I’m not a religious person, but I love listening to church music. Not hymns or Christmas carols – the chart toppers, as my husband calls them – but more the plainsong and Gregorian chant of the early Christian church or sacred music of Mozart and Bach. That’s what draws me to churches like Notre Dame in Paris or St Martin-in-the Fields and St Paul’s Cathedral in London when I travel. To sit in such beautiful places and have those wondrous voices wash over me…
Would it be possible to find such music in Calgary? At this time of year there are plenty of carol services to be had, but that’s not what I wanted.
And then I discovered that The Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, in Calgary’s downtown, offers Vespers by Candlelight every Thursday evening at 6pm from October to March.
What is vespers? In monasteries, convents and churches, it’s the sunset evening prayer service which is usually sung.
On entering the church we were offered a candle and service sheet. The choir entered silently and sang – without accompaniment – for twenty-five minutes before silently exiting. There was no sermon, no joining in from the audience, no need to read along with the service sheet, just the sound of beautiful voices singing in harmony and a wonderful sense of peace at the end of a busy day.
(Oh, and managing not to set fire to a prayer-book with my candle!)