Quiristers are admitted to the College
Tuesday evening saw the Dubbing of three new Quiristers at Evensong in the Winchester College Chapel: Ivor L, Henry S-M and Will W. The Headmaster admitted them to the College, and the current Head Qs placed their white surplices over their heads and led them arms-aloft to their places in the Choir.
The Qs have been part of the College’s Chapel Choir since 1382 when William of Wykeham made provision for 16 young boys to sing in the Chapel. They sing the soprano parts, while the lower parts are sung by staff and pupils of the College, many of whom have been Qs themselves (our new Headmaster, Tim Butcher, is himself a former Head Q).
After the Dubbing, the congregation took part in Evensong, the most musical of the weekly services in which the Qs sing. It is a particularly beautiful service, consisting largely of the singing of a psalm, responses, anthem and hymn and two canticles – the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis - to a variety of settings by different composers.
On Wednesday the focus was on early music. The setting of the canticles was by William Byrd (d.1623) and the choir were accompanied by Ben Cunningham playing the chamber organ, an instrument more in keeping with the period than the full-size Chapel organ. The anthem by Orlando Gibbons (d. 1625) was sung in polyphony, a kind of singing going back to the Middle Ages, where different parts of the choir sing different lines of melody at the same time.
Evensong takes place on Tuesdays at 5.30pm in the College Chapel and all Pilgrims’ staff and parents are welcome.