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My Soul Doth Magnify

There is a popular practice of Anglican choral evensong in the Netherlands outside the context of the Anglican Church. Dutch choirs perform the Anglican ‘daily prayer’ liturgy: with preces and responses, psalms, canticles, hymns and an anthem, as well as lessons and spoken prayers. Choral evensong attracts many people: believers (of all denominations), ex-believers and non-believers. This paradox, the popularity of choral evensong in a so-called secularized country such as the Netherlands, attracts attention and raises questions. What exactly is going on here? Why is choral evensong so popular in contemporary society? The central topic of the research presented in this volume is the appropriation of Anglican choral evensong within the Dutch context in relation to religious dynamics in Dutch culture.

Dr Hanna Rijken (theologian and musician) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam. She also teaches Liturgical Studies at the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music (Codarts). She is initiator and artistic leader of the ‘Vocaal Theologen Ensemble’ and initiator of the ecumenical Choral Evensong & Pub in Utrecht.

‘In this remarkable, ground-breaking and important work, Hanna Rijken expertly guides us through the fascinating and paradoxical phenomenon of the rise in popularity and appropriation of Anglican Choral Evensong in the Netherlands since the 1980s. Dr Rijken is uniquely qualified in this ethnographic task, as a musician, minister and scholar. The result is not only a rigorously researched thesis but also an accessible and enjoyable exploration of how, in a ‘post-secular’ country, the beauty, sacrality, rituality and, of course, music of Choral Evensong appeal to a wide sector of society, including atheists, agnostics and believers, that seeks this transcendental and transformative experience. This is a wonderful book for our age.’

Revd Dr Jonathan Arnold, Director of Communities and Partnerships, Diocese of Canterbury, UK. Author of Sacred Music in Secular Society (2014) and Music and Faith: Conversations in a Post-Secular Age (2019). Dr Arnold has been Dean of Divinity and a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.

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