Monday 24 December 2012

A fitting end to Advent

After our difficulty finding sung Evensong in London, it was a pleasure to attend Evensong yesterday at All Saints Church, Margaret Street, for the last Sunday in Advent. We had Byrd's Fauxbourdons for the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, with the Magnificat antiphon O Emmanuel, plus the plainchant Alma Redemptoris Mater from Paul Brough and the choir of All Saints; along with a fine, thoughtful sermon from the Rector, Alan Moses. Then this afternoon we attended Solemn Pontifical First Vespers of Christmas at Westminster Cathedral, with Martin Baker and the Choir of Westminster Cathedral, with the Archbishop of Westminster officiating.

I have to confess that I could listen to Westminster Cathedral choir singing plainchant for hours. For Vespers we had the office hymn, Christe, redempto ominum, plus Psalms 112 (Laudate pueri Dominum) and 114 (Lauda Jerusalem Dominum), with the canticle Christus Iesus qui in forma Dei esset (Philippians 2:6-11), each with their antiphon. The psalms and canticle were sung alternim, alternating chant with fully harmonised versions. Then the Magnificat was Marenzio's Magnificat Octavi toni and the motet, Palestrina's O Magnum Mysterium. To complete matters, we had Messiaen's Dieu Parmi Nous from La Nativite du Seigneur as the organ voluntary. A perfect pair of services to finish Advent and start Christmas.

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