Across the United Kingdom, social commentators have long recognized a downward trend in attendance in the nation's churches on Sundays. This corresponds to a growing secularization in the wider culture, a trend we are experiencing in the United States as well.
There was one crucial exception to this trend however. Attendance across the nation was actually up at one particular kind of service. It was the many Choral Evensongs sung every evening throughout the cathedrals, collegiate churches, and in some large parishes of the nation. Even non-Christian commentators have applauded this trend. Australian atheist Dick Gross has publicly argued for the enduring value of Choral Evensong, and why it should be supported even by the "godless."
If you are curious about all the hub-bub, wonder no more. This coming Sunday, Holy Trinity Parish, right here in humble Hillsdale, Michigan, will take a crack at this venerable service. And our excellent choir will do a beautiful job of it too, if you may permit a pastor to boast a bit about his congregation.
But what is it? In short, it's the traditional service of Evening Prayer sung. A few things worth noting here.
It is truly a remarkable service, one beloved the world over, without any exaggeration. Only choirs of a slightly higher caliber can hope to pull a full blown Choral Evensong off, and Holy Trinity's choir will make the attempt. In fact, this is their second attempt in less than six months, and past precedent shows they will not be unsuccessful.
So consider carving out an hour of your time on Sunday evening and joining us for this breathtaking service of worship to God's divine majesty.
But remember, with the choir doing a lot of singing, it may feel more like a concert, but it is for the public worship and glorification of God that this service is designed. So come ready not just to hear a good performance, but to pray inwardly what the choir sings outwardly, and above all things to give glory to Almighty God.
Fr. Adam Rick
A prayerbook Christian with a patristic twist.