On Sunday 8 November, the choirs of Christchurch Priory and Sherborne Abbey braved dismal weather to join the Abbey Choir in singing Choral Evensong. A 150-strong congregation attended the service that began with the 40 boys and 36 men processing in a long column up the nave.
After the first hymn, Judge eternal, throned in splendour, and the Preces by Humphrey Clucas, the combined choirs gave a spirited account of Psalm 46, God is our refuge and strength , which included two soaring descants for the trebles.
After the office hymn, Thy kingdom come, O God came Thomas Attwood-Walmisley’s Evening Service in D minor. The Magnificat alternated thundering verses for unision basses and tenors with much gentler, consoling passes for trebles and altos that led into a solo quartet at the words ‘He remembering his mercy’.
The Nunc Dimittis, after the New Testament lesson, continued the drama, building to an apparently rousing conclusion before coming to rest quietly, even enigmatically. John Ireland’s anthem Greater love hath no man than this: than that a man lay down his life for his friend was an poignant choice for Remembrance Sunday. Solos were sung confidently by trebles from Christchurch and Sherborne and one of Romsey’s baritones, Jon Sketchley.
After the hymn Come down, O Love divine , Tim Sledge, Vicar of Romsey, preached on how teamwork, whether on the sports field or the battlefield, inspires great acts of selflessness. The service concluded with the rousing hymn Crown him with many crowns and Edward Naylor’s final Responses.
Robert Fielding, the Abbey’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, comments, ‘Conducting the three choirs was a rewarding experience. They worked hard during the afternoon and produced a good, rounded tone. Choir mums provided an ample tea that I know was greatly appreciated by our visitors.’
Hugh Morris, Christchurch’s Organist, agreed. ‘We haven’t sung ‘away’ for a few years, so it was great to be invited to this service in Romsey. We look forward to strengthening our links with Romsey and Sherborne in future.’