Evensong for the Feast of Saint Edward

Evensong for the Feast of Saint Edward
Choir Of Westminster Abbey; William McKie
Catalogue No.

Westminster Abbey is a royal church, founded in 1065 by King Edward the Confessor, who was buried in the original Norman building only a few days after its consecration. Almost exactly two centuries later, in 1269, his body was ‘translated’ or removed to its present resting-place in the shrine east of the High Altar. It is this ceremony which is commemorated every year on the anniversary, 13 October. The Translation of St. Edward is, in fact, one of the high festivals in the Abbey’s domestic calendar.

Evensong is the service sung in nearly every Anglican church on Sundays and in cathedrals and collegiate churches several times a week. It is modeled on the pre-Reformation ‘lesser hours’, and is in fact a skilful conflation of two of them, Vespers and Compline, made by Archbishop Cranmer for the First English Prayer Book of 1549. The service as here recorded is sung in cathedral as distinct from the parish church style. This in effect means the two Canticles, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, are treated as extended choral pieces, while the Versicles and Responses have music more elaborate than is usually heard in parish churches. The music on this recording is by Gibbons, Byrd, Parry and Purcell, and concludes with Simon Preston’s celebrated recording of the Toccata from Widor’s Symphony No. 5, a regular inclusion at British royal weddings.


1 GIBBONS: Preces and Responses (ed. J. Whitworth)
2 ANONYMOUS: Psalm 84: How lovely are Thy Dwellings (chant by J. Coward)
3 First Lesson: Chronicles vi, 12-21
4 BYRD: Magnificat (the Second Service, ed. J. Whitworth)
5 Second Lesson: Peter i, 22 – ii, 9
6 BYRD: Nunc Dimittis (the Second Service, ed. J. Whitworth)
7 Creed
8 Lesser Litany
9 The Lord’s Prayer – Versicles and Responses
10 Collects
12 PARRY: I was glad
13 Prayers
14 PURCELL: Hymn: Christ is made the sure foundation
15 WIDOR: Toccata (from Organ Symphony No. 5)

The Choir of Westminster Abbey
Simon Preston, organ
William McKie, director

Recording information

Recording Producer: Andrew Raeburn
Recording Location: Westminster Abbey, London, UK, June 1963


‘The recording captures a wide range of tone … An enjoyable record, reaching a very high standard’ Gramophone