Sunday, March 1, 2009

High-TEC Sunday

As you will recall from my previous posts, my beloved the RC is alternating her attendance at her Roman Catholic church with our visits to the Episcopal Cathedral of San Diego, as she continues to explore where she belongs. This was an Episcopalian week, so off we trooped to the 10.30 Mass, which being a Cathedral service is quite impressive with a full choir, lots of people in procession (and VERY well attended by a wide demographic). We appreciate it for its warm welcome, about which I have posted previously.

Now, the Cathedral has lots of interesting events throughout the week, but especially on Sunday. However, because it is rather inconvenient for us to get there, and because we have BP's son with us Sunday nights, we usually can't go to any evening events. But this week, the Boy was off on a college visit, which meant we had the luxury of time to go back down to the city and attend Evensong at 5pm. I've always enjoyed Evensong (my years in England gave me a taste for it) and the Men and Boys choir at the Cathedral that sings this service is really outstanding. There is something unworldly about a boy soprano's voice. Although not as crowded as the morning Mass, I counted about 60 people there. We appreciated the service, and then decided to grab a bite to eat in the neighborhood and come back for Compline at 8.30.

I have never attended a Compline service, and neither had BP, so we didn't quite know what to expect. We returned to the Cathedral to find it dark inside, with only a few candles lit on the altar and no other lights. At first we wondered if the service was cancelled but then our eyes grew accustomed to the dark and we saw scattered shadows in the pews of others, sitting quietly. We found our way to a pew and sat, waiting.

Then, three people in black cassocks came out, each lighting a candle , and sat in chairs at the front. Holding their candles over their choirbooks, they proceeded to sing a cappella, polyphony, harmony, and plainchant, some in Latin and some in English. Between each piece was an extended quiet period for reflection. It was intensely beautiful and contemplative. When they finished, about 30 minutes later, they extinguished their candles and disappeared. We made our way out of the darkened church to be met by the cacophony of night-time city streets, unexpectedly garish under fluorescent lights. We headed for the freeway and the drive home, both of us feeling peaceful and refreshed in our own way.

BP, who is a brilliant punster as well as beloved partner, dubbed it our High-TEC Sunday.

13 comments:

James said...

I like that "High TEC" moniker.

Compline is such a great little service.

Fred Schwartz said...

I really enjoy the Hours. Used to say it daily "back in the day". Now, only on occasion. Matins and Vespers are my favorites.

High TEC Sunday is a great approach!

The young fogey said...

You've got American RCs beat, hands down, in production values.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Evensong is THE most lovely event in England I experience at Westminster Abbey...I often plan my trip to be certain I don´t miss it...but, miss it I have for a few years now.

Makes me feel connected right down to the tip of my toes.

Paul M said...

While I was a graduate student in Illinois, I discovered that I was in the middle of the "Baretta Belt", a region of high church practice. It took some getting used to. The Chapel read evening prayer every evening, and one of the high points of the liturgical year was the Advent lessons and carols evensong. It was a nice introduction to a beautiful strand of the Anglican quilt.

Paul M
(former boy soprano)

IT said...

So, one question we had (informed by having raised the Boy to age 17), is how do you persuade a Boy to sing?

JCF said...

It's probably easiest if he isn't straight (I'm just sayin'. If he is . . . tell him girls will swoon over him? ;-p)

I admit it: it took me a little while to get "High-TEC" (I so automatically say "T" "E" "C" in my head, that I didn't see the pun on "high tech")

Speaking of High-TEC: I've been a happy lil' downloading fool of late, bingeing on chants and masses and such (English and Latin, and occasionally Byzantine Greek or Slavonic or Russian!). I'm going to fill up my harddrive this way, but such glorious stuff! :-)

Anonymous said...

It was more a theoretical question of how one does persuade a 10 or 12 year old to sing, or even find if he has a voice. Ours is looong past the soprano stage so it's moot in his case, but when he was that age he was only interested in soccer.

David |Dah • veed| said...

IT, you would just "know" if you had a boy who liked to sing. It would be apparent long before his only interest was soccer!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

I loved to sing, especially churchy musick, but I gave it up because it was too easy...

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

But in Sweden we didn't have all male choirs and hadn't since my grandfather sang in Visby Cathedral in 1914.

FrTomInIllinois said...

I have always loved compline dearly and find that it is very often my most significant liturgy for the day.

Anonymous said...

Most children who like to sing are singing like mad by third grade or so, if given half an excuse. The ones who really like it stick with a children's choir or chorus, and the ones who have casual interest will lose interest. A good director makes all the difference in the world. Music class was the highlight of my elementary school day.

NancyP