Home / blog / Choral Evensong — A Brief History

Choral Evensong — A Brief History

We will be having a Choral Evensong on Sunday, December 17, at 5:00 p.m. in the Nave, with a Eucharist. Do you know the roots of this beautiful service?

Choral Evensong is a peace-inducing service in which the ‘song’ of voices sounding together in harmony is heard at the ‘even’ point between the active day and restful night, allowing listeners time for restful contemplation.

The origins of Evensong can be found in the services that Jesus himself led with his disciples that evolved into Christian scripture, poetry and doctrine. The service thus has a direct lineage back to the very beginning of Christianity, and even beyond that to the older Judaic tradition. As an English language service, Evensong dates back to the time of the Reformation, using elements of the old monastic Offices of Vespers and Compline. The fact that Evensong has had such a long evolution means that one has a powerful sense of connecting present with past, of tapping into something much greater than ourselves.

Cranmer’s Evensong starts with the chanting of the Old Testament Psalms that helps create a peaceful atmosphere, but one that is soon interrupted by the exuberant burst of the ‘Magnificat’ – the song of Mary, rejoicing at the prospect of the birth of her child, Jesus – and then made solemn by the New Testament’s ‘Nunc Dimittis’ – the song of an old man, Simeon, gently facing his death. The service concludes with an anthem, hymns and an organ finale. Choral evensong is a beautiful tradition that can give respite and inspiration during our busy modern lives.

Please join us.