We celebrated the feast of St Edward the Confessor at his shrine on Westminster Abbey, together with the choir and clergy of the Abbey, just down the road from Westminster Cathedral. This annual event has become a key-note in the friendly relations between our two great churches. The liturgy comprises evensong sung by both choirs, followed by a procession of the Cathedral and Abbey clergy to the shrine. There, in a moving ceremony, the shrine is incensed, and prayers are said to St Edward. The shrine is one of a handful that escaped the Reformation; because of his royal status, the body of St Edward was not removed, although the shrine was despoiled of its rich decoration.
Above, the choir of Westminster Abbey processes into the nave, followed by the choir of Westminster Cathedral.
On this solemn occasion, the clergy of Westminster Cathedral wear their fur cappas; St Edward is also a principal patron of Westminster Cathedral, and his feast is a Solemnity in the City of Westminster.
One of the remarkable features of the warm friendship between the Abbey and the Cathedral has been the links forged by the musicians of both Churches. The great organ of the Abbey (below) has been placed under the care of several musicians who have previously, or later, worked at the Cathedral.
Below, Matthew Martin, our own Assistant Master of Music, watches James O'Donnell, formerly Master of Music at the Cathedral, now fulfilling the equivalent role at the Abbey.
He is joined here by Robert Quinney, Assistant to James O'Donnell, who was previously Assistant Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral!
The list of organists at the Abbey also mentions Martin Baker, currently our own Master of Music. Note, too, some of the great names of the past: Orlando Gibbons, John Blow, and the sublime Henry Purcell.
But the future holds great promise also: below Matthew Martin (right) and Oliver Brett (left) our current Organ scholar, and the resourceful originator of these photographs.
Following the ceremony, the Dean kindly invited us for refreshments in his own rooms, and there speeches were made praising the beauty of the music from the two choirs, extolling the friendship between our two institutions, and, above all, giving thanks to St Edward the Confessor, who from heaven intercedes for us, and prays that we may join him together in heaven to praise the one God who is King of us all.