As the daylight fades today evening, the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady will host a very particular kind of worship service. As in recent years, a one-of-a-kind Vespers prayer will mix with silent meditation, sacred music and scripture readings. Two choirs – the Diocesan Choir and the Cathedral Schola of Macau – will lead the choral portion of the service.
In addition to prayer, the rundown of the Choral Vespers includes works by composers such as Menegali, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Johann Sebastian Bach or Robert Southwell, the Cathedral Schola’s choirmaster, António K. Wong, told O Clarim: “The program includes short readings, prayers, hymns and small choral pieces in English, Cantonese and Latin. And, of course, silent meditation,” Wong tells us. “It took about two months for both choirs to prepare for the Vespers. We hope to contribute to the parish with this opportunity to reflect on the Lenten season, so to prepare ourselves to celebrate Easter,” the choirmaster adds.
Taking part in the Choral Vespers is not exactly a novelty for the Cathedral Schola of Macau. Two years ago, the choir led the choral portion of the service in a similar initiative that took place in Saint Joseph’s Seminary and Church: “It is not totally new. The Cathedral Schola has organised a similar worship service two years ago at the seminary chapel. This time, we are doing this with the Diocesan Choir, a youth choir which aims to provide liturgical music training to kids aged 6 to 14,” Wong says.
The participation in the evening prayer service, the Cathedral Schola’s choirmaster maintains, is an opportunity for both groups. Mr. Wong claims that the last two months contributed to the deepening of the spiritual formation of the members of the choir that he leads: “We believe that this process of preparation and of conducting the Vespers has brought great benefits to our spiritual formation. As a liturgical choir, we place ourselves at the service of God through this specific role in the liturgy, and we are constantly renewing ourselves through the sacraments we receive,” Wong says. The choirmaster concludes, “We also hope to be able to promote ourselves to the people, with the expectation that more musically-inclined people will join us on this journey. We are all instruments of God.”
Also called Evening Prayer, Vespers are one of the four elements of universal prayer that make up the “Liturgy of the Hours”. The service is to be conducted at dusk, when the day fades and darkness sets in.