Service (music)

Service (music)

In Anglican church music, a Service is a musical setting of certain parts of the liturgy, generally for choir with or without organ accompaniment.

Liturgical services

Morning Prayer

Evening Prayer

Holy Communion

This follows the Book of Common Prayer. Modern Anglican liturgy has largely reverted to the order of the Roman Catholic Mass.

Full service and other services

A "Full Service" includes all three of these groups. But with the demise of daily "Matins" (choral morning prayer) from the Anglican liturgy and the reduction of the choral element in communion services composers are now more likely only to set the evening service.

The "Burial Service" (see Requiem) is sometimes set separately.


In the Tudor and early Stuart periods, services were described as "Short", "Great" or "Verse" services:

  • Verse services incorporated sections for solo voices.
  • short services were simple settings for four-part choir which could be sung a cappella.
  • Great Services (of which the most famous is that by William Byrd) were long and elaborate and presumably kept for special occasions.

Following the Restoration this classification gradually broke down and services became known by the key in which they were written; hence the common shorthand terminology "Purcell in G minor" or "Stanford in B flat".

From the twentieth century, compositions are often named after the college chapel or cathedral for which they were written: examples are the Collegium Magdalenae Oxoniense of Kenneth Leighton for Magdalen College, Oxford and the Gloucester Service of Herbert Howells for Gloucester Cathedral.

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