Which Preces and Responses Setting Are You?
Musical settings of the versicles and responses at Evensong have never gotten the respect they deserve. Anglican church musicians wax eloquent on the merits of their favourite canticle settings and anthems, but frequently treat the singing of the responses as a grim duty to be fulfilled as quickly as possible. Comparatively modest in scale and in musical complexity, even the most elaborate settings of the responses cannot compete with the vocal pyrotechnics and thunderous organ accompaniment of Parry's "I was glad," Howells's St Paul's Service, or Arnold in A. Yet it is the responses, not the canticles or anthem, that articulate the structure of Evensong, and that provide the listener with a first impression of the liturgy. A service that opens with a clearly-enunciated and energetic performance of the responses signals the listeners to attend carefully to the liturgical text of the Office that will follow; a service that opens with the asthmatic wheeze of "O Lord, open thou our lips" followed by an obviously unrehearsed and out-of-tune rendition of the choral responses will encourage the listeners to attend to quite different matters, such as the location of the nearest pub and whether or not they left the oven on. It is hoped that, aside from enhancing your self-knowledge, this quiz will provide an initial step in the rehabilitation of responses as a venerable and liturgically crucial musical genre.