The service can be done very simply – at a minimum, with two singers and the music consisting only of Gregorian chant – or very elaborately with a trained choir singing polyphony. If you have internet access, you can listen to Evensong live on the BBC Radio 3, which has been broadcasting weekly Evensongs continuously since 1926. The venues are predominantly cathedrals and collegiate chapels, many with famous choirs with international reputations. In some of these buildings the praises of God have been sung daily for several hundred years. When sung by a trained choir, Choral Evensong does not abound in congregational participation, but is something that the choirs offer every day to God, whether there is any congregation there to hear it or not. The congregation may sing a hymn and join in the Creed, said prayers and responses, but otherwise they participate primarily by prayerful listening and contemplation. The commentator Guy Hayward writes: “The fact that Evensong has had such a long evolution means that one has a powerful sense of connecting present with past, of tapping into something much greater than ourselves. As we come together in a church at the end of the day we join a vast community enduring both through time and in the same place, by acting in the same way as countless people have done before us for over a thousand years.”
I suggest checking out the BBC Radio 3 website when you have a half-hour to spare. The broadcast Evensongs are now archived for some weeks, so that you can listen to them any time you want to. I also recommend putting Friday evening, October 14th on your calendar, when the choral scholars of Nashotah House will sing Evensong for us, conducted by Fr. Alexander Pryor. I will be returning to play the organ for that and for the other services of the Walsingham Pilgrimage this year.