When commissioning a piece of music in memory of their cantor Clay Coleman III, who died last year, the members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church choir wanted a composer who’d be a good fit, so they chose someone they were familiar with.
Paul Leddington Wright, one of the conductors and arrangers of the BBC program Songs of Praise and the former music director of Coventry Cathedral, was tapped for the piece called Preces and Responses, which will be sung during St. Paul’s evensong service at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5.
“We had a relationship with Paul. We’ve had visiting choirs, and his choir from Coventry had been to Augusta,” said Keith Shafer, director of music at St. Paul’s.
Evensong is an evening service of prayers, psalms and hymns in the Anglican church. While it is sung daily in many Anglican churches around the world, St. Paul’s presents its evensong services about twice a year.
“It’s totally sung,” he said. “It’s not like a service with a sermon, and it’s done at a beautiful time of the day.”
The program will feature other songs Wright has composed including Mary’s Song and Simeon’s Song, composed for St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wheeling, W.V. The choir will be joined by its new cantor, William “Chip” Lamb.
Shafer said commissioning a piece can be tricky because the one commissioning the piece has certain expectations but at the same time doesn’t want to infringe on the composer’s creativity. Because they were already acquainted with Wright’s music, there was no disappointment.
“He exceeded our expectations,” he said. “It’s a very meaningful piece as well.”
The service is free and open to the public.
Shafer said it’s usually well-attended.
Evensong will last about an hour, and child care is provided. After the service, there will be a reception in Tyler Hall.
For more information, call (706) 724-2485 or visit saintpauls.org.