St Peter's Church, Great Berkhamsted

The Church of St Peter Great Berkhamsted

Choral Evensong

Choral Evensong is a traditional service when we glorify God through the beauty of choral singing, the poetry of Christian liturgy, and the stillness of prayers.

It’s a service where people often find great comfort and tranquillity simply through contemplation, as they immerse themselves in the beauty of choral music and prayer.

At St Peter’s Berkhamsted, our church choir leads services of Choral Evensong usually on the 2nd Sunday of the month. This can vary at different times of the year, so please check our Worship Calendar if you would like to come to one of our services.

Everyone is welcome, whether you are a regular churchgoer or if you are exploring faith.

 

Music has a crucial role to play with its capacity to transcend the here and now by opening the doors of our minds and hearts to something beyond ourselves, to God. When sacred music is performed in a sacred space, such as a church or a cathedral, then we have an opportunity to come to the windowsill of heaven and to contemplate the glorious life of being in the company of God.

 

The music is drawn from our rich Anglican choral repertoire, and also from other European traditions. You may hear Responses set to music by English composers such as William Byrd, a Magnificat by the Irishman CV Stanford, or an uplifting anthem by Italy’s Palestrina or Britain’s Vaughan Williams. Each setting breathes new life onto ancient words and brings us closer to God.

While the choir sings the main part of the service, Evensong is interspersed with hymns, when the congregation can join in singing. These are usually hymns of praise or thanksgiving, some asking for God’s peace as the day draws to a close.

 

While the music changes from week to week, the structure of each service follows a familiar pattern.

Versicles & Responses (part 1)

Traditional prayers inviting God to be present with us, sung by the priest and choir

Psalm

Selected verses from the Psalms, usually set to a rhythmic Anglican chant

Hymn

 

Old Testament Reading

 

Magnificat

The first of the Evening Canticles, the song of praise sung by Mary 2000 years ago when she became the mother of Jesus

“My soul doth magnify the Lord…”

New Testament Reading

 

Nunc Dimittis

The second Evening Canticle, the joyful words of Simeon when he saw the baby Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem

“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace….”

Anthem

A longer choral piece, usually a text in English, Latin or another language which is connected with the liturgical theme of the day.

The Apostles’ Creed

Said together, when we affirm our Christian faith

Versicles & Responses (part 2)

Prayers for courage, grace and protection, sung by the priest and choir

Hymn & closing prayers

 

Organ voluntary

The organist may play a piece of organ music as the choir departs

 

See also