On Saturday 11 February, Romsey Abbey resounded with music from three choirs. It played host to the inaugural Southern Greater Churches Festal Evensong, which was attended by choristers from Christchurch Priory and St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, as well as ourselves.
The Greater Churches Network, to which the Abbey belongs, brings together a number of large churches from around the country to provide help and mutual support in dealing with the special opportunities presented by running a ‘cathedral-like’ church within the organisational and financial structure of a parish church.
Our guests arrived at 2.30pm and after a rehearsal led by Robert Fielding, the boys braved freezing temperatures to play football outside. This was followed by a tea laid on by Romsey choir parents and wives.
The afternoon concluded with a well-attended Choral Evensong at 5.30pm. The music included the Evening Service in A by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford – full of contrast and concluded with a rousing, antiphonal Gloria Patri – and Sir Henry Balfour Gardiner’s atmospheric Evening Hymn.
Addressing the assembled choirs before they departed, the Revd Tim Sledge thanked everybody involved and remarked, ‘I think this is the start of something big’. We look forward to getting together again with friends from Christchurch, Bristol and other fellow Greater Church choirs in the near future.