Choral Music

The choral music resources below are mainly for use at BCP Evensong.  They are archive recordings of the choir and unless otherwise specified, ‘live’ performances taken from services during the last few years. Simply start the piece when you reach the point in question, and so let the music enrich your worship, as well as perhaps helping slow things down.

Evensong/Evening Prayer

One of the principal sung services in the Anglican choral tradition, Evensong is usually sung at St Mary’s twice a week during choir term, on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. The service, the liturgy of which comes from the Book of Common Prayer, is derived from a combination of the ancient monastic offices of Vespers and Compline. It is a combination of prayers, scripture and music, and follows the following rough order:

Preces • Psalm • Old Testament Lesson • Magnificat • New Testament Lesson • Nunc Dimittis • Creed • Responses • Anthem • Prayers

Depending on the day or season, a sermon, and one or more hymns may be inserted, for example on Sundays, and on major feasts. The service may also begin with the use of the penitential introduction. The service is usually reflective in nature, and the choir leads much of the worship, a large proportion of which is sung (the Preces & Responses, Psalm, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, Responses and Anthem) by the choir on behalf of the congregation.

You can use the buttons below to navigate directly to the desired section of recordings.


Preces & Responses

Choral Evensong usually begins with sung prayers by the priest (or a cantor) and choir. The Preces are sung either straight away, or on Sundays, and particularly during Advent and Lent, after a penitential introduction, confession, absolution, and the saying of a slightly shortened form of the Lord’s Prayer. The Responses, also known as the Lesser Litany, are sung after the Creed.

Preces by Bernard Rose
Responses by Bernard Rose
Preces by Humphrey Clucas
Responses by Humphrey Clucas

Psalms

The Psalms of David are one of the oldest and most famous parts of Biblical scripture, and one or more psalms (or portions of longer psalms) is appointed for each day to be said or sung at Morning and Evening Prayer. At St Mary’s, the choir usually sing this to Anglican Chant, a repeating formula of 7 or 14 bars of music which are used to recite the words of the psalm in a rhythm close to spoken word. The organ is often used to accompany and further colour the sound to support the meaning or mood of the psalm’s text.

Psalm 4
Psalm 119, verses 1-16
Psalm 119, verses 41-56

Canticles

Choral Evensong contains two regular canticles, which are both settings of passages from St Luke’s gospel. The Magnificat, also known as the Song of Mary, is one of the most ancient Christian hymns, and is taken from Luke 1:46-55, in which Mary exclaims her praise for the Lord during her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. The Nunc Dimittis, or Song of Simeon (Luke 2:28–32) is rendered by Simeon in the Temple during Christ’s Presentation there. Simeon takes the Christ-child in his arms and utters a hymn of praise to the Lord in thanksgiving for fulfilling the promise that he would see the Christ child before his death.

Magnificat in D, by George Dyson
Nunc Dimittis in D, by George Dyson
Magnificat ‘Collegium Regale’, by Herbert Howells
Nunc Dimittis ‘Collegium Regale’, by Herbert Howells
Nunc Dimittis in g, by Henry Purcell

Anthems and Motets

Anthems

Anthems are devotional pieces or settings of scripture normally sung by the choir as one of the final items of liturgy at Evensong, as well as at Eucharists, and are normally chosen to fit the liturgical season or a particular feast, or because they pick up on Biblical themes from the readings or Gospel passage for the day. Below is a varied selection presented in alphabetical order by composer.

Os justi, by Anton Bruckner
Sing Joyfully, by William Byrd
Bring us O Lord God, by William Harris
Like as the Hart, by Herbert Howells
Crux fidelis, by John IV of Portugal
Beati quorum via, by Charles Villiers Stanford
Caelos ascendit hodie, by Charles Villiers Stanford
Ascribe unto the Lord, by Samuel Sebastian Wesley

Mass Settings

The principal Sunday morning service of St Mary’s, like the vast majority of churches in the Church of England, is a Eucharist, which is also known as Mass, or Holy Communion. The service contains a mixture of elements in the following order:

Gathering Liturgy of the Word Prayers Celebration of the Eucharist Dismissal

During the service, hymns are normally also sung, and there is a sermon on Sundays and other principal feasts. One of the principal musical elements sung by the choir during a Eucharist is the mass setting itself. This consists of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus & Agnus Dei, and this set of movements is usually known as the Mass Ordinary. During the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent, the Gloria is omitted. At St Mary’s, we often use settings in Latin, and the Kyrie is almost invariably in the original Greek.

Kyrie from Messe en Sol by Francis Poulenc
Gloria from Messe en Sol by Francis Poulenc
Sanctus & Benedictus from Messe en Sol by Francis Poulenc
Agnus Dei from Messe en Sol by Francis Poulenc
Kyrie from Missa ‘Alma redemptoris mater’ by Tomàs Luis de Victoria
Sanctus & Benedictus from Missa ‘Alma redemptoris mater’ by Tomàs Luis de Victoria
Agnus Dei from Missa ‘Alma redemptoris mater’ by Tomàs Luis de Victoria
Kyrie from Missa ‘Bell Amfitrit’ Altera’ by Orlando de Lassus
Sanctus & Benedictus from Missa ‘Bell Amfitrit’ Altera’ by Orlando de Lassus
Agnus Dei from Missa ‘Bell Amfitrit’ Altera’ by Orlando de Lassus

Disclaimer: The music on this page is taken from services of divine worship, and copyright material is licenced under the terms of CCLI Licence #1220943, and PRS Limited Online Music Licence.
℗ & © 2020, The Choir of St Mary’s, Nottingham. All rights reserved.