Tonight we had a concert of sacred music by local choir Cantorion Llandaf, in honour of the Feast that ends the Christian year. I agreed that it should start at six, for no other reason than not thinking before saying 'yes'. As a result I was gently reminded of a long standing agreement I had forgotten about, that Evensong should not be supplanted by a concert. A bit embarrassed I declared that I would say Evensong at five thirty and anyone who wanted to could join me. This was announced a week in advance, and to my surprise and delight, roughly the same number came and said Evening Prayer with me as usually came at six - eighteen people. And, they made up more than a third of the subsequent audience for the inspiring programme that followed.
Apart from a range of well sung choral works with which I was already familiar, the programme featured a fine solo trumpet player and an accomplished soprano. For one item, they joined forces for a voice/brass duet with organ accompaniment, which was exhilarating to hear.
The musicians' energy and commitment made the event an act of devotion, even though it contained no formal liturgical prayer. Perhaps for some people this is as much as they can manage. It's worship of a kind, and it can move others to prayer and reflection, even though it is essentially performance art. I wish there we more we could achieve to bridge the gap between the two. This is a theological understanding I've not properly explored.
Earlier this week I booked my Easyjet flight to Geneva for my long New Year break this year, starting the day the new Parish of Cathays comes into existence. My first port of call will be St Imier in the Jura bernois where my secretary from Geneva days, and her organist husband live. Both are accomplished organists and professional musicians in their own right, conducting and teaching, working in churches and schools. I look forward to taking some theological soundings with them. It's been six years since we last had an opportunity to meet and catch up.