The Martinus Cantorij at Westminster Abbey

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Westminster Abbey

On Friday, July 29th a long queue formed outside the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London. The statues of the Modern Martyrs looked down upon the assembled people as rain started to fall. The Martinus Cantorij from Zwaag in the Netherlands were about to sing Evensong at this most historic and sacred place. Ditte and I were in the queue as it shuffled slowly forward. Robed wardens ushered us into the Abbey, officially termed a ‘Royal Peculiar’ in the Church of England. As a warden approached us, Ditte produced a copy of Kerknieuws and said ‘I am the editor of the Kerknieuws, the Dutch Church magazine’. We were instantly and eagerly beckoned forward and escorted to the best seats in the house, the ‘Westminster Headmaster’s Pew’, adjacent to the choir. The view and the singing were superb. The Martinus Cantorij sang, among other works, Psalm 69 which was heavenly. The acoustics in the Abbey were excellent. As one looked up to the magnificent high vaulted ceilings and stirred by such beautiful sacred music, one realised that the original purpose of great cathedrals and churches was to inspire, stimulate and make one ponder on things eternal. With the help of the Martinus Cantorij, it worked.

Anne of Cleves, Elizabeth 1, Isaac Newton and Samuel Johnson all rest in Westminster Abbey. They too could have got closer to the delightful Dutch choir if they had had a copy of Kerknieuws.

Paul Donnelly