The Edington Music Festival has always been the most exhausting way of spending a week’s holiday. At the same time it remains a thrilling and exhilarating experience. For one week one is swept into a community to live and worship together. Its intensity compensates for its transience. The Festival moves into the routine of Edington parish life as swiftly as it leaves it. But within the week there is something more than a mere echo of Edington’s corporate life under the Bonshommes, for here is a living – albeit specialised – corporate liturgy.
Over the years, the Festival has become increasingly concerned with the place of music in the liturgy. This year’s Festival continues to maintain the daily round of Matins, Solemn Eucharist, Evensong and Compline. In addition to the Opus Dei there are two freer services – Sequences of Reading and Music. And within the pattern of daily Solemn Eucharist come two highlights. On Tuesday and Sunday Grayston Ives’ new Mass commissioned for the Festival is to be sung. And on Friday music for the new, third series of Holy Communion receives its first performance. The Liturgical Commission invited John Rutter to write this music, and Canon Jasper has kindly agreed that it should receive its first performance at this year’s Festival.
In so intense a week of music the Festival might forget its visitors. There is so great a spirit generated amongst the participants that it is easy for the congregation to be passed over. The domination of the services by priests and choirs makes the hymn included at the Offertory in both the Eucharist and Evensong all the more important as a moment of total, active participation. However, the Festival now has a nucleus of regular visitors who find great value in silent participation in worship through the skill of others. To these are added many new friends of the Festival. To all of them Edington continues to offer the same limited facilities. As ever, the Priory Field car park will become inaccessible if it rains hard, and there will be the perennial shortage of toilet accommodation. However, the good ladies of Edington will be providing refreshments at stated times in the Church car park, and snacks will be available at the George Inn and the Lamb Inn which also serves teas. A map outside the Church indicates where all these facilities are to be found.
But the Festival has never been designed to be a social amenity, it has far greater intentions. In one week a group of people live, work and worship together to the best of their ability. I hope that everyone who enters Edington Priory Church during the Festival week may be touched by this corporate spirit and drawn into its worship.