Roller-coaster of emotions in an Easter Evensong service

The Mid Northumberland Chorus in full voice last week in front of a packed congregation at St Jamess Church in Morpeth.
The Mid Northumberland Chorus in full voice last week in front of a packed congregation at St Jamess Church in Morpeth.
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Review

Many Morpeth residents have been enjoying Easter, with plenty of chocolates, Easter Bunny visits and entertainment galore during the school holidays.

However, the celebrations began with a more sombre tone as hundreds of people attended a sung Evensong service in the town. Brian Bennett reviews the event.

The Mid Northumberland Chorus gave an excellent rendition of The Crucifixion — an oratorio by John Stainer, in St James’s Church, Morpeth, last Wednesday.

The work, which is poignant, powerful and emotionally charged, was composed 130 years ago.

It provided the centre piece in a traditional sung Evensong service at the church, and it was appreciated by a congregation approaching 300 in number, who joined in with the five hymns.

The Mid Northumberland Chorus, led by Musical Director Paul Toward, was splendid in four part harmony.

Another distinct feature was So Thou Liftest Thy Divine Petition’ — a duet by soloists Philip Dixon (tenor) and Michael Gardner (baritone).

The service began and ended with two Passiontide hymns — There Is A Green Hill Far Away and When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.

And Peter Waugh, who provided the organ accompaniment, played Sigfrid Karg-Elert’s Nun Danket Alle Gott (Now Thank We All Our God) as the retiring voluntary.

The Rev Simon White, the Rector of Morpeth, said: “The whole of Stainer’s Crucifixion just takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions.

“It’s wonderful to have hosted the oratorio in this building in an Evensong service, and it just made the whole thing so much more purposeful.

“I thought it was amazing and the choir was fabulous with the way it led us through the service.”

The Rev White also touched on the finale of the Crucifixion in his praise of the music.

“After the words, ‘And he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost’, there is a silence before the final hymn and you could feel that everybody had really understood what Holy Week is all about,” he said.

“I thought it was a wonderful occasion and helped us to focus on the whole Easter journey.”