A guide to choral services

An introduction to the choral services you will find in most Anglican and Roman Catholic choral foundations.

Services at most Anglican cathedrals

Mattins or Matins

Morning service with congregational input where some parts are sung, usually by the choir e.g. the Te Deum, Benedictus and Jubilate. These are known as the morning canticles. Many composers have set these to music, mainly for cathedral choirs, but in some churches where they are sung regularly the congregation will also join in. These congregational settings are simpler in nature, and usually only take place where the church has a history of congregational singing.

Sung Eucharist

The main Sunday service. Plenty of audience participation and the Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are generally set to music. Sometimes a psalm will be sung, usually by the choir, and there will always be congregational hymns.

Choral Evensong

A quiet, reflective service, very often with no sermon but with two bible readings and usually at least one psalm, sung by the choir. Evening canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) are also sung, as is an anthem and sometimes an introit. The organist will accompany the choir and congregation and also play music as the choir enters and leaves.

Services at most Roman Catholic cathedrals

Mass

Mass is the central act of worship, culminating in the celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist (which means ‘Thanksgiving’ in Greek). There are five parts of a Mass, all with Latin names as the Mass is normally sung in Latin (Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei). 

 

Vespers

Vespers is the evening prayer of thanksgiving and praise in Catholic and certain other Christian liturgies. Vespers and lauds (morning prayer) are the oldest and most important of the traditional liturgy of the hours. The antiphons, psalms, hymn and magnificats which are sung at this service have been set to music by many different composers.