Yesterday Ann and I went to London to have tea in the House of Commons with our friend Lee Scott and our MP when we lived at the vicarage. We went early so we could do a little shopping and wandered into Westminster Cathedral where we saw a poster advertising Evensong at Westminster Abbey to be sung by the Choirs of the Cathedral and Abbey on the Eve of the Translation of Edward the Confessor.
We enjoyed tea and then went to the gallery to hear Vince Cable answering questions about Lord Roberts report on Student Fees. Sitting opposite the Government we were able to pick out many familiar faces. Although we’ve been to the House of Commons before we’ve never been able to watch the proceedings. We stayed until just before 4.30 p.m. when we left to go to the Abbey. By the time we arrived most of the special chairs facing across the chancel had been taken but a gentleman usher took Ann and me to the Canon’s Stalls so we were in a wonderful position to both see and hear these two famous choirs.
The Introit was Psalm 1 sung by Westminster Cathedral Choir to plainsong. During the Office Westminster Abbey Choir sung the Vesicles and Responses to a setting by Bernard Rose. The Cathedral Choir sang Psalm110 to plainsong and then the Abbey Choir sang Psalm 147 vv 1-12 to Anglican Chant by Stanford. The joint Choirs sang the Magnificat to Palestrina’s Magnificat primi toni a 8 and the Nunc Dimttis to Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Nunc dimittis tertii toni. The combined Choirs sang the Anthem “Blessed city, heavenly Salem” by Edward Bairstow and then led a hymn “This, Christ’s true servant, Edward the Confessor” to Coelites plaudant from the Rouen Antiphoner.
The singing was outstanding and we really enjoyed being able to participate in this wonderful act of worship. For me the highlights were the Anglican Chant of which I am very fond and the tremendous singing of the plainsong and the brilliant performance of the Anthem.
We finished the day by going to the Spaghetti House Restaurant at Victoria for dinner before catching the Tube and train home.