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?