My first experience with Evensong was an online broadcast from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. I was fresh out of college serving a large Lutheran congregation in North Dakota which served as the center of music and arts for a large area. I started listening because I was curious about this Episcopal service that had such a cool title. But mostly I was looking for repertoire ideas, and wanted to hear some good organ playing. I didn’t think it was possible to worship remotely, so I wasn’t prepared when I found myself captivated and moved by this service. The music was glorious, but what I found especially moving was how the profound mystery and presence of God emanated throughout the service in a different way than it did in our Eucharistic liturgy.
The weaving of scripture and sung prayer, the beautiful music, and the act of praying at the eve of the day with others around the globe, was a strong and present reminder of belonging to something greater. Evensong, like all forms of liturgical worship, has elements of drama and ritual that nourish the spiritual life of all of us. Based entirely on elements of Holy Scripture, it is scripted according to a long history that originated in Judaic and early Christian evening worship. Evensong is traditionally mostly sung by a choir, with the full congregation participating throughout in thoughtful prayer, allowing the music to soothe us and to draw us closer to the presence of God.
On Sunday at 4pm we have the opportunity to attend Evensong followed by our Chili Cookoff. Evensong is a special gift that we are lucky to offer here at Saint George’s on the third Tuesdays of the month and on select Sundays throughout the year. It is a different experience than Sunday morning, so do come and give it a try if you haven’t! Evensong may be overflowing with exuberant praise one day, and rest in contemplative reflection the next. It lasts just under an hour and provides a great opportunity to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” later in the day as evening falls upon us. It's also a wonderful way to introduce your friends to our church and is entirely appropriate for kids! (Make sure your child gets their special children’s guide at the service on Sunday.).
You can find more about Evensong at saintgeorgesmusic.org if you are curious. I hope to see you at Evensong this Sunday as we offer unto God all that remains incomplete or unresolved in our lives while lifting our hearts in gratitude for God’s love and grace as it has touched our lives in the course of the day. And, perhaps the best thing about Saint George’s Evensongs is they are usually followed by a great party – so stay afterwards for all the family fun at our great Chili Cookoff.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Ben Keseley, Minister of Music