‘Islanded in Severn stream’ (a phrase the poet A E Housman actually used of Shrewsbury itself), Tewkesbury might have seemed an unpromising destination for the Choir’s now customary bi-annual evensong trip, but those medieval monks sure knew where to build. Evil-looking water lapped the edge of the cathedral car park where I left my car, but dared not encroach further, seemingly repelled by the divine force which emanated from the spectacular medieval pile glowering over it.
The Choir was on top form, singing to a select group of parents and friends, visitors and local evensong regulars. Musing, as we sang the psalm, on the good fortune which had brought us to the Abbey in the current apocalyptic weather, I was astonished to find myself singing (Psalm 29, v 9) the words ‘The Lord sitteth above the water flood’. Several of the Decani in the opposite stalls, perhaps singing more ‘in modo automatico’ seemed perplexed by my smile of recognition of this divine seal of approval for our presence in the Abbey.
This time the musical fare consisted of the trusty Reading Responses, Charles Wood’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, oozing Victorian rectitude, and Vaughan-Williams’ evergreen ‘O Clap your Hands’ whose soaring final encomium rolled around the massive Norman pillars of the Abbey. As ever, the accompaniment and voluntaries were magnificently executed by organist John Godwin, and Director of Chapel Music Alex Mason had every reason to be proud of his Choir, surely one of the jewels in the 21st century Salopian crown.