Evensong at St. James Cathedral

by Derek E. Nickels, DMA, Director of Music

The Holy Comforter Choir has been invited to join the Cathedral Choir at St. James Cathedral (65 E. Huron in Chicago) to sing a special Evensong service on Sunday, May 5th at 4:00 p.m. The choirs will be singing Josef Rheinberger's Abendlied, Richard Shephard's My Eyes For Beauty Pine, William Smith's Preces and Responses in A-flat major, and Charles Villiers Stanford's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C major, Op. 115.  The parish is cordially invited.

The liturgy for Evensong is taken from the Daily Office of Evening Prayer found in The Book of Common Prayer.  Two daily monastic services (Vespers and Compline) were combined in the first Anglican Book of Common Prayer in 1549 by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Compline is an ancient rite that is over a thousand years old, yet in our busy modern world, many flock to places of worship where these serene and beautiful evening rites are recited and sung as a much-needed respite from the hectic and busy schedules of our modern life.

One of the beauties of Evensong is the flexibility found in its simple outline of five elements of psalter, hymn, reading, blessing, and dismissal.  The Phos hilaron is the traditional opening hymn for Evening Prayer.  Its origins are traced back to the early Greek church where it was used as a lamp-lighting hymn.  This hymn calls our attention to the setting sun, the close of the day, and serves as a reflection and thanksgiving for all that happened that day.

The Magnificat or "Song of Mary" is one of the three great Canticles of the New Testament.  At Evensong, the Magnificat is traditionally sung following the First Lesson.  The Nunc Dimittis is the last in the historical sequence of the three great Canticles of the New Testament and is traditionally sung following the Second Lesson.
Please join us at St. James Cathedral!