Friday, May 16, 2014

Evensong at St Paul's

After our work today at the BL, we headed to St Paul's for our first British Evensong (first of many - my poor husband is watching his calendar fill up!).  It was a spectacular service.  The cathedral is stunning - I wish I could've taken photos to share, but you're not supposed to, and besides, we had other things to think about!  We sat underneath the dome with a mixed group of tourists and worshipers, and it was a lovely experience to be a part of the congregation rather than the choir for once.  The choir itself was excellent - their Introit, an Alleluia by Taverner, was sung behind us, under the dome, and was so lovely I nearly cried.  Their sound from the choir stalls was somewhat more hampered by the acoustic of the cathedral, which favored the boys in their upper register to the detriment of the adult men, especially the altos, making the choir sound oddly top-heavy. It also made their diction fuzzy, but the words of the canticles and prayers were printed on our leaflet, and they had handed out psalmbooks too, so only the anthem text was lost on the hearers.  In addition to Taverner, the choir sang the Byrd Responses (which I've sung myself many times), a Gibbons Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (which I didn't know, but thought was awesome), and a Tomkins anthem.  I really do love the late Elizabethan verse anthem.  After the service, we looked around the cathedral a bit, briefly, and I lit a candle and said a prayer for my godson.

Just outside the church is Paternoster Square, a fantastic urban courtyard that included, in addition to many expensive-looking and very busy bars (it was happy hour, of course), a whisky bar, sandwich shops, sushi, gourmet burritos, and even a hummus and falafel place.  We loved the aesthetic, and dreamed about an alternate future in which we had loads of money and could live in one of the apartments overhead.

With my eye for old things, we spotted what seemed to be the wall of a church across the street. Christchurch Greyfriars is actually a park managed by the city of London on the site of a ruined church.  The flower gardens are arranged in the pattern of the old aisle and pews, which we thought was really cool.





And in other news, next week the British Library is going to let me look at this:

6 comments:

  1. When I first saw Paternoster Square in 1989, fantastic is not a word that anyone would have used to describe it. Prince Charles often used it as an example of what was wrong with modern planning and architecture. Since then, they tore down all the post war ugliness and replaced it with what you see today.

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    1. How interesting! Have you seen it since?

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    2. Yes, I have been lucky enough to see it a few times since then. I think most recently in 2011.

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  2. If you are still in London on Sunday, I hope you make it to St. Brides for evensong. I've been proselytizing about it for years and I don't think anyone has ever taken my advice to go.

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    1. Upon your advice from that blog post long ago, I will definitely make it to St Bride's! Not this weekend, but we're here for three months, so there will be time. I'm waiting for them to post their June music schedule.

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  3. Glad St. Paul's was a good experience for you. I remember evensong there in 2007...must've been the B team on deck that night because it wasn't anywhere near as moving as you describe.

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