On Sunday 23rd November at 6pm the 2nd annual ‘Festival of Choral Evensong‘ will take place at All Saints Fulham church bringing together the choirs of St Martin-in-the-Fields, St Luke’s Chelsea and All Saints Fulham to support the churches’ work with the homeless in the capital.
Last year, the Choirs sang an anthem by English composer Sir William Henry Harris – Faire is the Heaven. This year, the joint Choir will sing Blest Pair of Sirens by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918). This piece was sung by the Choirs of Westminster Abbey and Chapel Royal during the signing of the register at the wedding of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.
Parry dedicated Blest Pair of Sirens to C. V. Stanford who first conducted the piece and to the members of the Bach Choir who first performed it in 1887. The words come from a poem by English writer John Milton (1608-74).
At a Solemn Musick by John Milton
Blest pair of Sirens, pledges of Heaven’s joy,
Sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse,
Wed your divine sounds, and mixed pow’r employ,
Dead things with inbreathed sense able to pierce;
And to our high-raised phantasy present
That undisturbed song of pure concent,
Aye sung before the sapphire-coloured throne
To Him that sits thereon,
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee,
Where the bright Seraphim in burning row
Their loud uplifted angel-trumpets blow,
And the Cherubic host in thousand choirs
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires,
With those just Spirits that wear victorious palms,
Hymns devout and holy psalms
Thus we on earth with undiscording voice
May rightly answer that melodious noise;
As once we did, till disproportioned sin
Jarred against nature’s chime, and with harsh din
Broke the fair music that all creatures made
To their great Lord, whose love their motion swayed
In perfect diapason, whilst they stood
In first obedience, and their state of good.
O may we soon again renew that song,
And keep in tune with Heaven, till God ere long
To His celestial concert us unite,
To live with Him, and sing in endless morn of light.
The video is from 2009. Sir David Willcocks conducts the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. This includes the two National Youth Girls Choirs, National Youth Boys’ Choir, National Youth Training Choir, National Youth Choir and Laudibus. Also performing are a re-union choir of past members of NYCGB. The organist is David Hill.