By Jocelyn Pedersen
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Evensong will be offered by the St. Cecilia Guild of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 1601 W. Imhoff Road, at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The event is open to the public without charge. An offering will be taken to support the work of the guild, including funding for paid singers, acquiring new music and new musical programs in general.
David Zittel, guild chair, said the idea of having Evensong was hatched when he spoke with Fr. Alan Sutherland about music the church was not currently offering but which he might like to include in its repertoire.
“It’s a chance to hear some of the canticles that don’t get said or sung,” Zittel said. “When people do evening prayer it is often spoken, but with Evensong, it is a very musical experience. It is mostly a sung service and in particular, for the psalm, we will do Anglican chant — four-part harmony where syllables have slurred multiple notes. It’s an art form.”
Included in the service will be Herbert Howells’ “Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis,” by David Hogan. Organist and Choirmaster Clyde Morris will play and direct.
Zittel said the date of the event coincides with the feast day of St. Columba. Further checking with Catholic.org shows Columba was an Irish abbot and missionary who spread Christianity in what is now Scotland, and ewtn.com, Global Catholic Network, maintains he sang M’Oenuran while he walked alone as “it was thought to be a protection to anyone who sang it on a journey.” Zittel said Columba, who worked as a book copier, died while he was copying music. St. Cecilia, for whom the music guild at St. Michael’s is named, is the patron saint of musicans.
Guild member, Timothy Phillips, explained that chant used at Matins and Evensong was developed as a flexible way of singing non-metical texts.
“Flexible melodies, which could be lengthened or shortened almost at will, had to be used because the number of syllables in one line of a translation of a Psalm might differ greatly from the number of syllables in the next line. Singing was used as a way of projecting the words to the hearers in the days before electronic amplification, because of the joy that music brings and because music was deemed appropriate to the worship of God: Many of the Psalms after all, encourage singing to God.”
Of his opinion about having Evensong at St. Michael’s, Phillips said, “A Christian’s prayer is part of the Church’s prayer, whether he prays by himself or together with others. But I find that when we can gather to offer prayers together, it makes that gift of joy that the theologians speak of to be more clearly perceived.”
For more information, call the church at 321-8951 or visit www.stmichaelsnorman.org.