About this event
When the Abbey of St Edmund was established in the year 1020, the glorious sounds that rang through its mighty arches were those of plainsong, the already ancient musical treasure of the Church. Plainsong would be sung by the monks every day in the cycle of the daily services known as the “offices.” The great abbeys of Christendom shared the experience of these uplifting yet strangely calming sounds. The Abbey of St Edmund, one of the greatest of them all, would have rung with this music day and night.
In 1915 the great Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov turned aside from the writing of his magnificent piano concertos and symphonies, and focused on the plainsong tunes of a chain of services known as “the All-Night Vigil”, (but often referred to as the “Vespers”) weaving a rich and complex galaxy of choral sound around the plainsong tunes – a kind of choral “orchestra” with the choir sometimes in as many as twelve parts, but always built around the ancient plainsong tunes.
As the sun goes down on Friday 27th May, The English Arts Chorale and Eye Bach Choir sing an hour’s glorious choral music from this magnificent and awe-inspiring galaxy of sound in the most appropriate of all venues – St Edmundsbury Cathedral. With an atmosphere more that of a liturgical event than a concert, admission to this remarkable and rare event is free of charge.
Free Entry. No booking required.
Part of the Abbey 1000 celebrations to celebrate 1,000 years since the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds. For more Abbey 1000 events see our Abbey 1000 Guide.
About the Venue
For over 1,000 years, the site of Suffolk ’s Cathedral has been one of worship and pilgrimage.
The death of Edmund, King of the East Angles, at the hands of the Danes in 869 led to the building of an abbey to house his remains. St James’s Church was built within the precincts of the Abbey, becoming a Cathedral in 1914. The Cathedral building has continued to develop over recent years with the addition of the Millennium Tower, completed in 2005, and its magnificent painted and gilded vault, added in 2010. In 2009 the Cathedral changed its dedication to become the Cathedral Church of St James and St Edmund.
Visitors are welcome to look around the Cathedral on their own. Entry is free but donations gratefully received. A free introductory leaflet is available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Polish. Visitors are most welcome to attend any of the daily services. Guided Tours of the Cathedral run Monday to Friday at 11am daily from the font. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, tours are currently limited to 5 people per tour. Tickets can be purchased at the Cathedral Shop. Occasionally a tour may have to be cancelled if another event is taking place in the Cathedral. If you are travelling some distance, please do ring the Cathedral office to check. These tours last approx 1 hour and cost £5 per person (under 16s free).
St Edmundsbury Cathedral Tower Tours - Experience a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of St Edmundsbury Cathedral's Millennium Tower with fun and knowledgeable guides. Explore heady heights with amazing views from the top of the tower, the highest point in Bury St Edmunds! Don’t forget your camera!
St Edmund Statue by Dame Elisabeth Frink - A trip to Bury St Edmunds would not be complete without a photo of the iconic St Edmund statue by Dame Elisabeth Frink. The statue can be found outside in the Great Churchyard of the Cathedral.
Cathedral Lego Project - St Edmundsbury Cathedral has launched an ambitious project to recreate the Cathedral out of 200,000 LEGO bricks! Visitors can see the Lego Cathedral being built before their eyes and donate a brick to be part of this amazing project. The Lego Cathedral is located in the South West corner of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Opening times may vary based on volunteer availability.
The Ancient Library - The Ancient Library was founded by Dr Miles Mosse in 1595 as a resource for clergy training. There are over 550 books, mainly printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The library, in a room over the north-west porch designed by Stephen Dykes Bower in 1960, has bookcases made by Leonard Goff in 2004. If you would like to visit the library, please contact the librarian through the Cathedral Office on email@example.com or 01284 748730.
Pilgrim's Kitchen - after touring the Cathedral why not relax with a cuppa at the Cathedral's cafe?