Sunday 4 February saw us pay our first visit for many years to Wimborne Minster. Together with its choir, which visited us in November, we sang Choral Evensong before a sizeable congregation.
Wimborne is a town of a similar size to Romsey, yet its Minster is of a very different design from our Abbey. The quire is reached by climbing several steps and the sanctuary is situated higher still, providing space for a crypt housing its chained library.
Given the size of the choral forces, therefore, both choirs sang together at the head of the nave, much closer to the congregation than usual in the building. They enjoyed getting their teeth into Stanford’s Evening Service in B flat and Wood’s stirring anthem O thou, the central orb. Tempi were given greater urgency by David Gostick, Director of Music at the Minster, than is practical at the Abbey, in view of the Minster’s drier acoustic.
Psalm 2, sung antiphonally in part, gave the choirs chance to explore contrasts in dynamics, not least when there were words to declaim like ‘Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron’. Bernard Rose’s ever popular set of responses completed the musical offering.
The Minster generously provided tea before the service and another abiding memory for some: watching a police helicopter with a searchlight as we waited outside to process in for the service. This, it seems, is standard practice at the Minster and we were glad that, although cold, it wasn’t raining!