Saturday 9 October 2021 Evensong
This service was sung in the first week of Michaelmas term 2021, and for the first time since March 2020, the choir are back singing together in the stalls of the chapel. This service features the choir singing a canticle setting by Herbert Murrill, who was a contemporary to Herbert Howells. This piece was published in the same year as Howells’ ‘Gloucester Service’ (1946). Murrill had a background in choral music from his time as the organ scholar at Worcester College, Oxford. He was professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music for 19 years and went on to be the Head of Music at the BBC in 1950.
Pavel Chesnokov was a composer in Russia under both the Tsarist and Soviet regimes. He composed over 400 pieces of sacred choral music for the Russian Orthodox Church, but when the Soviet state emerged Chesnokov was not permitted to continue composing sacred music. Instead he chose to write over a hundred secular works during the latter part of his life, performing them with Moscow Academy Choir and the Bolshoi Theatre Choir. Chesnokov is known for writing very low bass parts, intended to be sung by a 'basso profundo' or 'oktavist', whose range would be up to an octave lower than the normal bass vocal range. The anthem in this service features an alto solo throughout, with the following words:
'Let my prayer arise in thy sight as incense, and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.
Lord, I call upon thee, hear me, receive the voice of my prayer when I call upon thee.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth, and keep watch over the door of my lips.
Incline not my heart to evil words, nor to make excuses for sins.'