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“My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord”

by the Rev. Pamela Leach

A month after the choir tour to the UK, I still find myself singing these words in my head. Why? Because with these words, The Magnificat, Mary’s song found in Luke 1:46-55 begins and this song formed the core of the repertoire prepared by The Tudor Rose Ensemble for our UK tour. We spent months rehearsing 4 versions of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittus (Simeon’s song from Luke 2:29-32) along with numerous anthems, psalms, and hymns. All of the preparation was realized on July 14 at our first Evensong in Ripon, England.

Ripon Cathedral in Ripon, England

Evensong is a service of worship in the Anglican tradition. As their choirs take a break for the summer, touring choirs come from other countries to experience singing in those beautiful spaces. In all, we offered musical leadership to seven Evensong services and one Sunday morning worship service. These services took place at Ripon Cathedral in Ripon, England, and St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. We also had the opportunity to provide a noon concert at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh which is the mother church of Presbyterianism (yes, I had chills, or would have if the day had not been rather warm for those robes).

Tudor Rose Ensemble prepares for Evensong in the Quire at Ripon Cathedral.

Tudor Rose Ensemble prepares for Evensong in the Quire at Ripon Cathedral.

On top of rehearsals and services, our guides shuttled us to see London, York, St. Andrews, and other sights around Ripon and Edinburgh – all in 10 days. Are you tired just thinking about it? I am and I was. But, every moment singing God’s praise and enjoying Britain with this wonderful group was worth it.  

In The Magnificat, Mary sings, “He has filled the hungry with good things.” Through this trip, I have been fed good things – beautiful sights, glorious music, new friendships, and a renewed appreciation for Mary’s and Simeon’s songs. And I pray, that in our music we were able to reflect the light Simeon speaks of that “lightens the Gentiles and (is) the glory of the people Israel,” our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland

St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Tudor Rose Ensemble is a choir of 28 singers, including singers from the Chancel Choirs of First Presbyterian Church and Christ Episcopal Church, the Choir School of East Texas and the Tyler Civic Chorale. Recently, the ensemble, including Claudia Carroll, Bill Girard, Joan Curtis, Pamela Leach, Karin Morrow, Wes Schmidt, and Susan Sensenbach from FPC, traveled to perform in England and Scotland this summer. Former director of music ministries for FPC, Donald Duncan, conducted and Jeffrey Ford played the organ.