We are proud that strong and committed congregational singing is central to our musical offering in worship, led and supported by our Choir and Director of Music.
In our Sunday Parish Eucharists, the congregation sings three or four hymns; settings of the Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei; in responsorial psalms in dialogue with our Choir; and in acclamation of the Gospel. Our hymnody features a range of styles and traditions, with a foundation of traditional hymns such as those found in The New English Hymnal, but encompassing too many more contemporary hymns and songs, music of the Iona community, and music attractive to all ages. Our growing repertoire of congregational Eucharistic settings includes music by Richard Shephard, Anthony Greening, John Merbecke, and our own former Director of Music Rosemary Field. We sing our responsorial psalms to music also written by Rosemary Field. And our singing in acclamation of the Gospel, changing according to the liturgical season, includes ancient plainsong as well as more contemporary settings such as a Celtic Alleluia.
We are one of the only churches in the area to have regular Sunday BCP Evensong with the congregation at the forefront of the singing. Our Sunday Evensong congregation regularly sings a Ferial setting of the Preces and Responses; the day's appointed psalmody as well as the canticles (Magnificat and Nunc dimittis) to Anglican Chant settings in the Parish Psalter; and two or three hymns, predominantly selected from the New English Hymnal.
Unfortunately, during the Covid-19 pandemic, no congregational singing in church has been possible for reasons of health and safety, in line with government restrictions. In Parish Eucharists, singing has been undertaken in line with government restrictions as they have fluctuated, and so been led sometimes by the clergy, sometimes by a cantor, and sometimes by members of our Choir; and our congregation in church are invited to speak and pray quietly the words of hymns, psalms, and Eucharistic settings while they are sung, and congregants joining online have been encouraged to sing from home. On occasions when the restrictions have permitted, our congregations have sung outdoors together. Evensongs have been conducted as predominantly spoken evening prayer services, aside from hymns at the beginning and the end sung by the clergy or a cantor; again, the congregation in church is invited to speak and pray the words quietly, and congregants joining online are encouraged to sing from home. We hope and pray that our congregations may sing in church together again soon.