All Saints’ Evensong will mark 130th anniversary

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Parishioners at All Saints Episcopal Church in Bay Head circa 1909. All Saints will culminate celebrations commemorating its 130th anniversary with a special Evensong service Sunday. [COURTESY OF GERALD HARVEY]

BAY HEAD — Celebrations commemorating the 130th anniversary of All Saints Episcopal Church will culminate Sunday with an ancient service with deep roots in the Anglican tradition.

Choral Evensong for the Feast of the Epiphany will be presented Jan. 5 at 5 p.m. in the church, 500 Lake Ave. The theme of the service will center on the star and the arrival of the Three Kings at the manger. A reception will follow in Bristol Hall. 

Evensong is an ancient service of readings, psalms and canticles usually sung at twilight as the sun sets, according to parish officials. Its origins date back to the very formation of the Episcopal Church in the sixteenth century as it was already codified in the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549.

“The church identifies several places throughout the day that are deemed sacred and appropriate for special prayer … and in the Book of Common Prayer there is morning prayer, the noon prayer, evening prayer [at sunset] and compline [at the close of the day] and Evensong is evening prayer that is sung and there are so many wonderful musical settings to it,” Rev. Robert A. Nagy said Tuesday.

“The service does not include Holy Communion, this is not a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, it is a service that marks the time the setting of the sun, the close of the daylight time and settling in and beginning the evening activities.

“Evensong is an ancient tradition and it is used throughout the world in cathedrals on Sunday evenings but there are also other churches that do it on a regular basis. This is not a service that is done commonly here at All Saints Episcopal Church, in fact, this is the first time since I have been here now for four years that we have done it, and we hope that maybe it will be done on a greater frequency to mark special occasions, which is what this one is doing. 

“This is the third of three musical offerings that celebrate our 130 years of ministry in Bay Head, this one being the last one and concludes the celebration of our wonderful time as we give thanks to God for the opportunity to minister in the community.”

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