Our tour is now well underway. On Monday we sang Evensong at Newcastle Cathedral to a small congregation; heavy rain all day made it feel more like November outdoors!
Matthew Culley provided a confident start to George Dyson’s Evening Service in F. There were also some evocative passages in the anthem, Edward Bairstow’s setting of the compline hymn Save us, O Lord. We are grateful to the Dean and Chapter both for inviting us to sing and for providing a reception for us after the service.
This afternoon, we sang in Hexham Abbey to a congregation larger than expected by our hosts; with a number of Abbey parishioners joining our loyal supporters, they had to put more chairs in the Quire before we started the service!
Hexham Abbey, like Romsey Abbey, was built in the Norman style, with extensions and alterations following over ensuing centuries. It is, however, divided in two by a screen on which its imposing organ sits. This was installed just 26 years ago, replacing an earlier instrument acquired from Carlisle Cathedral.
We sang in the ancient Quire, dominated by a crucifix high above the sanctuary rail. Our offering comprised Percy Whitlock’s lively Evening Service in D and Ernest Bullock’s setting of Isaac Watt’s hymn, Give us the wings of faith. Both works gave us ample scope to demonstrate sensitivity to the text and changes of musical mood.
It was interesting and very enjoyable to sing in an Abbey similar to our own, We are grateful to the Vicar, Canon Graham Usher; the Organist, Michael Haynes, who played splendidly for us; and everybody else at Hexham Abbey who made us very welcome.
On Friday, we begin a weekend of services at Carlisle Cathedral. Our friends walking Hadrian’s Wall, meanwhile, are making very good progress; tomorrow they begin their descent towards Carlisle and the coast beyond.
Below are a few photos taken in Hexham Abbey; click on an small image to view a larger one.