Evensong at the Redeemer
The Office of Evensong has very ancient roots and is one of the jewels in the crown of the Church.
Born from humble, monastic roots, this liturgy was formed into its current format by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of both Henry VIII and Edward VI. Cranmer molded the first liturgy of Evensong from the monastic Offices of Compline and Vespers, the last two Offices of the monastic day, and incorporated it into his “Book of Common Prayer” in 1549. A major revision was made to the 1549 book, and in 1662 was published the “Book of Common Prayer” which would remain the customary prayer book of the Anglican Communion to this day.
The service of Evensong, as it is celebrated at the Redeemer, is based upon the 1662 version of the Office, and incorporates the “Service of Light” – a series of prayers and readings which precede it.
Once a brief series of prayers have been offered, the choir sings an anthem, and a hymn is sung whilst the candles throughout the church are lit. Once this is completed, the appointed psalm is sung by the choir to an Anglican Chant setting, as is the tradition. This is followed by the reading of the lessons, to which the choir responds by singing a setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis respectively.
The people are invited to join in the recitation of the Apostles' Creed, which is sung by all. Then begins the dialogue of the Preces and Responses; a series of invocations sung by the choir on behalf of the congregation.
The anthem, usually based on the readings, season or feast day is sung, and is typically a little longer than the average Sunday morning anthem. In many ways, it fulfills the role of a sermon, expounding upon the theological message in a manner that the spoken word cannot.
The service closes with the recitation of the Great Thanksgiving, the singing of an hymn, and the postlude.
This is a short service, typically less than one hour in duration, of transcendent luxury, where through the beauty of holiness, we offer our praises to God.
- Michael S. Murray, Organist & Choirmaster