At Saint Thomas, Choral Evensong typically occurs four times a week from September through May: Sundays at 4pm and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm. But there are many exceptions, so please check the worship calendar. When we have Choral Evensong on a weekday, it replaces Evening Prayer in the Chantry Chapel.
Based on the services held daily in the medieval Church, Choral Evensong as arranged in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England has been sung regularly since the sixteenth century. Many people who are new to worship at Saint Thomas enjoy the contemplative feel of Evensong.
Evensong is part of what is called the Daily Office, a bi-yearly rotation of lessons from Scripture and a monthly rotation of psalms woven between consistent prayers and canticles. The Daily Office is said twice a day: Morning Prayer (or Mattins, when sung), and Evening Prayer (or Evensong, when sung). If you attend daily, you'll notice that the scripture readings often pick up where the previous day left off. The Daily Office is designed to expose the worshipper to the bulk of Holy Scripture over a two-year cycle.
The structure of weekday Choral Evensong is generally as follows:
- The Introit, sung by the choir immediately after they process in.
- The Responses, sung by the Officiant (a priest) and the choir.
- A Psalm or Psalms appointed for the day, sung by the choir.
- The First Lesson appointed for the day, read by a priest.
- A setting of the Magnificat sung by the choir.
- The Second Lesson appointed for the day, read by a priest.
- A setting of the Nunc dimittis sung by the choir.
- The Apostle's Creed, chanted by the choir and congregation.
- Prayers sung by a priest and the choir.
- The Evening Collects, chanted by a priest.
- Greetings by a priest, directed to the congregation.
- An anthem appropriate for the day, sung by the choir.
- A prayer said by a priest.
- A hymn sung by the choir and congregation.
At Saint Thomas, Sunday Choral Evensong follows the format listed above, except that Sunday Evensongs include a sermon and more hymns. Also, there is no Mass following Sunday Evensongs, but there is almost always a Mass following weekday Evensongs.
You can see the the text of many of the items in the list above in the service card, which is posted in the resources section of this page and also in the resources section of every Choral Evensong webcast. Also, by looking at details for specific services on the calendar or by downloading the Music List on this website, you can see which settings of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis will be sung on any particular date.
If a major feast day falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, Choral Evensong is replaced with a weekday Festal Eucharist, which is more similar to a Sunday morning service than to Choral Evensong.