Holy Week got off to a busy start for Romsey Abbey Choir on Palm Sunday (5 April). The 10am Sung Eucharist morning began in the sunshine with a blessing of Palms by the Vicar, the Reverend Tim Sledge, after which the choir led the congregation into the Abbey for the service. The anthem later in the service by Tudor composer Thomas Weelkes, Hosanna to the son of David, recalled the adulation that all too soon turned to condemnation.
The preacher at Choral Evensong was the Very Reverend Trevor Beeson, formerly Dean of Winchester Cathedral, who addressed outward show versus inward integrity. The music included Anton Bruckner’s haunting motet Christus factus est (Christ was obedient even unto death) and Charles Wood’s Evening Service in F for double choir.
This week is one of the busiest in the year for the choir, which is singing every evening from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. The music ranges from timeless plainsong sung by the men at the Easter Vigil on Saturday, through Renaissance polyphony sung by the full choir on Good Friday – Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus and Palestrina’s setting of The Reproaches – all the way through to the Twentieth Century and the jubilant Messe Solennelle by Jean Langlais.
Robert Fielding, Organist and Master of the Choristers, comments: ‘The Langlais mass – usually only tackled by cathedral choirs – is a new, exciting addition to the Abbey choir’s repertoire. The boys and men have worked really hard this term, singing more music and to a high standard. On Ash Wednesday they sang the Allegri Miserere , with its ethereal top Cs for solo treble, for the first time. I’m really proud of them. We now look forward to the summer term, including our tour in Belgium at the end of May, with confidence.’