In only their second-ever choral evensong, the boys of QE’s Chamber Choir shone amid the splendour of Southwark Cathedral.
They sang music by composers including Mozart and Stanford, while three QE organists took their places at the console of the cathedral’s mighty 1897 instrument.
The boys sang to a congregation that included staff, governors, parents and friends of the School, as well as members of the public.
The cathedral service followed their first-ever choral evensong at Barnet parish church in the autumn and their appearance in the service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on 24th March, the 450th anniversary of the founding of the School.
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “The boys were very impressive and the whole service was remarkable, given that this was only their second-ever evensong.
“The experience of singing at Westminster Abbey had stood them in good stead, so they were unfazed by the more intimate (but still large) scale of Southwark Cathedral.”
The service followed the centuries-old pattern of Anglican choral evensong and took place in a building that has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,000 years.
The organ music played before the service by Year 7’s Zach Fernandes, Year 9’s Noah Morley and Year 11’s Joel Swedensky was written by Bach, Pachelbel, Böhm, Green and Stanley.
During the service, the choir sang the introit – the famous hymn, Abide with Me, with lyrics by Henry Francis Lyte and music by William Henry Monk – as well as pieces by Philip Radcliffe, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (B flat, Millington responses) and Mozart (Ave Meum Corpus).
The service included QE’s School prayer, reproduced below.
QE Director of Music Ruth Partington said: “Evensong presents an opportunity for the Chamber Choir to really challenge themselves and experience a unique musical tradition. There was a great deal of complexity in many of the responses and anthems sung, and our singers acquitted themselves very well.
“The three budding organists who played before the service are already highly accomplished on an instrument that all of them only took up this year: you would not have known that there was a Year 7 boy playing!” QE is now offering organ lessons in partnership with Barnet’s parish church, St John the Baptist.
“It was super to see some visitors who had just wandered in stay for the duration of the service. There was lovely feedback from the Cathedral’s volunteers. I am grateful to the Cathedral clergy and staff for their welcome,” Miss Partington added.
“The Music department hope to continue this programme in future years, singing a couple of such services each academic year. It forms part of the huge variety of musical opportunities on offer to the boys at QE.”
The School prayer
O Lord God, the Maker and Builder of every house not made with hands, we give thee thanks for this School in which we have our share.
Give thy blessing, we beseech thee, to all this our body, to the Head Master, to the teachers, to the boys, and to those who minister our needs.
Inspire us, O Lord, so to do our work today that, even as we are being helped by the remembrance of the loyal lives of those who came before us, so our faithfulness in thy service may aid those who shall take our places.
Remember, O Lord, for good, all who have gone forth from this School, to labour elsewhere in thy kingdom. Grant that both they, and we, may fulfil thy purpose for us in this life, and finally may attain thine everlasting kingdom. Amen.