Sunday, 19 January 2014

A heart-stoppingly lovely performance of Tchaikovsky's "Crown of Roses" at Evensong

I usually attend Sunday Mass (well, two or three times a month, to be honest). But lately, I've been going to Evensong instead about once a month. There are disadvantages  - no communion, no packed house, no lusty hymn-singing, and there isn't the same sense of a whole community at prayer. But there are some distinct advantages: for a start, there are no bawling babies, no kiddywinkles running up and down the aisle or dropping their bloody toys ever five seconds, no disruptive late-comers, there's always plenty of space, and you don't have to rush through the Sunday papers to get there on time.

Because Evensong is a quiet, hushed, deeply reverent affair, it's provides an ideal opportunity for some serious contemplation - I tend to leave the morning service in a rather jolly mood, but Evensong leaves me feeling becalmed, at peace with myself and the world. My favourite services are those which feature the choir. Instead of having to fumble cluelessly through the Nunc Dimittis, Magnificat, Cantate Domino etc, I can listen to the choir perform expertly, while I concentrate on the words. And each service brings unexpected choral treats. This evening, for instance, there was a meltingly lovely performance of Tchaikovsky's Crown of Roses which gave one a sense of floating serenely in eternity for a few moments - damn near broke my heart.

There are many accomplished performances available on YouTube, but this is the one that came closest to the spirit of what we heard in St. Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park tonight:

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