SUNDAY: 11 am Mass at All Saints Margaret Street, London – my second visit to this famous Anglo-catholic church in the heart of downtown London. My first was in 1995, so my perspective (now, as a St. Mary Magian) is quite different. I found myself experiencing and observing the service in a very different way.  Today we celebrated both Dedication and a 50th wedding anniversary. This might seem strange but the Priest gave a very compelling sermon drawing many parallels between marriage and the church – and the perfect hymn concluded the service…”from heav’n he came and sought her to be his only bride” …you know the one.

All Saints is short and tall, so the congregation is very close to the action in the ornate chancel. The choir is 4 sops, 2 altos, 2 tenors and 2 basses with the organ situated behind the choir. These 10 excellent singers held their own through Parry’s “I was glad” and the music director, Paul Brough, conducted this piece with great sensitivity and welcome elasticity. The choir sings pianissimo passages particularly beautifully . I should mention the other choral music was Mozart Mass in D.

The ceremony was executed with reverence and precision. There is no Asperges, but an Entrance hymn before the Introit, and a confession before the Kyrie, the Gloria sung by the choir. The Sursum Corda is sung facing the people, but the rest of the Eucharistic prayer facing east. There are many candles – 16 on the altar – and some extraordinarily tall ones. To my SMM ears the congregational chants are sung at break neck speed, I was scrambling to keep up – but we were finished at 12:30 on the nose!

Share →

4 Responses to Feast of the Dedication

  1. David Hamilton says:

    A choir of 10 is just great when they can manage stuff like that!

    • In contrast – I went to Evensong at Westminster Abbey. The choir was pretty huge – 20 boys and I’d say six men on each side. It was gorgeous of course, and packed with people. I returned to All Saints for Evensong and Benediction which had many variations on what we’d expect in Toronto. This little choir of 10 sang “How lovely are thy dwellings” by Brahms and it sounded just right.

  2. Emily says:

    You do seem to be having ‘the time of your life’! Any learnings from the various choirs for Pax Christi Chorale as of yet? I do hope you are able to glean some gems for us. Best, Emily

    • I think you mean business management gems, but I think that can not be separated from artistic goals. One over-arching theme emerges – in the string quartet concert, in the cathedral services, in small town amateur productions, and in Percy Young’s house – summed up by what someone said to me in Wolverhampton concerning leadership and the success of building musical communities. They said “you really have to spend a long time in one place to get anything going” and there are many examples of that. I think that was true for Healey Willan who was at SMM for 40 years, and so many of the cathedral organists over here who simple toiled away with one community for decades. They developed a long standing tradition that has legs – that’s one thing we need to nurture in Canada for sure, from both the artistic and the management perspective. I’d say the main reasons that the musical standard here is so high is that groups have rigorous training, they stay together for a long time, they are supported by patrons and an appreciative and informed audience, and they practice!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *