With thanks to Mr Hudson and to our Film Fellow David Clifford.
With the ‘Beast from the East’ approaching, this term’s Cathedral Evensong looked until the last moment as if it might have to be cancelled, but the wise decision was made to go ahead after our Long Mynd coach driver explained that in his opinion the snowflakes were "far too small" to put him off. He was proved right and two hours later we were rehearsing in the Norman magnificence of one of England’s most unjustly underrated cathedrals.
As usual, the Choir, consisting of 70 pupils and five staff, filled the stalls built for rather small numbers, and all felt inspired by the limpid acoustic as we tapped into centuries of the choral cathedral tradition. The varied programme spanned the whole 500 years of the Anglican tradition: the Tudor period represented by the Richard Ayleward Responses and William Byrd’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, the 20th century by the ever-topical ‘O pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ by Herbert Howells.
A congregation around the size of the Choir had made it through the snow and ice and sat huddled in the nave, their presence and support much appreciated by the singers, many of us with scarves and other warm clothing artfully concealed about our persons.
As ever, food for the soul was followed by food for the body, and after a long and windy walk through wintry cloisters to change, we piled into a neighbouring branch of ASK for pizza and ice cream(!). One elderly couple – out for a quiet meal – on learning that we had just sung evensong in the cathedral, asked if we would sing them something. With no music to hand, the often-sung responses had to do duty, and the astonished waiters and our appreciative pensioners were treated to ‘O Lord open thou our lips … and our mouths shall shew forth thy praise’. I imagine that some of them may have thought we were talking about the pizzas!
A marvellous occasion for which we again thank Director of Chapel Music Alex Mason and our organist Dr John Godwin.
Mr Clifford's film of the Chapel Choir preparing for the Evensong can be viewed below: