BBC Radio 3 to broadcast live from Peterborough Cathedral today

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BBC Radio 3 will broadcast its weekly service of Choral Evensong live from Peterborough Cathedral today, Wednesday April 5.

The Cathedral will be closed to visitors from 3.10pm to 4.30pm for the broadcast.

Those wishing to attend are asked to be seated by 3pm and the service will last about one hour. All are welcome.

The music will be: Tallis Miserere nostri, Responses Shephard, Leighton Second Service, Psalms 27, 28, 29, Greene Lord, let me know mine end and Hymn 62.

The BBC has been broadcasting a weekly service of Evensong, usually live, since 1926. These days you can also listen to recent recordings of the services via the BBC Radio 3 website.

Choral Evensong, lasting around 45 minutes, is a service held at the close of the day, allowing listeners time for peaceful contemplation.

Choral Evensong - what to expect

It is the only Cathedral service led almost entirely by music, meaning that it is easy for a newcomer to participate, simply by listening. The interspersing of music between familiar passages of spoken liturgy lends a beautiful balance and completeness to the worship.

As an English language service, Evensong dates back to the time of the Reformation, using elements of the old monastic Offices of Vespers and Compline. The liturgy (a fixed set of words and movement) that the Church uses to this day was laid out in Archbishop Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer, the first version of which appeared in 1549. The music took shape a few decades later, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Cranmer created the liturgy of Evensong with the general public in mind, producing a short service which people could attend in place of several different monastic services. Its long history connects past ages to us in the present. As we come together in the choir stalls at the end of the day we join a vast community enduring both through time and in the same place, worshipping as generations of people have done before us.

The Cathedral uses the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the service contains the following elements: verses and responses, one or more sung psalms, and two lessons from the Bible – one from the Old Testament and one from the New. The Old Testament reading looks forward to the coming of Christ and is followed by the sung Magnificat (‘My soul doth magnify the Lord’), the words of the Virgin Mary celebrating the Incarnation. This joyful song links the two Testaments. After this, the second lesson is read, this time from the New Testament, telling of Christ’s life on Earth. The choir then sings the old man Simeon’s plea, the Nunc Dimittis: ‘Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace’. It is his song of fulfilment on seeing the infant Jesus in the Temple and recognising him as the Messiah.

The service continues with the Creed, verses and responses sung by the choir, the chanted Lord’s Prayer, spoken and chanted prayers (or ‘collects’), and an anthem appropriate to the Church calendar. There are sometimes one or two hymns sung by choir and congregation; and the organ is played before and after the service.

Choral Evensong at Peterborough Cathedral

Choral Evensong at Peterborough Cathedral takes place at 5.30pm from Monday to Saturday, and 3.30pm on Sundays. It is sung by the Peterborough Cathedral Choir during term time, and often by visiting choirs on Saturdays and during school holidays