Choral Evensong is celebrated every Sunday evening at 5.45 pm in term (except for the few Sundays where it is replaced by a carol service). The service lasts approximately one hour and consists of choral singing, hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon (often given by a guest preacher). It is a service that does not make great demands of the congregation in terms of participation, and many people of little or no religious inclination find Evensong a comfortable place to experience fine music and be inspired by a thought-provoking sermon.
After Evensong we have a drinks reception in the Old Library, which is a good opportunity to meet and talk with the guest preacher. Then at 7.15 pm we go up to Hall for formal dinner. As has oft been remarked, it is the most civilised way to spend a Sunday evening!
Evensong is a particularly English style of evening prayer, celebrated by Anglicans around the world. Its roots are in the long history of Christians gathering to pray on an evening. Its English incarnation dates from Thomas Cranmer’s first Book of Common Prayer in 1549, in which he blended the mediaeval Latin offices of Vespers (evening prayer) and Compline (night prayer) to produce English Evensong as the regular prayer at the end of the day.