Christ Church Cathedral is one of only a small number of churches in North America that offers Choral Evensong on a weekly basis throughout the year, in recognition of the fundamental place of the Daily Office in our Anglican identity and heritage. While Anglicanism has changed enormously in its now almost 500-year history, and many today find the language of the Book of Common Prayer both outdated and inaccessible, the simple yet effective service structured around psalms, readings and the opportunity to reflect on these ancient texts that have tied Christians together for thousands of years still resonates with many Anglicans, and increasingly non-believers and those exploring their faith, today.
In this extended period of self-isolation and social distancing, it has become increasingly difficult for us to maintain a strict service of Choral Evensong while our Cathedral building is closed and our choir is unable to meet. We continue to explore ways of engaging our musicians to enrich not only our worship, but the wider devotional and cultural life of our community, but we also recognise the importance of people being able to interact with live worship, even if they do so from afar. Working within this framework, our Music & Liturgy team have devised a service of Organ Vespers that we will offer today, and for future Sundays until such time as we feel able to re-evaluate how the Cathedral continues to respond to the pandemic and the effects that it has on our worship life.
Evensong itself is derived from the combination of Vespers and Compline that Thomas Cranmer first devised when working on the Book of Common Prayer in the Sixteenth Century. The term ‘vespers’ has its origins in both Ancient Greek and Latin where it just meant ‘evening’, and services that recognise the images of day and night and their allegories within the wider Christian narrative can be found in almost all denominations. Although we might typically think of Vespers as being a Catholic office, the term Organ Vespers has its origins in Lutheranism, which itself has had a pre-established evening service for centuries. Indeed, many of Bach’s cantatas would originally have been heard within this context.
Our service this evening, while not new of itself, has drawn on a number of different influences in its construction. Those of you familiar with Evensong will, we hope, still recognise the overall shape of psalms and readings, interspersed with musical items and prayers which give time and space for reflection. Yet, there are also hints of the more traditional Catholic Vespers with the Magnificat taking centre-stage in what is an elaborate duet between voice and organ. For many centuries, there existed an ‘alternatim’ practice, where the ‘choir’ (often priests and monks) would chant the appointed texts, with organ improvisations interpreting the intermediate verses. This is a practice that, in practical terms, has all but fallen into abeyance, but which still exists in more academic circles. Thus, while you will not hear the entire Magnificat text verbally enunciated, each organ interlude, nevertheless, is inspired by the spirit and essence of the verse it replaces.
While the eventual format of this service is, at least in part, unconventional, we live in unconventional times where the challenge presented to us is to maintain our regular prayer life, to see and to seek familiarity, yet also to rejoice in the diversity and possibilities that what are difficult times for us all still present. Throughout the Bible, there are instances where the faithful had to adapt, to change, and be ready to accept that they couldn’t always do things the way they had done so, or in the ways in which they felt they should be done. Yet they still remained true to themselves and to their faith, and we at Christ Church continue to do all that we can to do likewise.
Below you will find the order for our service today. Our aim is to be able to live-stream this both visually and audibly and, all being well, you will see how to access that closer to the service time of 4pm (ET). If, for any reason, this does not work (this is new to us so we are still finding our technological feet), then you can still hear the service broadcast on Radio Ville Marie as normal with our Evensong services.
Organ Vespers for the Third Sunday of Easter
Officiant: Very Rev Bertrand Olivier, Dean of Montreal
Organist: Dr Jonathan White, Director of Religious Music
(Please note, this video will NOT work before 4pm (ET))
- Prelude: Organ Concerto in D minor after Antonio Vivaldi, BWV 596, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- [Without tempo indication]
- Welcome from the Dean, Very Rev Bertrand Olivier
- Responses (Plainsong)
V: O Lord open thou our lips
R: And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise
V: O God make speed to save us
R: O Lord make haste to help us
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
R: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
V: Praise ye the Lord
R: The Lord’s name be praised
- Psalm 48
- GREAT is the Lord, and highly to be praised : in the city of our God, even upon his holy hill.
- The hill of Sion is a fair place, and the joy of the whole earth : upon the north-side lieth the city of the great King; God is well known in her palaces as a sure refuge.
- For lo, the kings of the earth : are gathered, and gone by together.
- They marvelled to see such things : they were astonished, and suddenly cast down.
- Fear came there upon them, and sorrow : as upon a woman in her travail.
- Thou shalt break the ships of the sea : through the east-wind.
- Like as we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God : God upholdeth the same for ever.
- We wait for thy loving-kindness, O God : in the midst of thy temple.
- O God, according to thy Name, so is thy praise unto the world’s end : thy right hand is full of righteousness.
- Let the mount Sion rejoice, and the daughters of Judah be glad : because of thy judgements.
- Walk about Sion, and go round about her : and tell the towers thereof.
- Mark well her bulwarks, set up her houses : that ye may tell them that come after.
- For this God is our God for ever and ever : he shall be our guide unto death.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.
- Organ Reflection: Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
- First Lesson: Haggai 1:13 – 2:9Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God. In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king. In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.
- Magnificat: Magnificat Suite du Second Ton, Jean-Adam Guilain (c1680-c1739)
- My soul doth Magnify the Lord
- And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour
- Tierce en Taille (for He hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden : for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed)
- For He that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is His name
- Duo (and his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations)
- He hath shewn strength with his arm : He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts
- Basse de Trompette (He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek)
- He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich He hath sent empty away
- Trio (He remembering his mercy : hath holpen His servant Israel)
- As He promised to our forefather : Abraham and his seed for ever)
- Dialogue (Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost)
- As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.
- Petit Plein Jeu
- Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 3:10-17
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
- Organ Reflection: Organ Concerto in D minor after Antonio Vivaldi, BWV 596, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- Largo e spiccato
- Largo e spiccato
- Postlude: Organ Concerto in D minor after Antonio Vivaldi, BWV 596, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- [Without tempo indication]
- [Without tempo indication]
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