July 22, 2021

Waikato’s Wonders

Church Music- the future – the past?

During this year in the Waikato, we have seen great enthusiasm by choristers and congregations for Liturgical forms of services, led by choirs, particularly Evensong The Waikato Branch of the RSCM was invited to present a choral service of worship in St Paul’s Church Putaruru, a Combined Methodist/ Anglican congregation, and after discussion were very happy that this be choral Evensong. Despite the day being cold, wet and miserable 35 choristers travelled to the church, and were given a warm welcome.  In addition, a congregation consisting of people from all denominations in the town and district filled the church and sung the 4 hymns with great enthusiasm. This was the first time for many years that Choral Evensong had been presented in this church and was greatly appreciated by all.

 Choral Evensong was also presented in All Saints church Matamata by the church choir, with some additional choristers from Cambridge and Putaruru on Sunday 4th July. Once again, the enthusiasm of the choir and congregation was evident, but also by the Vicar, who had not presided over Evensong before or sung the Responses etc. He not only did this very well, but also made some interesting suggestions for more Evensongs in the church in the future, such as an Introit to start the service, a Responsorial psalm, and an invitation to the congregation to join in the Ferial Responses.

This raises the question: Are Liturgical church services a thing of the past, or for today and the future? Certainly not  a thing of the past if such services of Choral Evensong are anything to go by. People still appreciate a formal Liturgical service of worship, to which music for the congregation and a choir can add another dimension of worship. There are many musical settings of Evensong, some simple such as the Ferial Responses, which can be sung by all, or others more complex that can be sung by a choir. A choir can also present an Anthem to suit the season of the church’s year, plus some hymns for all to sing.

The future: RSCM Waikato have also been invited to present choral Evensong in St Luke’s Church Rotorua on 17th Oct, to celebrate the Festival of St Luke. They use the modern contemporary form of Evensong in A NZ Prayer Book and sing a setting by Dr John Wells. This is bringing the Liturgy into today’s world and language, and maybe ‘setting the scene’ for the future.

David Brookes.

 Chair- RSCM Waikato.

Organist and choir Director: All Saints Church Matamata.