Friday Evensong at St Paul’s-in-the-Camp, 6.15 for 6.30pm.

EDIT, FRIDAY AFTERNOON: It turns out St Paul’s are having Evensong tonight after all, but didn’t tell anyone about it until late morning. While I don’t wish to compete with them, I think we should go ahead and have Evensong outside anyway.
END OF EDIT

On Friday we will have Evensong outside St Paul’s. While the Cathedral has said they will be open for worship, I don’t believe they are having Evensong tomorrow, so I want to go ahead with this. It’s the day for St Simon and St Jude, apostles.

Meet at 6.15pm for 6.30; outside M&S seems to be a reasonable place for it, although we may need to move (especially if there are enough of us to obstruct the walkway).

You can print a copy of the liturgy from here ON THE DAY or from here today (Thursday). Alternately you can follow along online using the same links on a smartphone or using one of the various Common Worship smartphone apps.

The really simple way to do it will be to bring a Book of Common Prayer, though. I have a small number of spares. The Psalm will be Psalm 119.1-16. The Old Testament reading will be 1 Maccabees 2.42-66 and the New Testament reading will be Jude 1-4,17-25.

I did not choose these readings; I want to use the same ones that will be on the Church of England website, for ease of letting others follow along at home or elsewhere. Readers for the readings will be assigned when we meet.

We will sing the psalm and canticles from the Parish Psalter. If you have a Parish Psalter please bring it, even if you don’t sing! These are harder to get hold of than the BCP and I only have a small number.

Unless a conductor volunteers in the next couple of hours, we will stick to the ferial responses. Please bring music to these if you have it; it’s hard to get hold of online and I only have a small number of copies. I will cantor if there are no clergy there who are willing/able to do so.

We will use the same hymns as on Sunday and Wednesday. If you want to print the words to these yourself they are available in .pdf format here. If you want to bring a hymnal to sing harmony I prefer New English Hymnal (note that some of the words are different).

If you don’t have any of these bits of pieces, you can still come! Really. You can look over my shoulder, or someone else’s, or participate in a more reflective manner.

It would be helpful to have a rough idea how many people will be coming along, so if you are planning on it please do leave a comment here. Anonymous comments are fine.

If there are enough singers we might do an anthem — same one as yesterday — but be aware that if numbers are low this will be cut.

Summary:
6.15 for 6.30pm outside M&S, St. Paul’s-in-the-Camp
Liturgy here on the day.
Bring BCP, Parish Psalter, and ferial responses if you have them.
Further updates from @artsyhonker and @FlashEvensong on Twitter.

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Wednesday: St Paul’s-in-the-Camp Flashmob Evensong

On Wednesday we will have Evensong outside St Paul’s — unless the cathedral has opened for worship again, of course, in which case we may as well join them inside.

Meet at 5pm for 5.15; outside M&S seems to be a reasonable place for it, although we may need to move (especially if there are enough of us to obstruct the walkway).

You can print a copy of the liturgy from here ON THE DAY or from here today (Tuesday). Alternately you can follow along online using the same links on a smartphone or using one of the various Common Worship smartphone apps.

The really simple way to do it will be to bring a Book of Common Prayer, though. I have a small number of spares. The Psalm will be Psalm 119:145-176. The Old Testament reading will be @ Kings 9:1-16. The New Testament reading will be Acts 27:1-26. I did not choose these readings; I want to use the same ones that will be on the Church of England website, for ease of letting others follow along at home or elsewhere. Readers for the readings will be assigned when we meet.

We will sing the psalm and canticles from the Parish Psalter. If you have a Parish Psalter please bring it, even if you don’t sing! These are harder to get hold of than the BCP and I only have a small number. Ditto the music for the ferial responses. I will cantor if there are no clergy there who are willing/able to do so.

We will use the same hymns as on Sunday, mostly because I have about 20 hymn sheets and I don’t want to waste them. If you want to print the words to these yourself they are available in .pdf format here. If you want to bring a hymnal to sing harmony I prefer New English Hymnal (note that some of the words are different).

If you don’t have any of these bits of pieces, you can still come! Really. You can look over my shoulder, or someone else’s, or participate in a more reflective manner.

If you want to join the choir for the anthem please contact @FlashEvensong on Twitter, who is organising that bit. I’ve said that if we don’t have at least two strong readers per voice part it’s better not to do the anthem. There is a poll here for you to sign up.

It would be helpful to have a rough idea how many people will be coming along, so if you are planning on it please do leave a comment here (even if you aren’t planning to sing the anthem). Anonymous comments are fine.

Summary:
5 for 5.15pm outside M&S, St. Paul’s-in-the-Camp
Liturgy here on the day.
Bring BCP, Parish Psalter, and ferial responses if you have them.
Contact @FlashEvensong for choral anthem enquiries, poll here.

Flashmob your own liturgy

Dashing this off very quickly, but here are some online resources for putting together your own flashmob services:

BCP Mattins

CW Morning Prayer

BCP Evensong

Compline (Trad language)

Compline (Modern language)

The Oremus Hymnal

St Paul’s Evensong at OccupyLSX

I didn’t think, when I got up this morning, that I would somehow wind up leading a BCP Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The cathedral has had Occupy LSX, a protest camp, on their doorstep for the past week. Last weekend the Canon Chancellor, Revd Dr Giles Fraser, told the police to leave the protesters alone. As the week has worn on and the tents have stayed up, the cathedral has been operating on a reduced schedule, and on Friday the Dean issued a statement saying it would have to close until further notice.

I have no strong criticism of the cathedral closing to sightseers; there is a point at which keeping things ticking over stops making economic sense, and though I am uncomfortable with entry fees for cathedrals I cannot condemn them without calling into question the legitimacy of thousands of smaller, parish-based fundraising efforts. Fair game.

But a cathedral is more than architecture and establishment. Cathedrals exist to serve the local community, as well as to support parish churches in their work. Their primary task is of public worship, and it is difficult to see how Occupy LSX are a significant threat to that. The supposed health and safety reasons for closure given by the cathedral haven’t, to my knowledge, been specified in a way that would allow the protesters to improve matters, and so things have come to a sort of impasse.

Practising the organ this morning I half-joked on Twitter about being tempted to turn up at St Paul’s and hold Evensong myself, if they weren’t letting people in for services. Then I went back to practising, it being one of those mornings where I felt like I had someone else’s fingers and feet, and the choir turned up and we rehearsed, and there was a service and afterwards tea and toast. I checked my phone before heading home and there seemed to be some positive response to the idea of an outdoor Evensong, and I began to think more seriously about it.

I’m accustomed to Evensong services of varying sizes. I knew that without any real idea of who was going to turn up, I wouldn’t want to plan anything too complicated.. but there definitely wasn’t time to select metrical psalms, so we’d have to do simple Anglican Chant (and hope for enough people who can make sense of it for it to work) or even just said psalms and canticles. I made a few more tentative tweets, putting out feelers to see who else might be interested. I tried to contact both St Paul’s, and Occupy LSX, through Twitter, and got no response — fair enough, both are busy organisations. But people who had been involved in the protest, and various clergy and churchy types online, seemed encouraging, so I decided to go for it.

At 12.12 I tweeted “Right. Evensong at @OccupyLSX outside St Pual’s, 3.45 for 4pm. Please bring Parish Psalter & BCP if you have them.” From there it was a matter of choosing hymns with words in the public domain and printing them, providing links to those and to the BCP liturgy for the day through the C of E website, making sure I had the readings and the Collect for the 21st Sunday after Trinity to hand, and the sort of low-grade terror at what I was doing that you might expect, complete with wildly beating heart and trembling hands. A lot of people were generally supportive but simply unable to get there due to geography or prior commitments. But people said they would come, and I turned up and they found me. Our numbers were small but mighty, and included an atheist and a Roman Catholic, as a typical Evensong at St Paul’s well might! Apparently there had been some sort of praying and singing not too long before my arrival, but the clergyman involved was busy being interviewed by someone with a camera and I had come over all shy, so we decided just to get on with it. We chose an almost-quiet spot outside M&S and did just that.

And it was good. Christ is made the sure foundation was our introit, chosen because I love it and it is a good length, and one or two people did join us as we sang. There was a bit of informal awkwardness going from one bit of the service to the next — I nearly forgot the psalm, think of it! — but we chanted psalms and canticles in something resembling unison, and the ferial responses were fairly straightforward. The readings were Ecclesiastes Chapters 11 and 12, and St Paul’s 2nd Letter to Timothy, Chapter 2, verses 1-7. One annoying photographer insisted on trying to ask us questions during the service, which I found a bit difficult — I tried to explain we weren’t finished, I think someone else went and talked to him and then came and joined us again. Instead of sermon (the epistle said it all with “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”) or anthem we had Guide me, O thou great Jehovah and after the “Prayer for the Clergy and People” (rather apt I thought) and “A Prayer of St Chrysostom” and the Grace we sang O God, our help in ages past and went our respective ways — some of us to the pub, to slake the thirst after righteousness (I’ll get my coat), others off home or to other parts of the protest.

So, that was a pretty strange day. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Transcendence

I’ve just been to Greenbelt, a Christian arts festival held at Cheltenham Race Course. There is music, but I didn’t get to much of that, tending instead to be drawn to talks, workshops and worship.

The days are already merging into a sort of blur, but some things stand out.
One of the most memorable and perhaps transcendent experiences for me was an Orthodox Vespers on Sunday night. The room was a small space near the top of the grandstand, and crowded. The east-facing windows looked out over the hills, glowing gently in the sunset. Two icons served as a visual focus for prayers.
There was a short introduction before the start of the service. We were invited to stand, as the Orthodox do, to join them in their prayers, and gently reminded to think of the choir as praying, rather than performing.
The entire service was chanted or sung, in English — nothing was spoken. We weren’t given any service sheets, which left my hands relaxed and my eyes free to look at the icons or out at the beautiful horizon. The portions sung by the choir were beautifully simple and reverent, and repetitive enough that the rest of us could quite easily join in with “Lord, have mercy.”
So we did, again and again.
It was very moving, and 45 minutes flew by. I can’t speak for others but I was caught up, absorbed, really not thinking of the technical details of the music or liturgy at all after a while. Afterward, I thanked a choir member, and she said it was wonderful that we sang, too, and that her daughter had said it was something special, that there were “so many prayers”.
I sat for a while, pondering, with the sound of the repeated song ringing in my ears.
Then I went to an entirely different service. This one, called “Transendence — an Ancient Future Mass“, was using the Common Worship liturgy — with a bit of a twist. Like the Orthodox Vespers, large parts of the service were sung, and there was near-constant music. Like the Orthodox Vespers, there was a strong visual component. Like the Orthodox Vespers, there were no paper service sheets.
But my impression was not one of reverence and awe but of busy-ness. I found the electronic music more disruptive than meditative, with some disjunct transitions between sections. I found it hard to sing along when the clergy and choir had microphones (with significant amplification) and I did not. I found the visual displays were also distracting, constantly moving, and as all the words for the service were projected onto screens (and it was too dark for me to have been able to read a service sheet even if I had one) I didn’t have the option of looking away. The very best parts of that service, for me, were when the background music dropped away and the choir sang a capella polyphony… but that wasn’t something that I was able to participate in. Overall, my experience wasn’t one of transcendence at all, but of being overly aware of a liturgy which could have been much simpler.
The thing that troubles me about this is that I can see how it could have worked. I think that the electronic music would have been alright had it been selected in such a way that it didn’t jar with the other music; I think that the images on the screens would have been much more effective if they hadn’t moved as often or as fast. I understand the need to use microphones with so much going on, but much simpler music at a lower volume would have meant that the human voices could have been amplified much less (though in that particular space, full of carpet and not acoustically kind, some amplification would probably still have been necessary).
I mustn’t judge too harshly, as I did arrive late. There were elements of the service that worked. There were physical intercession stations of a sort; I didn’t visit all three, but some people did. The darkness of the space gave people freedom to sit or kneel, stand or even prostrate themselves, and being able to do that without worrying about what everyone else is up to is a strength. Maybe the whole thing works better in York Minster.
The Common Worship liturgy is far more familiar to me than the Orthodox Vespers liturgy. I’d never been to the latter at all and I attend the former most Sundays. But the intimacy and simplicity of the Vespers service made me feel very much at home, so that phrases I’d never heard were somehow familiar enough to become prayers.
I’m not going to run off and join the Orthodox church, but I do want to think about how to develop that sort of beautiful reverence and simplicity in music at St Andrew’s.