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Choral Evensong

Choral Evensong Spreads

Choral Evensong

A friend of mine has just been to Germany. He told me something I was totally unaware of. German churches are celebrating Choral Evensong! That’s Anglican-style Choral Evensong.

As an example, he brought me back the service booklet for this from the Berliner Dom (thanks! – that is the service booklet in the image above). As you can see, the Berliner Dom has Choral Evensong – Domvesper in anglikanischer Tradition – Vespers in the Anglican Tradition.

That service booklet has the full English words for 1662 Evensong on the left hand pages and its translation into German on the right hand pages.

This Berlin Cathedral is a protestant church, but the same is happening at Cologne Cathedral which is Roman Catholic. And, presumably, this is more widespread. And possibly even beyond Germany. Readers here may know other examples.

This is not just tarted-up, Roman Catholic Vespers. Thomas Cranmer, in producing Evensong, combined the offices of Vespers (from which he drew the Magnificat, for example) and Compline (source of the Nunc Dimittis).

With Anglicanism numbers shrinking (see here and here), Choral Evensong is, internationally a growing phenomenon.

Here are examples, totally unexpected for me, of this particular Anglican tradition being taken up in quite ‘unAnglican’ contexts.

What are your thoughts?

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20 thoughts on “Choral Evensong Spreads”

  1. Many German churches host congregations who worship in other styles than protestant (mainly Lutheran oder Reformed tradition) or Roman Catholic.

    So there is obviously an English speaking congregation at the Berliner Dom.

  2. Hi,

    I’m Rob Harnish (theoretical physicist, Anglican priest working for BBC local radio in Guernsey CI). There is a story to be chased up here. (I sing countertenor at choral evensong every week.) If you have any further links or information, I would be like to chase it up!

  3. Yes, I have heard of this before. St Petri in Hamburg (also a Lutheran Church, just like the Dom in Berlin) has done it. And the Munich Episcopal Congregation’s choir regularly sings Evensong in the (German-speaking) Munich Old Catholic Church (mind you, we are in full communion with the OCC)
    The Hamburg choir was actually in residence last year at Durham Cathedral – not for the first time relieving an Anglican Cathedral’s choir for a week.
    And as a German myself, I have to add: Evensong was one of the things that drew me into the Anglican Communion.
    I think it is the sense of the mystical, which can draw even agnostics and atheists. And it is non-committing, unlike Eucharist, which is the Anglican form of altar call…
    Of course, there is also tons of amazing music, which choirs love….
    Just a note: in Hamburg (like in those parts of the Communion that are not Commonwealth Realm) they change “Oh Lord, save the Queen.” I suspect this happened in Berlin, too.

    1. Thanks, Markus. Especially about the Old Catholics – I have a strong interest in them. And, of course, your point about saving the Queen 🙂 I hadn’t spotted in the booklet that it is “O Lord, save our nations (O Herr, beschutze unserere Nationen). Blessings.

        1. Great. I have met Archbishop Joris Vercammen (in Utrecht) in 2005 [My Dutch is fluent]. Enjoy the weekend. We’ll pray for each other. Blessings.

  4. ‘My thoughts’, Bosco, are that this tradition of Choral Evensong has been sadly neglected in Anglican churches in New Zealand. St. Michael and All Angels, Christchurch, is one of the very few Anglican churches here that regularly shares this traditional form of worship outside of our cathedrals in this country. Perhaps this has much to do with the fact that popular Anglican worship seems to have taken up the ‘Big-Band’ worship of the pentecostal churches that bertter suits the young adults such churchers are concentrating on attracting to church.

    I remember as a Franciscan Brother in the Brisbane
    friary being told by visiting R. C. Friars that we had preserved the best of our tradition with Solemn Evensong, while the Roman Church was opting out of such traditions.

    It seems that one thing the Pope and his cardinals – who were present at an Anglican service of Evensong in Rome recently with the ABC and other Anglican Bishops – appreciated, was the experience of our distinctive liturgical tradition. It is a treasure we cannot afford to lose.

    1. Thanks, Fr Ron. I think the jury is still out about what “suits the young adults” – and I’m also not convinced that “suiting” is what worship is about. Blessings.

  5. I was told once that in the West as a whole, the Office has historically been seen as a monastic and clerical thing, rather than a congregational thing, but that the major exceptions have been the Anglican Evensong, and Sunday Vespers in Germany (or both, I suppose…). Is this accurate?

    1. Thanks, Peter. I think that the monastic/clerical understanding of the Office, yes, has long been a strong perspective. Just as “going into the church” meant ordination or joining a monastery. I think reforms often try to encourage the Office for all. That happened in the English Reformation and at Vatican II. Blessings.

  6. Anglican choral evensong (translated into Norwegian, or sometimes in English) is also popular in Norway, sung regularly at at least one Lutheran church in Oslo, and quite often over the years at the Lutheran Cathedral in Trondheim, Nidarosdomen. Sometimes these services are organised solely by the Lutherans, and on other times in cooperation with local Anglican congregations.

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