Towards the end of September, Cantabile will be singing services at two churches in France - a Catholic mass at the Eglise St Meen in Cancale and a choral evensong at Eglise St. Gervais in Virey, for the Anglican community there. Before embarking upon this trip, the choir will preview some of the music to be sung in France, in a special choral evensong at St George's, St Ouen. The service music is all by English composers of the early 20th century and the final organ voluntary is by J.S.
The opening introit I sat down under his shadow is a setting of words from the Song of Solomon by Edward Bairstow (1874-1946) who was organist of York Minster for over thirty years (1913-46). The Responses by Bernard Rose (1916-96), were composed for Magdalen College, Oxford where he was Informator Choristarum (organist and master of the choristers), for almost a quarter of a century (1957-81).
The evening service setting is that in F major by John Ireland (1879-1962) and was composed in 1915 for the choir of St. Luke's, Chelsea, where for many years the composer was organist. As a student at the Royal College of Music, Ireland had been a contemporary of both Vaughan Williams and Holst. Later he became a composition professor there, his pupils including E.J. Moeran (1894-1950) and Benjamin Britten (1913-76).
Ireland had a long association with the Channel Islands, and he took advantage of a request to design an organ for St. Stephen's Church in St. Peter Port, Guernsey to insist that he should be the organist and choirmaster. He took up the post just before the outbreak of the Second World War, and narrowly escaped the German invasion: he was one of the 1,500 people crammed onto the last boat to make it back to the British mainland.
Elgar's stirring anthem, Fear not, O land , dates from 1914 and sets a text from the Book of Joel celebrating the fruits of the earth.
Everyone is invited to join in with four rousing hymns with tunes by Henry Purcell (1659-95), Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) and a contemporary classic by Stuart Townend (b.1963).
Before the service (beginning at about 5.40pm), Cantabile's Director of Music, Graham Caldbeck, will give a short organ recital of music by Elgar, Ireland and Vaughan Williams.
The service will last just under an hour.