Sherborne Abbey’s fine organ – an 1856 Gray & Davidson instrument – underpinned an enjoyable and imposing Evensong, jointly sung by the Abbey Choirs of Sherborne and Romsey on Sunday 6 May. Played by Peter Bray, it provided a sonorous introduction to both Henry Balfour Gardiner’s Evening Hymn and the passage ‘And to be the glory’ in the Nunc Dimittis from Herbert Murrill’s Evening Service in E, not to mention a rousing concluding voluntary.

The choirs were led by the Director of Music at Sherborne Abbey, Paul Ellis. He placed particular emphasis on dynamics and articulation in the unaccompanied parts of the service: the Responses by Bernard Rose, the section ‘He remembering’ in the Magnificat and the quiet second verse of the Balfour Gardiner anthem that evokes ‘the phantoms that terrify’. In so doing, he successfully blended the two choirs with their differing approaches to the works in the service. The concluding Amens in the anthem were positively sepulchral.

The service came halfway through this year’s Sherborne Abbey Festival and a large congregation, from Sherborne, Romsey and elsewhere, was present. They were able to join in a couple of rousing hymns, including Sun of my Soul, thou Saviour dear. The skies outside were grey for the first time in nearly a month, ironically enough, but the choristers nevertheless enjoyed a lively game of football on the green before the service. The local Mother’s Union once again kindly provided a much-appreciated tea afterwards.

The party from Romsey looks forward to laying on football and tea – plus a little singing – for their friends from Sherborne later in the year.

Rehearsing before the service

Football on the green

Processing out after the service