Friday, July 29, 2005


Tonight we sing our last evensong at Durham Cathedral. Rehearsal went well in the song school, a room high up the stairs beside the South Transcept of the Cathedral, between the Cathedral and the Chapter House.

The walls are lined with shelves of music. I didn't spot any Sowerby among their evening service music, but we will sing his Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis tonight, as well as his anthem, Come Holy Spirit. I noticed that the translation of the anthem text was written by John Cosin, who was a canon at Durham in 1627 when he wrote it. He returned from exile with Charles II and was appointed Bishop of Durham by that king, and he reestablished the Cathedral. During Oliver Cromwell's time, when he sacked the bishops and shut down the cathedrals, many of these fine buildings suffered damage. At Durham, Cromwell used the Cathedral as a prison for Scottish prisoners, who set about burning all the wood in the cathedral. So almost all wooden structures within it date from 1670 or later. They saved one wooden piece, a large clock. There is a thistle carved into it, a national Scottish symbol. So the Scots did not burn it. Now it is located in the South Transcept and we walk through doors at its base to get to the Song School and the Chapter House.

I am looking forward to singing Sowerby. The closing Gloria for the Nunc are indeed heavenly tones.

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