Weekend planner: A Downton-ish event downtown

Weekend planner: A Downton-ish event downtown

If you liked "Downton Abbey," you'll love Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church's 1662 Choral Evensong service at 4 p.m. Sunday, promises Mother Beth Maynard, priest at the church at 102 N. State St., C. The song texts come from the King James Bible and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, used in Anglican church services, and are set to music by some of the greatest composers in history. Here's more on the free Evensong Service, courtesy staff writer Melissa Merli:

1 Both Episcopal churches in Champaign-Urbana have done modern versions of the Evensong Service but as far as Maynard knows no one here has done the period piece her church will present Sunday. She said the text for the songs is some of the greatest in the English language, and will be sung or chanted by the church choir. The service will last 45 minutes. Bonus: The 1917 church. "It's an absolutely gorgeous architectural space and it's a space designed for this type of service. The visuals and the music will marry very well," Maynard said.

2 The choir will do nearly all of the singing but the congregation will have a couple of opportunities to join in, Maynard said. "One of the great things about the 1662 Evensong is it doesn't have the feeling that church services sometimes have," she added. "We won't ask you to stand up and introduce yourself. It's a very low-demand service where we can all meet on the grounds of beauty and rest and calm contemplation. It's a twilight service — it marks the transition from your day into your evening."

3 Maynard will lead the 1662 Evensong Service, with Geoffrey Williams, choirmaster, conducting the choir. Before he became a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois, Williams sang in midweek Evensong services at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Manhattan. Evensong services are enjoying a resurgence in Great Britain; attendance at midweek Evensong services there has increased by more than 60 percent over the past decade. College chaplains at Oxford and Cambridge also report more attendance at the early evening services, according to The Telegraph newspaper.

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