Now that I’ve found a church home here in Atlanta (The Cathedral of St. Philip), I’ve been trying to learn a bit more about the church and the services it offers. At my church back home we had an evening service that was similar to (but smaller than) the 11AM service. When I looked into the evening service at this new church, they don’t refer to it as the Holy Eucharist, but rather “Evensong and Holy Eucharist.” This peaked my curiosity, so yesterday I decided to attend church at 4PM to see what this was all about.
The definition on Wikipedia of Evensong is pretty accurate to what I attended yesterday:
Evening Prayer is a liturgy in use in the Anglican Communion (and other churches in the Anglican tradition, such as the Continuing Anglican Movement and the Anglican Use of the Roman Catholic Church) and celebrated in the late afternoon or evening. It is also commonly known as Evensong, especially (but not exclusively) when the office is rendered chorally (that is, when most of the service is sung). It is roughly the equivalent of Vespers in the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran churches, although it was originally formed by combining the Roman Catholic offices of Vespers and Compline. Although many churches now take their services from Common Worship or other modern prayer books, if a church has a choir, Choral Evensong from the Book of Common Prayer often remains in use because of the greater musical provision. Evening Prayer, like Morning Prayer (Mattins) and in contrast to the Eucharist, may be led by a layperson, and is recited by some devout Anglicans daily in private (clergy in many Anglican jurisdictions are required to do so).
The service was lovely. It was mostly sung, and the choir was AMAZING. My only thought was that I wish I’d had the words they were singing in the program (I’m much more of a visual learner, so I get a lot more out of it if I can read along when I hear choral music). The service was also a bit more traditional – there was incense, and the language was a bit older. All in all, I enjoyed the service and will likely attend again, but the 11:15AM service will still be my regular service.
Does anyone else have any experience with Evensong?