on April 17, 2013
We spent the afternoon exploring Westminster Abbey and decided to go to the Evensong service there. Evensong is the most beautiful of services, with wonderful music and singing. It is at 5pm every day - Monday to Friday. I am not sure about the timings at the weekend.If you want to explore the Abbey, you have to pay the entrance charge. There is, of course, no charge for people coming here to worship and take part in the service.We came out of the Abbey at 4.30 (I think we could have stayed inside, had we told them we were planning to attend the service), and saw there was a large queue formed by the gates at the entrance. We joined this queue, mainly made up of foreign tourists. At 4.45 a bell rang, a verger opened the gate and we were allowed to go inside the Abbey. We had to stand at the side though and were not taken through to our seats until about 10 minutes before the service started.I would definitely advise getting there early - no later than 4.30 if you want to attend this service. People who come later do get in, but they are seated a lot further away and have limited views.Westminster Abbey is not a cathedral - it has never been the seat of a bishop. It is administered directly by the crown and is known as a "royal peculiar." While we were standing waiting to take our seats at Evensong, I thought about the last big event I watched here at the Abbey - the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011.Eventually we were taken to our seats. This happened in a brisk, efficient way - some of the vergers were a bit snappy and impatient, certainly not friendly and calm, in how they addressed people and got them to move along.Initially I was a bit disappointed, the choir stall seats had filled up by the time we got to the front, but we did get very good seats - the row behind where the Queen sat at the Royal Wedding. There are large screens dotted around the ends of the rows, so even if you are further back, they connect you with what is happening at the front.The Abbey choir usually sing at this service, however it was Easter Monday and they had the week off. Portsmouth Cathedral Choir did the honours instead - they were marvellous and sang beautifully.The service sheets are on the seats, the service is taken from the Book of Common Prayer, the language is old fashioned and poetic and it was all just beautiful. The congregation do not play a large role in the service, but there is one hymn at the end to join in with.The whole service takes around 40 minutes. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend attending. Not sure our 9 year old felt exactly the same, but with no sermon and just 40 minutes of sitting patiently, even he did not complain too much.
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