Catholic Evensong at Blackfen

When I was an undergraduate at Oxford and attended Evensong from time to time in my own College Chapel at Corpus Christi, I little imagined that one day as a Parish Priest I would be able to invite a brother priest in full communion with the Catholic Church to celebrate Evensong according to a rite approved by the Holy See. The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is an ecumenical success story. When Professor Hans Kung wrote about The Church and Reunion in 1961, I do not expect he anticipated a service such as we celebrated at Blackfen last Friday for the beginning of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Peter Mitchell and the Bexley and Crayford District Organists' and Choirmasters' Association generously gave their time to rehearse and execute some excellent music. The Blackfen Church Choir took part, with singers on all four parts. Fr Simon Heans of the Ordinariate who regularly helps out at Blackfen, was the celebrant.

After the Introit, we sang Praise to the Holiest, to the Chorus Angelorum melody which is not so often sung these days. The Responses and the Preces were sung to the setting by William Smith of Durham which did sound familiar to me from back in the day. The office hymn was Jerusalem the Golden; Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Derek Holman, and the Anthem was "Behold how good and joyful a thing it is" to music by John Clarke-Whitfield. Glorious!

We had some good-humoured banter about Anglican Patrimony afterwards over cake - and Prosecco which I provided as an Italianate influence (along with tea, of course.) I am looking forward to having Choral Evensong again at Blackfen from time to time.

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