It was a joy to work with Ensemble Pro Victoria and Prof Magnus Williamson for our service on the 'Seven Joys of Mary' on Sunday, bringing to life some of the lost sound world of Tudor England with a series of reflections on the life of Christ and his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. If you missed it and would like to listen for yourself, the service will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 4pm on Wednesday 5 October. 

In the medieval period, private and public devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary were made by thousands of pilgrims every year here in the Lady Chapel in addition to the formal daily liturgical round of worship by the monks. It is very probable that some of these private devotions would have used meditations on the Joys of Mary. This form of prayer grew in popularity throughout the medieval period, and took the form of reflections on joyous moments in the life of Mary taken both from the Gospels and from later church tradition.

The Joys used in this service were taken from among 25 Joys that were written in English in a 15th-century manuscript that survives in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS Don D.85). They form a rare and fascinating window into Catholic English-language devotion in the period just before the English Reformation.

The choral part of the service was sung by Ensemble Pro Victoria formed in Cambridge in 2015 by Humphrey Thompson and Toby Ward, this group is an award-winning ensemble of early music specialists based in London. It has recently recorded a CD of music called ‘Tudor Music Afterlives’, bringing to life the sound world of life and worship across religious traditions in the period around the English reformation.

📷 Lorna Price, EPV