November has proved to be a busy month. Three of the pieces we have been learning this term received their first performances. At the All Souls Bereavement Service on Monday 5 November, we sang the Funeral Ikos by John Tavener; its style is heavily influenced by the musical idiom of the Greek Orthdox church. On Remembrance Sunday, as well as singing at the Civic Service of Remembrance in the morning, we had a home fixture with Sherborne Abbey Choir; for this Evensong, we learned Haydn’s dramatic anthem Insanæ et vanæ curæ (Vain and raging cares invade our minds).
On 25 November, Christ the King, we sang the Evening Service in E minor by Pelham Humfrey, a contemporary of Purcell. Only 27 when he died, he had studied music in France and was described by Pepys as ‘an absolute monsieur…full of form and confidence and vanity’. With several verses for trios and quartets, it was quite a challenge but the boys in particular rose to it very ably.
And so December, our busiest month of the year, is almost upon us once more. We begin it with the Advent Procession on Sunday 2 December; this year, for the first time, the Girls’ Choir is taking part: they will be singing the Advent antiphons.
The girls are on duty again for the Christingle Service on 9 December and the Carols for George concert on Saturday 15 December, when they are joined by the boys who, with the men, go carol-singing at both Grove Place and Romsey Hospital, in addition to taking their customary role in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on 19 December. One piece to look out for at this service is John Tavener’s Christmas acclamation, God is with us. It should make quite an impact. We all come together again at the Sung Eucharist on Christmas morning.