Introduction As I entered the church from the northern entrance, rushing not to miss the 5pm evensong quire, the beauty of the cathedral was breathtaking and I could not help, but to take a minute and stare at the beauty of the building and precision of the detailing of each piece of architecture of the artist in the creation of the gothic building.
As I entered in the church, the first thing to catch my attention was the beauty of the golden high alters which apart from the rest of the church was built in the 19th century. At the center of the mosaic creation of the alter is a mosaic showing the last supper that Jesus had with his disciples. There are four large statues of Moses, St. peter, St Paul and another of king David on either side of the alter which give the whole building a serene feeling of holiness. The pulpit where the sermon is conducted is made of gilded wood and from where the sermon is conducted on Sundays.
As I walked the length of the abbey, I reached an entrance on the end where the evensong is conducted. There is where I met vergers, who looked as though they were on guard duty at the door, but when I asked them about the evensong, they let me in pleasantly and gave me a program which explains the service. they also added my name to the list of people to sit in the quire. From their on, I just watched what other people were doing and copied them.
We were then later issued with pamphlets with the week’s services and music along with the evensong service sheet. which basically tells one when to stand and sit or when to respond. The service then soon began when the whole congregation was signaled to arise in the singing of the poem Tallis in manus tuas, Domine (after Thomas Tallis). The poem was also in the pamphlet issued to the rest of the congregation and soon, I was in rhythm with the rest of the congregation in the recitation of the Tallis in manus tuas, Domine (Tallis, pg 89).
Soon after, we completed reciting the Tallis in manus tuas, Domine the preacher who had been seated at the alter came in to the pulpit and gave a brief reading from the Bible only and excluded a sermon. After the reading, the choir which mainly consisted of around thirty boys who were seated at the quire and wore red robes, arose and what followed left me speechless. The boys’ singing of Purcell Lord, how long wilt thou be angry was really the most wonderful thing I have ever heard (Tallis, pg 112). Just like me the rest of the congregation was left also wanting for more. I guess its one of the major reasons why the Westminster abbey is so popular and why each service is always a full house.
The entire service lasted for a period of around 45 minutes and was concluded by a prayer by the preacher. He then later led the congregation in the recitation of the sign of the cross after which everybody dispersed.
Tallis, Thomas, and William Byrd. Cantiones sacrae: 1575. London: Decca Record Co., 1969. Print.
Westminster Abbey. Radnor, Pa.: Annenberg School Press, 1972. Print.Hide