Why choral evensong is becoming more popular

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Gerry Lynch, a friend of this blog, and communications director for the Diocese of Salisbury in the Church of England has written a brief essay on the growing popularity of choral evensong in the British church:

I’m addicted to weekday Choral Evensong. In a ‘bad’ week, I get to the Cathedral twice; in a good week, every night.


And I’m not alone. The recent report on church growth confirmed that weekday Cathedral congregations are the fasting growing part of the C of E.

Some say the anonymity appeals; others that Evensong congregations want a free recital without ‘real’ religion. I think that’s true only in small part.

We Anglicans are reticent about celebrating our strengths. I see weekday Evensong as ecumenical, interfaith and vital for a growing, healthy, Church. ….

As ‘success’ for the Church is often defined as convincing people intellectually of the truth of Christianity, Evensong is countercultural. It allows God to speak in beauty directly to people’s hearts.

An unacknowledged reason for weekday Evensong’s success is its time slot. Many young adults need to work on Sundays to fund their education. Divorced parents drive for hours to be with their kids on Sundays, getting home late and tired; kids want to hang out with Mum or Dad, not go to church. We may lament the end of the traditional Sunday, but these trends are here to stay.

Is choral evensong similarly popular in the United States? Should the Episcopal Church be offering it more widely?

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Brian McMichael
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Brian McMichael

My wife and I visited the 9/11 Memorial site. We were deeply moved by the narrative artifact photo installation at St. Paul's Chapel. We viewed the unsettling "Reflecting Absence" memorial that consists of a field of trees interrupted by two large voids containing recessed pools, marking the footprints of the Twin Towers. We did not visit the museum. It was a lot to take in emotionally. We decided to visit Trinity-Wall Street. Accidentally and providentially, we arrived a few minutes before the regular Thursday choral evensong. It was attended by about 20 people, who chanted and sang beautifully, along with a wonderful 4-part choir. It was a welcome reflective capstone to a sad and solemn visit.

http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/events/solemn-evensong

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Sally H
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Sally H

Choral evensong is one of those services that make me glad to be Episcopalian. I visited St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle several years ago with my ELCA Pastor cousin, attended their Sunday evensong service, and wept. My own parish offers them periodically, sometimes in conjunction with other parishes in the city. Powerful.

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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Stumbled upon St. Mary the Virgin at Times Square last week, quite by accident. Attended choral evensong for the Eve of Ascension. It was a very moving transcendent experience. The music was superb, and there was a very good sized congregation.For what it's worth, I highly recommend it to anyone.

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Eugene Pagano
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Eugene Pagano

My rather small parish on Long Island offers choral evensong two Sundays each year.

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