​University of the South Choir to Perform Evensong on Sunday

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The University of the South Choir will sing a special evening service at All Saints’ Chapel on Sunday, Sept. 24, at 4 p.m.
Part of the Anglican tradition, Choral Evensong, essentially singing the evening prayer, dates back to the Reformation in the 16th century. Sophomore Oliver Postic, the choir’s bass section head, said Sunday’s service will be moving and sacred.
“Our purpose of leading worship every Sunday morning becomes more important during Evensong because the music is the focal point of the service,” he said. “I believe that by singing the evening prayer, a choir is able to make the words transcend the books that bind them.”
Soprano section leader Matti Hitel, a sophomore from Riverside, Conn., and daughter of a choirmaster, said she loves the experience of performing.
“The feeling of singing during Evensong is unlike any other service,” she said. “Whether we are singing an eight-part blaring anthem or a unison plainsong chant, there is something so meditative about it all. To me, the silence is the most mesmerizing. In the rests of a piece, even more so than the notes, I feel chills in my bones.”
Geoffrey Ward, University organist and choirmaster, explained what people can expect on Sunday.
“People will experience a service that is primarily sung from different parts of the chapel,” he said. “The University Choir will sing an introit from the back of the chapel before processing to the front of the chapel leading a congregational hymn. Most of the service is sung from the front of the chapel, both accompanied by the organ and acappella.”
Rev. Melissa Hartley is officiant for Evensong and William Stokes, seminarian and 2016 Sewanee graduate, is the service organist, Ward said.
The University Choir has about 50 members and about half of them are singing their first Evensong.
In getting ready for the performance, Ward said much of the preparation involves the transitions.
“The introit flows into a hymn and then responses and a psalm before the first reading,” he said. “It is something that the first-time choristers need to experience more than anything. Evensong moves at a quick pace when you are immersed in leading the worship service.”
Another Choral Evensong is scheduled for Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. at All Saints’ Chapel.
“Choral Evensong is a meaningful aspect of the worship experience for members of the University Choir as well as the Sewanee community,” Ward said. “We hope to see more interaction and engagement with students, staff and faculty of the University, as well as the greater Sewanee community.”
The choir’s biggest performance of the year, the Festival of Lessons and Carols, is Dec. 2-3.