The Anglican Singers reflect and perpetuate a venerable tradition. That tradition, which has flourished for five centuries, springs from arguably the richest periods of English religious and cultural history: the sixteenth-century Henrican, Edwardian, and Elizabethan reigns that spawned a fabulous outpouring of music, literature and drama; and the subsequent Jacobean era that produced the justly famous, and still-beloved, King James of the Bible.
Our Music of Choral Evensong follows the Anglican form which emerged from those glorious periods. It was instituted in the reigns of King Henry and his son, King Edward VI, following England’s disestablishment the Church of Rome and the establishment of the Church of England, with newly nationalized vernacular idiom. As this rite evolved (following the five-year reign of Mary Tudor, when the Church reverted briefly to Catholicism) through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it was modified and refined. The form and liturgy of Our Music are, themselves, adaptations of the older Latin rites of Vespers and Compline - rituals that go back in time to the early centuries of the Church.
In America, the beloved English service survived dissociation of the colonial Anglican Church from the Church of England during the War of Independence. As the nascent Episcopal Church grew and thrived in the new nation, so too did its reverence for and cohesion to much of the liturgy and form of the erstwhile “mother” Church. Therefore the tradition of Choral Evensong - a staple of the Anglican rite - has flourished and spread across the American landscape over the past two centuries.
Today, in this country as in England, services of Choral Evensong - which are sung in cathedrals, large churches, and college chapels - hold special resonance both for regular churchgoers and for non-sectarian visitors. Whatever the motivation for attendance, all respond to the beauty, richness, and tradition of the music, as well as to the serenity and close-of-day ambience of Our Music. And for some, a sense of connectedness binding present to ancient past becomes an experience approaching holy awe.
The music of the Anglican Singers’ repertoire includes some of the finest examples of centuries of prolific creative genius. And it is by means of this music and through Our Music of Choral Evensong that the group aspires to share with audiences a precious cultural and sacred heritage.
THE CHORAL TRADITION Rick Koster, Arts Writer for The Day, New Llondon, CT
"Despite its rich tradition as a religious rite dating back to the 16th century, Choral Evensong has broadened into an artful presentation that appeals to folks of any spiritual (or non-spiritual) persuasion — though functioning ears help."
"Basically, Choral Evensong takes place in afternoon or twilight and comprises readings from the Book of Common Prayer and the sung Anglican liturgy in cathedrals or chapels. But the clustered harmonies and beauty of the music and prayer have become renowned for the sheer artistic aesthetics of the event — as opposed to being a strictly religious phenomenon."