Our Annual Meetings will be held at 8.15 pm on Wednesday 24th April.
Please do come along to these most important meetings of the year at which we elect our Churchwardens and Deputy Churchwardens, we hear the reports for the past year, and elect members to represent you on the PCC.
These are the meeting documents, containing the agenda, minutes of last years meeting, reports and accounts.
This article forms part of the Choral Evensong Blog by Damain Cranmer, and covers the evening service for Palm Sunday, entitled “The Way of the Cross”, and the music for Easter Day Evensong.
We sing the second part of ’Woefully arrayed’ (originally Woffully araide) by William Cornysh. This is a title that you don’t easily forget and I’ve known it for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever got close to the music until now. It is a passiontide text in which the first line returns at the end of each verse: “Thus wrapped all in woe,/ As never man was so,/ Treated thus in most cruel wise,/ Was like a lamb offered in sacrifice,/ Woefully arrayed.” The words are attributed to John Skelton (c1460-1529), whose London career included tutoring the young prince who would become Henry VIII. After ordination, he became rector of Diss in Norfolk, where he fell foul of the Bishop of Norwich, at least partly for his scurrilous verse and sarcastic wit, features of his poetry which Vaughan Williams used to such great effect in Five Tudor Portraits. There were two composers with the name William Cornysh around the turn of the 16th century. The younger who died in 1523 may have been son of the older, and it is he who wrote ‘Woefully arrayed’. It seems odd to us today but, there being no place before the Reformation for vernacular church music, this is a secular part-song, a genre which Cornysh did much to develop and which was greatly in favour in the early years of the reign of Henry VIII at court, where Cornysh became Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal.
Kenneth Leighton’s “Solus ad victimam” is a fine example of his contribution to church music. Like a number of 20th century composers including John Joubert whom I mentioned last time in relation to his obituary, Leighton (1929-1988) spent most of his active life in university music departments, finally as Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh. So although composition was not, as his long list of works for many different groups shows, a side-line, it did sit alongside his achievements as an academic. His choral style is constructed of logical lines with interesting twists to the harmony, which makes for rewarding singing. “Solus ad victimam” sets an English translation of a poem by Peter Abelard, a Frenchman, described by Chambers Biographical Dictionary as “the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century”. The opening words are “Alone to sacrifice thou goest, Lord, Giving thyself to Death whom thou hast slain.”
Victoria’s “Popule meus” follows. Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) left his home town of Avila in Spain in his early teens to enrol at the Jesuit Collegio Germanico in Rome, and he spent much of his early life in the city, resulting in the frequent Italianisation of his name to Vittoria. The text of “Popule meus” is the original Latin of the Reproaches, which were heard last year in this service in the English setting by John Sanders. Beside the dramatic, highly charged music of Sanders, that of Victoria can seem rather restrained, but it is important to remember the words from Micah, chapter 6, verse 3. “O my people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you?” One of the great results of the Reformation was the acceptance of the vernacular in the liturgy, and the Tudor English of the above must have made a significant effect on congregations. Nevertheless, the simple, repetitive harmony of the Victoria can still make an impact today.
Jonathan closes the service with Bach’s chorale prelude “O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde gross” BWV622 (O man, bewail your great sins). This prelude comes from the Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book) and is designated for Passiontide. The melody is presented in highly decorated style on a solo stop, while left hand and pedal accompany in increasingly chromatic fashion.
Easter Day Evensong
The psalm set for this evening is Ps 66. This is “O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands”, but not the Jubilate, which begins in the same way but is Ps 100. Ps 66 has hints of the escape from Egypt: “He turned the sea into dry land: so that they went through the water on foot, there did we rejoice thereof.” The chant is by George Elvey (1816-1893), whose music has been described as 50 years out of date at the time it was written, which, paradoxically, may be the reason that a couple of hymn tunes, “Come, ye thankful people come” and “Crown him with many thorns” survived the cull of late Victoriana and remain in the current repertoire. Most of his larger compositions do not.
The responses are by Smith, and the more I look at 16th and 17th century responses, the more I admire the work of this Durham musician, who is remembered (by me, at least) for nothing else.
The canticles for this service are Vaughan Williams in C. It’s possible that no other great composer of recent times has done more to encourage church music at all levels. The great Te Deums and the Mass in G minor can tax the best of choirs, but the hymn tunes, both original and arrangements, the result of his researches into folk and Tudor music, are an important feature of music in all churches. The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C is “set to music for the use of village choirs”, but it is much more than that, and well worth an outing for more adventurous groups. The VW style is quickly recognisable with a flat 7th (B flat) in bar 4, and later dorian harmony (sharp 6th) keeping eyes and ears open.
The anthem is “Most glorious Lord of life” by Sir William H Harris (1883-1973). Harris was a fine organist from an early age and held appointments in Lichfield and Oxford (New College and then Christ Church) before moving in 1933 to St George’s Windsor where he remained for 28 years. His most famous, and probably best, piece of church music is the anthem “Faire is the heaven” which like tonight’s anthem sets verse by Edmund Spenser (1552-1599). “Most glorious Lord of life” is from Amoretti, a collection of 89 sonnets mainly concerned with courtship, but including a few items such as this, in which everyday “secular” in the 16th century embraced what we today can easily accept as sacred. The anthem is structured as three verses of four lines each, with the final couplet a shortened version of the same melody.
The voluntary is Herbert Howells’ Paean. This ‘Hymn of praise’ is in direct contrast to the reflective calm of the Bach set for Palm Sunday. Easter needs celebration and this is a celebratory piece. Using the full range of the organ, it shows many features of Howells’ style. Over some long pedal notes, the music seems to be looking for a way out of the complex harmonies. There is a brief respite in the middle before the music proceeds to its inevitable triumphant ending.
On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus entering Jerusalem to be greeted by the crowds. We gather at the Cricket Pavilion at 9.15 am to hear the story and then, carrying palms and singing hymns, we make our joyful procession to St Mary’s for our Parish Eucharist, which this year includes a dramatic reading of the Passion story led by members of the congregation.
6.30 pm – ‘The Way of the Cross’, a powerful service with choir anthems, hymns, readings and prayers for the start of Holy Week.
MONDAY, TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK – 15th, 16th & 17th April, 8.00pm
Each evening we gather to share the Eucharist, a lovely quiet and reflective service ‘in the round’ in the Chancel area of the church. Each night, Will offers a devotional address to help us enter more deeply into the meaning and events of the last days of Jesus’ life.
MAUNDY THURSDAY – 18th April
8.00 pm THE LORD’S SUPPER with FOOT WASHING
Our evening service recalls the events of the Last Supper, the washing of feet and Jesus’ gift to us of the Eucharist. It starts with joy; but over it lies the shadow of the Cross, the Agony of Gethsemane and the torment of Good Friday. What begins as an occasion of rejoicing and thanksgiving ends on a different note in this extraordinarily powerful service. The Stripping of the Altars, the removal of all ornaments from the Sanctuary, the exit of choir, ministers and congregation in silence, all symbolise Christ’s isolation and loneliness.
Before that, however, there is the solemn procession to the Altar of Repose, symbolising the walk of Jesus and his disciples from the Upper Room out to the Garden of Gethsemane.
On arrival at the Altar of Repose the sacrament is placed on the Altar surrounded by flowers, reminding us of Gethsemane where Christ in his Sacrament waits; and we watch and pray with him in a vigil up until midnight…
9.00 pm THE VIGIL OF GETHSEMANE until midnight, concluding with
11.50 pm COMPLINE
GOOD FRIDAY – 19th April
10.00 am ALL AGE SERVICE
Our All Age Service is suitable for everyone. We gather to offer our songs, prayers and readings as we remember the events of the first Good Friday and Jesus going to the Cross to die for us.
The Easter Garden – decorated by our Friday morning Teddy Tots – will be on display for the first time after the service and then we make our way to the Transept for Hot Cross buns and other refreshments.
11.30 am WALK OF WITNESS from St John Fisher RC Church to the Common
We gather outside St John Fisher Roman Catholic Church on Dunstable Road to begin a Walk of Witness shared with Christians from all the different churches in Redbourn. At various points we stop to hear another part of the last hours of Jesus’ life, to pray and to offer a hymn as we celebrate our shared faith in Christ. All are welcome – young and old – as we walk and witness together.
1.30 pm GOOD FRIDAY LITURGY with COMMUNION
A stark, solemn and incredibly moving service offered at St Mary’s at the very time when we recall Jesus hanging on the Cross. The service includes a reading of the Passion story, the veneration of the Cross, a powerful Litany of prayers and an opportunity to receive Christ’s body and blood in the sharing of Communion with him in his death for each and every one of us.
EASTER DAY – 21st April
6.00 am DAWN VIGIL followed by PARISH BREAKFAST, leading into
8.00 am THE FIRST COMMUNION OF EASTER
10.00 am ALL AGE EUCHARIST followed by Easter Egg Hunt
12 noon HOLY COMMUNION
6.30 pm FESTAL EVENSONG for EASTER with St Mary’s Choir
Our Easter celebrations start at dawn with the Vigil of Readings, as we hear again the story of our salvation, fill the church with the new light of Easter, finishing with a splendid cooked breakfast. Our services continue with 8.00am, 10.00am (All Age) and 12 noon celebrations and we round of the day with a splendid Choral Evensong led by our choir.
EASTER MONDAY PILGRIMAGE
Monday 22nd April
On Easter Monday we join in the traditional Easter Pilgrimage to St Albans Abbey to join with thousands of others from around the Diocese.
We meet at 10.15 am for breakfast in the Transept, then set off at 11.00am and make the gentle walk along the River Ver to St Albans where we share a picnic lunch on the Abbey Orchard (bring your own) and then join in the joyful All Age Service at 3.00pm. Please sign up in church if you’re coming so we know how many to expect. Dogs welcome!