Cathedral services of choral Evensong in England appear to be burgeoning. Now a research project launched in Oxford is set to try to find out why. While church attendance is declining generally, that is not so for cathedral attendance, especially at Christmas.

The research project to be led by musicologist Kathryn King of Magdalen College, Oxford, will study what people attend Evensong, what it means to them, and whether something about current times influences them.

King hoped to learn more about the motivations of evensong worshipers and about the role of cathedral music in the early 21st century. She said listener data showing a 35 percent rise sine 2007 in BBC Radio 3’s choral Evensong broadcasts triggered her curiosity.

King said: “The findings of this research will, I hope, offer original insights into the lives and minds of today’s choral Evensong-goers, shed new light on the real-time experience of listening to sacred music in sacred settings, and advance our understanding of the possibilities and potential of cathedral music, at Evensong and beyond.”

John Martin

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