Feeding the multitude – 180 hungry choristers at the cathedral choirs festival in Wellington.
Massed cathedral choirs in Wellington Cathedral of St Paul.
The combined cathedral choirs performing in Wellington.
Anglican cathedral music throughout New Zealand is in great health, judging by performances in Wellington at the weekend.
Despite Wellington wind’s best efforts, over 180 choristers made it to Wellington Cathedral of St Paul for the weekend.
Coming from the cathedrals in Dunedin, Christchurch, Nelson, Napier, Hamilton, Auckland and Wellington (only New Plymouth was not able to make it), singers of all ages sang their hearts out.
A concert on Saturday and two joyful choral services on Sunday provided opportunities for individual choirs to sing, and then join together for some of the great cathedral repertoire.
Cathedral choirs are ‘working choirs’: they sing every week, leading and encouraging the worship of God. Their hard work and attention to detail is a reminder that only the best is good enough for God.
The glory of the heavenly vision in the Sanctus took on a new meaning as the huge choir sang Louis Vierne’s Messe Solenelle , and the large congregation thrilled as they joined the ‘angels and archangels and all the company of heaven’ in praising God.
Anglican choirs are known for the careful and prayerful singing of psalms, and this weekend did not disappoint as music settings by Stanford (Psalm 150) and Howells (Psalm 42) were sung.
Wellington Cathedral’s lush acoustic echoed beautifully as Dean Frank Nelson intoned the Preces and the choir sang the Responses written by Nardone. Elgar’s “Great is the Lord” gave both singers and organist plenty of challenge, as did the Howells St Paul’s evening service (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis.)
The final hymn thundered out as the congregation, many of them former choristers, joined in singing “All my hope on God is founded”.
Using the Chorister’s Prayer as a spring board, preacher Frank Nelson (in his last sermon as Dean of Wellington) had this challenge to the choirs gathered for the festival, and indeed to all church musicians:
“You who sing in cathedral choirs are ministers of the Gospel. People listen and enjoy, they also watch and wonder. Does it add up? Do they believe in their hearts? Do they show forth in their lives what they believe, what they sing?”
Bless, O Lord, us Thy servants,
who minister in Thy temple.
Grant that what we sing with our lips,
we may believe in our hearts,
and what we believe in our hearts,
we may show forth in our lives.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.