The 16 th century composer Thomas Tallis lived through turbulent times in British history, but managed to compose a wonderful amount of church music which is still sung today. The Stamford Bridge Singers used Tallis’ Preces and Responses in their most recent event; Evensong at St. Nicholas’ church in Dunnington. The Director of Music Stuart Nettleship’s inventive use of a Tallis tune, which was later used by Ralph Vaughan-Williams in his Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, as a setting for the Lord’s Prayer was skilfully done and it is to be hoped that the master of invention – Tallis – would have approved.
Music from a very different era opened the service. The 20 th century French composer and organist Maurice Duruflé completed his lyrical and hauntingly beautiful Requiem in 1947, and the choir sang the Agnus Dei from this sublime work as an appropriate introit to the service. The difficult organ part was played with great skill by Jeremy Lloyd who is normally to be found playing at York Minster. The choir are planning to sing the whole of this wonderful piece in November 2018 at St Olave’s Church in York.
The setting for the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A flat was by a different composer and organist, Basil Harwood. The setting was originally written for Men’s voices, but the Stamford Bridge Singers sang it in an SATB version, and the luscious harmonies, especially in the two Glorias were music from a different age, and very Anglican.
For the anthem the choir went back, musically, to the early 18 th century and to Germany for Johann Sebastian Bach’s well known final movement from the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben which is better known in Britain as Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring.
The congregation joined in the choral evensong by joining the choir in three rousing hymns, including The Day Thou Gavest Lord is ended.
It was a great privilege to be asked to lead the worship in singing Evensong, and the choir were made to feel very welcome by the Reverend Nick Bird and other members of the congregation.