As an Anglican church musician - who loves the office of Evensong - this article from the Victoria Times Colonist caught my eye.
Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria managed to get their evensong services previewed as a "concert" in the local paper. An interesting concept I thought. Previewing what is a religious service as something that might interest classical music lovers with no religious affiliation. Both evangalism and concert promotion tied up in one!
They do have a point though. The office of Evensong does provide some of the best opportunity to showcase the music of England, from the Tudor tradition through to the 20th century. There are countless settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis that have found their way into standard concert repetoire that perhaps showing where they belong would be interesting to non-Anglicans. The service, in case you've never experinced its beauty, is pretty much wall to wall music, interspersed with readings and prayers. But mostly, just music!
A few years ago, I took a choir to Scotland and England, and we were to perform evensong at Beverly Minster while on tour. I decided that we would hold a pre-tour concert, which would begin with the service of evensong, in the setting of the Anglican church I work at. I was deeply surprised, and frightened, when I found out that the church was packed with people. Especially as many figured they were at a choral concert (I had failed to mention in the concert promotion that it would be Evensong, followed by a short concert), and they didn't realize that they were about to be subjected to a full choral evensong service, complete with sermon! To my delight, everyone enjoyed it immensely, and no one was put off by all those English prayers to the Queen!
We weren't trying to be evangelistic - all we wanted was a chance to run a real evensong before we got to England, so I could prepare the non-Anglicans in my choir what they should expect. Turns out, it was a great concert opportunity - and very well received by all.
So if you are in the Victoria area, Sunday's at 4:30 - consider stopping in. I should also add that if you are in England, and would rather not pay the few pounds to see Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's, show up in time for Evensong, see the building for free, and witness what is one of the most incredible and beautiful choral traditions of the Church of England.