A Crown of Prayer and Praise

20th - 27th August 2023

Find the leaflet for this year’s Festival here.

Our theme is based on the seven-sonnet sequence “La Corona” by John Donne. The sequence follows the course of the Church year,  moving from the Annunciation to the Ascension, with each sonnet’s final line becoming the first line of the next – evoking not a kingly crown but the crown of thorns.

We will also be celebrating the 400th anniversary this year of one of the country’s greatest composers, William Byrd.  The festival will feature his works in every choral service, woven into the liturgy in Evensong, the Eucharist and Matins as well as a variety of music from other periods.

In fact, Donne and Byrd have more in common than deep spiritual faith and towering creativity; both were born Catholic, and while William Byrd kept to his Catholic faith as a Recusant in the face of great personal danger, his younger contemporary John Donne was later ordained in the Church of England, becoming Dean of St Paul’s in 1621.  Donne’s rich imagery provides an ideal counterpoint to the vibrant and emotionally charged music of Byrd.