On 2 May 2004, for the third time in as many years, we joined our colleagues at Sherborne Abbey to sing a Choral Evensong as part of the music festival being held there over the weekend. It was our first excursion under the direction of Robert Fielding, Abbey Organist since January.
The centrepiece of the service was S.S. Wesley’s rarely performed anthem, The Wilderness, a setting of verses from the prophecy of Isiah. The extended solos were sensitively sung, especially those by the solo treble in Sherborne Abbey Choir. We enjoyed, for our part, the vigorous choral passages at the heart of the piece leading to the peroration at ‘And the ransomed of the Lord‘.
The canticles and responses – respectively, Stanford in C and Bernard Rose’s set for Magdalen College, Oxford – saw us on familiar ground and we were all able to enjoy the wider dynamics that a larger choir is able to produce.
The Vicar of Sherborne, Canon Eric Woods, presided at the service and gave us a warm welcome, noting the strong ties that has been forged between the two choirs over the past few years. He was joined on this occasion by the Bishop of Sherborne, a born communicator who delivered a brief yet memorable sermon.
We look forward to welcoming our colleagues from Sherborne back to Romsey Abbey later this year.