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Four Brisbane choirs combined to celebrate St Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, to mark her November feast-day.

The program notes stated St Cecilia converted her pagan husband to Christianity, then converted persecutors who came to arrest her (176-180 AD). Her executioner fled after his third attempt to behead her. Despite this, “she is said to have sung to God in her heart as she lay dying”.

It’s alleged 16th century painters were the first to link her with music – assuming that as she sang in her body while dying, “so she takes part in giving glory to God when musical instruments are sounded”. The St Cecilia Academy for musicians was founded in Rome in 1584. Music festivals in her honour were established in Normandy (1570) and eventually in England (1683).

The Evensong provided a rich smorgasbord of music composed by Palestrina, Skjavetic, Purcell and Philips.

Given it was a glorious Evensong by four choirs, it’s hard to say which is sadder: a congregation of about 40, or, not enough orders of service for the congregation.

Venue: St Augustine’s, Hamilton.

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