Lighten Our Darkness: A Celebration of Choral Evensong, by Simon Reynolds

loudgls89's review

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informative reflective medium-paced


 This book was requested from NetGalley in exchange for a review. 

This short but packed book is a guide to Choral Evensong, giving insight into the structure and elements of the service, along with detailed history of each of those parts. 

I think I’ve only been to one Choral Evensong service before when I was at St Paul’s in London, and I have to admit I didn’t really ‘get it’. 

But now I’ve read this book, all I want to do is go and sit and hear everything I’ve read about. Given Covid-lockdowns, I think I may either have to be patient or join online, but I think it needs to be done. 

Even though the book was only short, I was impressed with how much detail the author went into. I previously knew nothing about the origins of the service but each chapter gave you context for that part of the service, be it the readings, the canticles, the anthem. 

I feel like I learned so much, but rather than being dry and boring, the author also spoke with such warmth and passion throughout the book that it was hard to not take that on myself, it was truly fascinating. 

Rather than a service that feels out of touch and old-fashioned, the book makes it clear that this service is perfect for today’s times, a way to reflect and connect with God in a way that isn’t offered by any other aspect of life. 

Having learnt so much through this book, there’s really too much to share, but I did like the fact that my hometown got a mention in the fact that until 2016 Leeds Minster was the only parish church in England to maintain daily choral evensong!