Last Friday we decided to attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey. It was definitely a mixed experience.
We arrived at the Abbey around 4:15pm (for the 5pm service). At that point although it had closed to new visitors, those already inside had until 4:30pm to leave. After finding a coffee shop, we returned at 4:45pm and found an Abbey warden mobbed, and that is the only description that does it justice. Without any explanation from those wishing to worship he was forcefully explaining that it was a worship service they were about to attend and once in they would not be able to leave until the end. When I asked him about what the music was (canticles, responses, anthems, who was singing, etc.) he had no idea and did not answer my question – he was only interested in stopping people trying to enter the Abbey without paying and taking photographs.
Inside the staff were very helpful – in total contrast to the warden at the West Gate. Directions to seats were pleasant. We sat underneath the lectern between the choir and the High Altar.
The service was unaccompanied plainsong sung by the Lay Vicars:
- Introit – O lux beata Trintas (attributed to Ambrose)
- Versicles and Responses (plainsong)
- Psalms 13 & 14 (plainsong)
- Magnificat (Philippe de Monte 1521-1603)
- Nunc Dimittis (Andrew Reid (b. 1971)
- Anthem – Circumdederunt me dolores mortis (Byrd c1539-1623)
After the service, we were greeted by a member of the Abbey clergy, and made most welcome.
All in all, a pleasant experience initially spoilt by the first member of the Abbey staff we encountered.
On this occasion there are no pictures to accompany this blog posting.
More about Westminster Abbey at: