The Quiristers and Winchester College Chapel Choir made their biennial journey to Eton this week to commemorate Amicabilis Concordia – an agreement made in 1444 between Winchester College, Eton College, New College, and King's College.
Sitting in the magnificent and imposing surroundings of Eton's chapel, it is difficult to believe that Henry VI's original intention was to build a chapel twice as big, nor that the fan vaulting was only constructed in the 1950s.
The service began with the echoing choirs singing Tavener's Hymn to the Mother of God – most appropriate for a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
In keeping with the combined service held in May at King's, Cambridge, the choirs continued with Leighton and Herbert Howells. The soaring joyous spirit of the Magnificat from the latter's St Paul’s Service and the stately majesty and exultation of his Nunc Dimitis fitted seamlessly in a church slightly smaller than St Paul’s.
The quiet intensity of Like as the Hart followed the Responses. To close, the Founder's prayer was sung with gentle harmonious beauty to the setting by Henry Ley.
In the words from the final hymn: “Craftman’s art and music's measure for thy pleasure all combine". This was a wonderful service flowing from the union of two great choirs.