16 November 2008

Evensong for Pentectost XXVII

Evensong from the BBC comes from Hereford Cathedral. If your musical tastes runs for the "modern," then this is the Evensong for you. The canticles are the "Hereford Canticles" composed by Herbert Howells for Canterbury Cathedral in 1966 (Okay, perhaps 'modern' is the wrong term!). It's all too modern for me (music died in 1750 as far as I'm concerned), but the choir is excellent and you really should hear this service.

But, like this transitory life, if one just "endures to the end," one will be rewarded. In this case with Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537 for the postlude. Trust me, folks, there is nothing like a JSB fugue! When I enter the eternity, Bach better be playing a fugue.

Hereford is unique in that it is one of the few cathedrals in the world that have never been monastic. Hereford was never associated with any religious order and its chapter has always been secular priests. They employed the Vicars Choral, a body of clergy who lived a collegiate life in the Vicars Cloister, to sing the daily cathedral services for them.

Although there has been a place of worship on the site occupied by the cathedral, nothing of those churches remain. The oldest part of the cathedral, the Bishop's Chapel, dates from the early 11th century. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Elhelbert (who was buried in the cathedral and is in my genealogy, not that anyone cares much anymore) and The Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the cathedral are housed is one of the oldest maps in the world (Mappa Mundi) and one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta. I have to say that standing there and looking at the Magna Carta, in a building dedicated to the worship of Christ in the 11th Century, I was overcome with the historical significance of that document. Both make Turo and Falls Church's claim of antiquity null and void.

For those of you on dial up and unable to listen to the BBC's Evensong, the postlude is below courtesy of You Tube. God bless You Tube, too!