blog.sinden.org

Ordinary Time 2017

24 October 2015
Evensong - finding the love of

From the storied Chapel of King's College, Cambridge, England, comes an argument for the primacy of the daily office: Matins (Morning Prayer) and Evensong (Evening Prayer).

[The services of Matins and Evensong] are made out of layers of tradition which are much older. The medieval services drew on the patterns and content of worship in Christian churches of the first centuries. They in turn drew on the worship of the Jewish synagogues, which themselves depended on the traditional Jewish scriptures which Christians call the Old Testament.

Service Booklet. Introductory Note, p. 2. King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England.

Having placed the services in their historical context, the anonymous author of this introduction (could it possibly be Eric Milner-White?) then elucidates our place in this ancient pattern.

It follows that we need to do two things in order to enter into the spirit of these services. First we have to be patient and relaxed enough to allow a long tradition to have its say. Then we should allow our own thoughts and feelings to become closer to us than life outside admits. These two things are not separate. In the tradition there are, along with what is strange, strong expressions of our basic feelings about ourselves and God. And it is precisely the cool and ancient order of the services which gives a space and frame, as well as cues, for reflections on our regrets and hopes and gratitudes. The best analogy of it is in a relation of love. There, as here, we find ourselves by attending to another. So we may learn here a little of what we need and enjoy everywhere.

Service Booklet. Introductory Note, p. 2. King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England. Emphasis added.

It's not surprising to find "a relation of love" when we consider the Matins and Evensong liturgies, or really any liturgy of the church. Beauty is both intrinsic to and the goal of liturgy.

John O'Donohue, quoted on this blog earlier this month in Evensong - the surrender to, remarks on the human soul's hunger for beauty. "In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act."

This brings immediately to mind these words of Thomas Merton's No Man is an Island: "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." And do we not find and lose ourselves in the experience of love?

O'Donohue goes on to say that at its essence, beauty is love. (And not just any shade of love either, but Eros!)

To awaken and surrender. To find and lose. When we surrender and lose ourselves in the historic, authentic liturgy of the church, we awaken to love. One needs only to look to Christian hymnody to see what a archetypal spiritual image this is.

Perhaps the most famous words in this vein are those by John Newton

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.

A lesser-known hymn by Elizabeth Cosnett (b. 1936) gets at the contradiction in trying to "find" God.

Can we by searching find out God
or formulate his ways?
Can numbers measure what he is
or words contain his praise?

Although his being is too bright
for human eyes to scan,
his meaning lights our shadowed world
through Christ, the Son of Man.

Our boastfulness is turned to shame,
our profit counts as loss,
when earthly values stand beside
the manger and the cross.

We may there recognize his light,
may kindle in its rays,
find there the source of penitence,
the starting-point of praise.

There God breaks in upon our search,
makes birth and death his own;
he speaks to us in human terms
to make his glory known.

An anonymous 19th century hymn also gets at the paradox of finding the One who finds

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;
it was not I that found, O Savior true;
no, I was found of thee.

And in one of the grandest lines of hymnody, by the great Charles Wesley, we see that the goal of all this spiritual hide and seek is really so that we can lose ourselves in the beauty that is the subject and object of our worship.

Finish then thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be;
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee:
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.

And so it is with Evensong. If we attend to Evensong "in a relation of love", the great tradition of beauty which permeates this service will awaken us and cause us to surrender in the same act.

Evensong, in a noisy, demanding world, offers something rare. Our churches should offer it, and our congregations should be encouraged to cherish it.

Evensong should be loved.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

 
 
Comments:

Post a Comment

The page you're reading is part of Sinden.org

©MMXVII Sinden.org: a site for fun and prophet

Organ and church music, esoteric liturgics, and a site that changes color with the liturgical year.

Archetypes

Looking for Carol Spreadsheets?

Hungry? Try the Liturgical Guide to Altoids Consumption

Thirsty? Try the Tibia Liquida

The Eric Harding Thiman Fan Page: The greatest composer you've never even heard of.

Infrequently Asked Questions

picture of a chicken

Questions? Problems? email the sexton.

Archon

The author of this website is an organist whom the New York Times calls “repeatedly, insisting that he pay for his subscription”. He likes to read parking meters, music, Indianapolis Monthly, and weather forecasts in Celsius, particularly whilst wearing cassock and surplice. He serves lasagna, overhand, as an example to many, and on ecclesiastical juries. He takes photos, lots of dinner mints, and a little bit of time to get to know.

about

contact

Archbishops

Anglicans Online
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise
Book of Common Prayer
Brain Pickings
The Daily Office
The Lectionary Page
Sed Angli
Ship of Fools
The Sub-Dean's Stall
Vested Interest - Trinity Church in the City of Boston

Archenemies

Andrew Kotylo - Concert Organist
Aphaeresis
Anne Timberlake
Bonnie Whiting, percussion
conjectural navel gazing: jesus in lint form
Friday Night Organ Pump
Halbert Gober Organs, Inc.
in time of daffodils
Joby Bell, organist
Musical Perceptions
Musings of a Synesthete
My Life as Style, Condition, Commodity.
Nathan Medley, Countertenor
Notes on Music & Liturgy
The Parker Quartet
Roof Crashers & Hem Grabbers
Steven Rickards
That Which We Have Heard & Known
This Side of Lost
Wayward Sisters
Zachary Wadsworth | composer

Archenemies Aviary

@DanAhlgren
@dcrean
@ericthebell
@jwombat
@larrydeveney
@nmedley
@samanthaklein
@sopranist
@voxinferior

Arches

Advent (Medfield MA)
All Saints, Ashmont (Boston MA)
All Saints (Indianapolis IN)
Atonement (Bronx NY)
Broadway UMC (Indianapolis IN)
Cathedral of All Saints (Albany NY)
Christ Church (Bronxville NY)
Christ Church (Madison IN)
Christ Church (New Haven CT)
Christ Church Cathedral (Indianapolis IN)
Christ's Church (Rye NY)
Church of St. Stephen (Hamden CT)
Congregational (Belmont CA)
Coventry Cathedral (UK)
First UMC (Lancaster SC)
Gloria Dei ELCA (Iowa City IA)
Immanuel Lutheran (St Paul MN)
Immanuel Lutheran (Webster NY)
John Knox PCUSA (Houston TX)
St Andrew (Marblehead MA)
St Andrew's, Oregon Hill (Richmond VA)
St Bartholomew the Great, (London, England)
St James's (Lake Delaware NY)
St James's (Richmond VA)
St James Cathedral (Chicago IL)
St Mary's Cathedral (Memphis TN)
St Matthew and St Timothy (NYC)
St Paul's (Cleveland Heights OH)
St Paul's (Indianapolis IN)
St Paul's Cathedral (Buffalo NY)
St Paul's, K Street (Washington DC)
St Peter's (Lakewood OH)
St Peter's ELCA (NYC)
St Stephen's (Richmond VA
St Thomas (New Haven CT)
St Thomas ELCA (Bloomington IN)
Second PCUSA (Indianapolis IN)
Towson Presbyterian Church (MD)
Tremont Temple Baptist (Boston MA)
Trinity (Indianapolis IN)
Trinity on the Green (New Haven CT)

Auraling

BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong
New College (Oxford, England)
St John's College (Cambridge, England)
St Thomas (New York NY)

Argyle

Like the site? Buy the shirt.

Areyou . . .

selling diphthongs?
Yes, but they're not the kind you buy on Wheel of Fortune.

the owner of a bower at Bucklesfordberry?
Full daintily it is dight.

interested in touch lamps?
And fountain pens.

Archives
this site used to be better:

March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
December 2012
January 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017