Evensong (with Dragons)

Quite an exhilarating Choral Evensong last night.

Three ribbons to give out to young choristers to indicate their achievements and then straight into an exciting musical service.

The psalm was 148, which is one of my favourites, particularly in the setting that they sing here. In common with very many choral churches, we usually sing from the Coverdale translation of the psalms. It is a glimpse back to a time when the scriptures were first being translated into English and sometimes you can catch how exciting that must have been.

Apart from the fact that the following couplet appears to contain the perfect Glasgow weather forecast, who can’t enjoy singing about dragons and all deeps praising the Lord?

Praise the Lord upon earth ye dragons, and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and vapours  wind and storm, fulfilling his word;

If even the dragons can be part of the world’s great symphony of praise, there must be hope for us all.

The language of the Coverdale psalms, tricky, anachronistic, out of date and bizarre is also paradoxically wonderful for talking about faith with children.

After the psalm and an highly chromatic office hymn that was new to me, we were swooping along into the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Dyson in D. (Dicing with Death, the choir call it). Magical moments, particularly at the end of the Mag. However, the choir managed to save something special for the anthem, I saw the Lord by Stainer. High point of the day was reached at the k in the phrase, “and the temple of the Lord was filled with smoKe”

And yes, if you were paying attention, I did, in the intercessions, ask the Holy and Blessed Trinity to protect us from religion that is dull or humourless.

Let all the people say,



  1. I always remember being told that the final “smoke” in the Stainer is meant to be the loudest note in Anglican choral music. I have no idea how that can possibly be qualified, and of course there are so many variables, but I still like to believe it’s true.

  2. duncan says

    I love the fact that the unicorn appears in the KJV bible about ten times. Who said scripture doesn’t contain mythic elements!

  3. Fluttter ‘fetti has long been overlooked in the liturgy, I feel. I suspect you’d have to bribe your servers to sweep it up though – least favourite job.

  4. Martin Ritchie says

    The loudness of “smoke” probably depends on the choir singing it! I bet St Mary’s give it a good thump! 😉

    On the subject of dragons…….we have some stylised ones hidden away in our Daniel Cottier stained glass at Pilrig St Paul’s in Edinburgh. I didn’t notice them for over three years despite having spent ages taking photographs of the windows. Cunningly hidden as I’m sure all dragons are!

    • The smoke was certainly wonderfully loud last night.

      I see that Freda has new dragons, though they don’t seem particularly well hidden.

      Cal – I hope very much that the skills that you are currently building up are at some time and in some place offered unto the Lord in the facilitation of the most holy, most glorious and most magnificent liturgy.

      [Lesson learned from typing this comment – do not muddle up dragons and dragoons]

  5. Brother David says

    [May] the Holy and Blessed Trinity to protect us from religion that is dull or humorless.


  6. Rosemary Hannah says

    Now Kelvin, you must have read my story of St Michael, and you know, perfectly well, that actually the great archangel is dragon-formed. THe horrid prodder with the lance is actually Lucifer.

  7. Sounds fabulous. Impressed that you weren’t tempted to rename it EvenDrag!

  8. Agatha says

    What if your Dyson isn’t in D? Mine is probably more A below middle C.

    I also like the idea of you all singing (a la The Clash) “I saw the Lord and the Lord won”.

  9. @Cal – I heard that too, but got pooh-poohed when I remarked upon it. Glad to hear I’m not alone.
    @Martin – St Mary’s choir do not thump. Lean upon, emphasise, give weight to, but never thump. Nor, for the psalmody aficionados out there, do they gabble.

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