This Sunday Fr Martin Magill visited choral evensong at St George’s, High Street, for his ecumenical tithing. He describes a restful and moving service where he had a chance to renew an old acquaintance.
St George’s is always worth a visit, for the beauty of the building and its quality music alone – quite apart from any spiritual experiences or friendships one might encounter.
St George’s is celebrating its Bicentenary from 2013-2016, and we can all look forward to its first Bicentenary Annual Lecture on Thursday 8 May 2014 , starting at 7.30pm on ‘The Reformation – this stupid and pernicious tragedy’? by the acclaimed Rev Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, followed by a discussion chaired by Dr William Crawley.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: Choral Evensong in St George’s, High Street
This weekend I worshipped in St George’s church in High Street, Belfast. I had not been there for a while and the time suited me. On the way in to the service, which was choral evensong, I met a retired rector and his wife whom I have known for some years and the chance meeting allowed me to renew acquaintances with them. This opportunity to meet and talk to people before and after a service is one of the positives of church.
As I sat in the church waiting for the service to begin, there was a lovely spirit of quiet and calm and that was just what I needed. This was then followed by some quiet organ music.
The service was led by Fr Brian Stewart, the rector of St George’s, and the choir was the Chamber Choir – Ladies. The opening hymn was “The God of love my Shepherd is”. The psalm, which was sung by the choir, was psalm 31 and was followed by a scripture reading from Micah 7. The choir then sang the Magnificat. That was followed by a reading from James 5 and the singing of the Nunc Dimittis. The choir then sang a number of collects before singing the Holst Ave Maria.
Fr Stewart then led prayers which had a mothering theme, including one which acknowledged the Church as mother. We remembered the Mother of Christ and all holy women of scripture. We prayed for our loved ones and all dear to us, and we prayed for all in any sorrow or sickness.
The final hymn was “God, that madest earth and heaven” and this was followed by a prayer with a mothering theme and the final blessing.
On the parish website, this is what it said about the service: “5 p.m. – Choral Evensong. A dignified service using traditional language and the King James Version of the Bible, with superb music from the choir”. In my experience of Evensong at St George’s we got “what it said on the tin”.
(Image from http://stgeorges.connor.anglican.org/)