Congratulations to the University Cecilian Choir, which launched the season of Advent last Friday with a highly atmospheric combination of antiphons, carols and periods of silence in a special Breathing Space occasion at St Michael and All Angels, Hernhill.
The interior of the church was bathed in candlelight for this unusual event, which is part of a series run by the church during the dark winter months, as an opportunity to escape from the pressures of the Digital Age and find the chance to enjoy a reflective, meditative space on the last Friday of each month. The Cecilian Choir travelled out to the fifteenth-century church to sing a sequence of carols, each prefaced by one of the great Advent antiphons, creating a contrast between the solemnity of the plainsong and the colours of the carols which followed.
The sequence began with a glass-clear rendition of the opening verse to Once in royal David’s city from second-year soprano, Felicity Bourdillon, which opened the door into the ensuing procession of carols and antiphons, punctuated by periods of stillness illuminated by the dancing candles set around the church.
The Choir, comprising staff and students at the University, relished the opportunity to usher in the season from the closeness of the choir-stalls. Afterwards, congregation and performers left in silence, following the line of candles flickering along the sides of the footpath leading away from the church and into the Christmas season.