Choral Evensong

On this Sunday, my second day in Durham, I took myself over to Durham Cathedral (after receiving communion there yesterday) for Choral Evensong.

After listening many, many times to Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3, I was very excited. And the service did my excitement justice!

A beautiful service, and one that will always stay with me. I was invited by one of the clergy to join others in spare rows of the Quire, between the Cathedral Choir and the clergy in the Sanctuary! It was an honour to be so close to them all and I can’t help wondering if those amidst the congregation in the normal pews had as stunning an experience as I. I hope they did.

A powerful, beautiful sound of organ-played Voluntaries, sung Anthems, Psalms and Hymns left me feeling as though I could live my whole life in that Cathedral, and if possible would ask food and Home to be brought in with me!

All present joined in to sing Hymns, and as the final Hymn came, I enjoyed the sound of my own voice (which is a rarity) joining with everyone elses! Durham Cathedral was an incredibly beautiful and comfortable place to be.

Friendly people too, and of all ages. A cheerful and proud father sat with me in the service pointed out his young son singing in the front row. After the service, he spoke to me of the clergy, and the welcome found there.

Certainly I felt God’s presence. Certainly, I found another place where love and joy speak prominently to my soul…

O thou not made with hands,
Not throned above the skies,
Nor walled with shining walls,
Nor framed with stones of price,
More bright than gold or gem,
God’s own Jerusalem.

Where’er the gentle heart
Finds courage from above;
Where’er the heart forsook
Warms with the breath of love;
Where faith bids fear depart,
City of God, thou art.

Thou art where’er the proud
In humbleness melts down;
Where self itself yields up;
Where martyrs win their crown;
Where faithful souls possess
Themselves in perfect peace.

Where in life’s common ways
With cheerful feet we go;
Where in His steps we tread,
Who trod the way of woe;
Where He is in the heart,
City of God, thou art.

Not throned above the skies,
Nor golden-walled afar,
But where Christ’s two or three
In His name gathered are,
Be in the midst of them,
God’s own Jerusalem.

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