to November, but a quick check in the calendar proved it was indeed the start of July, and therefore officially summer. Undaunted by the meteorological conditions, an intrepid party of choristers met at the historic church of St Mary's, Woburn early in the afternoon of Sunday July 6th 2008 to brave the elements and sing Evensong at three locations in the same benefice, the other two being at St John the Baptist Eversholt and St Peter Milton Bryan. Roughly a third of the service took place in each of the three churches, giving those 'on safari' the chance to see a lot of interesting architectural details as well as an exploration of the overall area around Woburn itself. The whole event had an impromptu feel as we relocated as quickly as possible to the pews and choirstalls at each venue. Car-sharing reduced the carbon pawprint along the way, and luckily no explorers were lost to marauding lions or tigers waiting to pounce on us from the verges.

St Mary's, Woburn

A souvenir slide-show has been prepared which can be seen at the bottom of this page and gives a good flavour of the event. The chap at the front of one or two of the group shots (the one with the flash bouncing off the top of his 'distinguished' head) is Roger Carter, who expertly conducted the event, and the gentleman who can be seen in some of the shots alongside the various organs is Roger Lander, who is based at Woburn, and accompanied the event. There are a couple of other individual mug shots lurking amidst the undergrowth. You should not need binoculars to identify an anoraked and smiling Christopher Muhley (Area Chairman), and the person sporting a rather fetching pith helmet is yours truly.

Notwithstanding the short time available for rehearsal, the music included a newly commissioned anthem by Malcolm Archer, O how amiable are thy dwellings, which proved most effective. The Canticles were sung to the unison setting in A flat by Charles Wood and the Introit was a very effective 3-part canon Dona nobis pacem from that well-known composer 'Anon'. And, to make sure we really did earn our cream tea, we also had a thoughtful sermon from Revd Stephen Nuth, (Priest In Charge of Woburn with Eversholt, Milton Bryan, Battlesden and Pottersgrove).

Luckily, we did not take the safari allusion too literally; else we might have been confronted by the prospect of biltong and rooibos. Instead, as luck would have it, the afternoon ended with cream tea, complete with freshly made scones, in the elegant crypt at St Mary's. There was plenty enough for seconds (and even thirds, but perhaps we had better not dwell on this too much!) We are extremely grateful to the refreshments team who made this happen. All too soon it was time to depart. A few people took up the offer to try out the St Mary's organ, and a very fine instrument it is. A number of recitals are being held throughout the summer months, and full details can be obtained by contacting Roger Lander: .

A short guide to the slide-show:

The first group of pictures were taken at St Mary's, Woburn, and cover the period between assembly and the end of the rehearsal. The photo of smiling-chorister-plus-brolly signals the decamping to Eversholt, arguably the best-looking church we visited. All tended to be Norman, with Victorian 'improvements'. During the slide show you will see some interesting stained glass, and also some wall murals. We were told that some of these were modelled on the (19th century) priest's housekeeper, which explains why so many angels have identical faces! The final picture at Eversholt is of the war memorial outside the church. Our Area Secretary obviously put an 'X' in the No Publicity Box, as he has obscured his entire face with his music in the car park on route to Milton Bryan, our final stopping off point. A few slides later, you can see a wall plaque dedicated to John Parr, who passed away at Christmas in 1903. We were told that this church has absolutely no heating whatsoever, but we assume the two are not connected. Just before the mug shots of choristers tucking into tea, there is a mug shot of a different kind, as everyone dutifully lined up back at Woburn for the traditional group photo. If you look closely, you will see that most people are still smiling, so I guess the overall event was quite successful. It was certainly a different way to experience Evensong.

NB No choristers were harmed in the making of the slide-show.

*** Report by Andy Benoy ***

Some photos from the event © Andy Benoy

Some comments on the recent Safari Evensong: