Saturday 17th June, 2.00 for 5 pm service – St Mary’s Church, Ross-on-Wye

An Evensong to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of the great Tudor composer, William Byrd and the first official birthday of HM King Charles III

We’re looking for experienced singers (able to read music) to join a “scratch” choir on the afternoon of Saturday 17th June, to rehearse at 2pm for a 5pm special service of Choral Evensong. To get involved:

  • Sign up
  • decide whether you’re up for a solo or not (ten soloists are required for the Great Service).
  • Learn the notes at home. (There won’t be time for note bashing on the day.)
  • Come along, at 2pm on Saturday 17th June, and we’ll put it all together.
  • Bring a tablet (if you have one) with the music downloaded
  • Get a friend to come along to the service at 5 pm (optional!)

Music (all provided digitally):

This is difficult, but very rewarding, music – it won’t be for everyone! We don’t want to put you off, but you will need to be able to read music and even then, there won’t be time to learn the notes on the single day of the rehearsal and performance. To that end, all the music and rehearsal tracks are available below for you to prepare at home in advance.

Byrd Responses – the most straightforward thing we’re singing! SAATB.

The Great Service (the canticles) was Byrd’s magnum opus, at least when it comes to service settings. Byrd set all the music required for Matins and Evensong but only the Kyrie and Creed of the Mass (not much use for modern liturgical use). We’re only interested in the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (the canticles for evensong).

It’s scored for double 5 part choir (SAATB x 2) and has solos in all 10 parts. That means that a minimum of 20 confident singers are needed to perform it properly. Byrd makes use of many different groupings of voices right across the two choirs and we hope to make the most of this “surround sound” experience by performing it “in the round”, in the nave, with the congregation in the centre.

The downloadable score below has some colour coding in it to help work out who is singing when.

  • Red = decani (the choir on the right as you face the high altar) – I’ll let you know which choir you’re in when sufficient people have registered.
  • Blue = cantoris (the choir on the left),
  • a solid line = full,
  • a dot = verse (solo).

O Lord, make thy servant (the anthem) is usually performed these days by SAATTB – with the tenor part dividing later in the piece (hardly any of Byrd’s huge output was written for conventional SATB resources!) Originally written as a motet for Elizabeth I, the words have been amended in the download below.

Rehearsal tracks (YouTube)

You may find it easiest to download the music above to a tablet, then play the tracks below on a different device. All tracks have the notes on the screen (in the video), there may be discrepancies, however. The Great service has no indication of who sings what in the videos.