You know you’re fanatical about Evensong when you’re prepared to travel at least two hours for a service that lasts only one. This evening I attended Evensong at the wonderful St. Bavo church in Haarlem, sung by the Anglican Singers from Amsterdam and the choirs of the Anglican Church Haarlem. Most of them sung together recently in Ely Cathedral and two of them I know from the St. Nicholas Chorale in Amsterdam. Does that still make sense, dear reader? If it doesn’t, don’t worry – the same puzzling effect of assorted Anglicans was created by all the different colours of robes and medals. For one thing, this patchwork-like variety didn’t show in the choir sound, which was homogenous and confident and had a nice clear pronunciation. The repertoire was very elegant, with no real highlights, except maybe the ethereal Introit by Jackson or the Response “and take not thy Holy Spirit from us” which had some lovely dissonances, colouring the despair behind this pleading phrase. The famous Müller organ once again stole my heart, especially the high flute-like sounds. You have to hear it to believe it (the same goes for the sometimes glorious echo of the church).
Oh yes, and we got to sing two very nice hymns: O Worship the King, which has a melody I know really well, and How Shall I Sing that Majesty which I know in a completely different version by Libera – so I had to reacquaint myself with the tune but most of the words were overly familiar. So it was great to be able to sing them in an actual service, amidst a strong and enthusiastic congregation, I might add (maybe they were regulars at the protestant St. Bavo church, and therefore more used to congregational singing, who knows).
I have a hunch this was not the last time I made the trip north, and hopefully also not the last time my journey was accompanied by such spectacular clouds and a blazing sunset.
Introit: Justorum animae (Gabriel Jackson)
Procession hymn: O Worship the King (NEH 433)
Preces (Michael Walsh)
Psalm 136 (Jonathan Bielby)
Canticles: Evening Service in E minor (William S. Lloyd Webber)
Lesser Litany, Lord’s Prayer, Collects (Michael Walsh)
Anthems: Christ whose glory fills the skies (Harold Darke) & Litany to the Holy Spirit (Peter Hurford)
Closing hymn: How Shall I Sing that Majesty (NEH 699/373)
Organ voluntary: Voluntary in A minor for Double Organ (William Croft)
Conductor: Martin van Bleek
Organ: James Pollard