After several flight delays, we finally made it to Edinburgh, Scotland. By the time we got there, everyone was exhausted from the five-hour flight. We picked up our bags at baggage claim and our tour director, Andy, led us out of the airport and to our coach. Our coach driver, Brian, drove us through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and we got food at a gift shop. I bought a hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream and a plush Scottish terrier. Before we got back on the bus, we sang “Loch Lomond” on the shores of Loch Lomond. We didn’t have much of an audience, but some birds \240tried to sing with us.

Next we drove to the Edinburgh Castle, home to the Scottish Crown Jewels (also known as the Honours of Scotland). They wouldn’t let us take pictures of the jewels, unfortunately, but we still got to look at them. Plus, the castle had plenty of other exciting things we could take pictures of like the prison, the museums, and the weaponry. My favorite part was definitely seeing the Crown Jewels though.

After we finished up there, we headed back to the hotel to get settled and unpack our things. I even got my own room! The day finished with us going out to eat at Wildwood. We all ate mixed green salads, marinated chicken, and for dessert, chocolate honeycomb fudge cake.

It’s been a long day but so far I am enjoying myself.


This morning, we left the hotel at 9:30 and \240headed for Greyfriar’s, a chapel near Edinburgh Castle. Before we got there, we learned about Greyfriar’s Bobby, a dog who stayed at his owner’s grave for years after he passed away. When we got to the church, we got to take pictures of his memorial.

The church we went to was small, but very pretty. It had a pipe organ, detailed glass paintings, and even a large enough performance space for us. We had rehearsal for about fifty minutes and then the service began. We sang a few of our songs prepared for the trip (including my personal favorite “Come Traveler, Haste Away”) and some hymns as well. Despite being in a different country, the service wasn’t too different from church services back home. They had plenty of prayers, hymns, book readings, and a benediction at the end. There was also another choir that sang with us and they sounded good as well. After the service, we were invited to mingle and have tea and biscuits with the church patrons.

We had some free time before our next location so I went to get lunch with a small group. We ate at this really nice club our tour guide recommended to us. I ordered a cheddar cheese sandwich with chips (fries).

After lunch, we walked to Edinburgh’s by Methodist church where we were given a tour, even though it was more of a lecture. Our guide brought us into the worship room and started informing us how Methodism started and facts about two important composers in Methodist music, Jon and Charles Wesley. She even asked us what we knew about Methodism, and since my group is going to be on music in the Methodist church, I shared some facts of my own. Then we went upstairs to the exhibition and learned some more interesting facts on Methodist churches. For example, each Methodist Society was divided into classes and the leaders of said classes were responsible for contributing to the poor. I took plenty of photos of the exhibition including the Covenant prayer, which included some nostalgic lyrics for Dr Ryder.

When we finished at the church we had some more free time so I went to some stores to buy a power adapter and a hot chocolate. Then at 5:30 we gathered at St. Gile’s chapel for a piano recital performed by Alexandre Prévert.

The recital was titled “Which romantic are you?” and the theme of all of the songs played was romance. The setting we were in was definitely appropriate for this since it was a quiet, beautiful, old chapel. On the other hand, the seats weren’t organized in the best way. While most of them were facing the performance space, some were backed against the wall, where people most likely couldn’t see anything. However, the performance space was in the middle, so I imagine everyone could see.

The music for the performance was really well done. All of the pieces were played magnificently and it was clear the performer had practiced a lot. There were five total pieces in the program. The first few pieces I was unfamiliar with but I knew some parts of the last two. Despite having a small number of songs in the program, the concert lasted for more than an hour. One reason for that was the performer gave speeches related to each piece before playing them. I didn’t really understand them all that much, but I was impressed on how much he could say about each composition.

Another reason the recital was long was that the songs themselves were fairly long. The piece played in the middle, “Waltz from Gounod’s Faust”, sounded like it had a dozen movements and each one had a different style. At first, it sounded like an actual waltz song but then it became slower and sweeter. Then it got faster and more dramatic. Eventually it just got random until it returned to its original waltz style. Another song that was even longer than that was “Scherzo n02”. Not only was it longer and more random than its proceeding song, it had several places where it sounded like it should have ended but it didn’t. Despite the long performances and confusing monologues, I enjoyed the concert.

Our day finished with us eating dinner at Hector’s. We started off with some lentil soup with potatoes. I didn’t like it very much but I ate some anyway. Our entree was a butternut squash Rossetti (which in my opinion, was much better than the soup) and for dessert we had cream puffs. I am excited to see Middlesbrough tomorrow but I’m also completely exhausted. I am looking forward to a good night’s sleep.


Our driver Brian left us today and we got a new driver, Robert. Andy said he would be our driver for the rest of the time we were here. I didn’t mind too much but I was grateful to have had Brian as our driver for a while. We left the hotel early in the morning, ready to leave Scotland and head for the Middlesbrough area.

It was a 3-4 hour drive so Dr Ryder told my group to give our presentation on music in Methodist churches. We went up to the front of the bus and took turns speaking into the microphone. The three topics we discussed were Methodist churches we were going to visit, the Wesley brothers, and the comparison between Methodist and Anglican music.

Andrew was the first to present his findings on the Methodist locations we were planning to visit. The four locations he talked about were the Edinburgh Methodist church (which we already visited), Aldersgate Flame, Wesley Chapel, and Charles Wesley’s house. We learned plenty at Edinburgh Methodist such as its emphasis on choral tradition since it was founded. Aldersgate Flame was important because it marks where Jon Wesley had his conversion experience and marks the beginning of the Methodist movement and its musical contributions. Wesley Chapel was the first Methodist meeting house to allow for Holy Communion and obviously it was named after the Wesley brothers. Charles Wesley’s house, while not a church, was important because it is where he raised his two child prodigies, Charles Jr. and Samuel and they both would grow up to become musicians.

Next, Jeff talked about the contributions of the Wesley brothers. Charles Wesley was one of Methodism’s most famous musicians because he was responsible for writing over eight thousand of its hymns. These hymns include but are certainly not limited to, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”, and “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” Despite his many contributions, Charles considered himself Anglican until his death, mostly because his hymns were largely associated with Anglicanism. As for his brother John, he focused more on how hymns should be sung rather than writing them.

I was the last one to present my findings. I chose to discuss the similarities and differences between Methodist music and Anglican music. Unsurprisingly, there were more similarities than differences. One example of the former is both Methodist and Anglican music value hymns as more than music, but their purpose is to worship God rather than the sound. Both styles of music are sung by choirs either a capella or with an organ accompaniment and congregational participation is included for both as well. A difference between the two is Methodist music is often taken home while Anglican isn’t. Anglicans also tend to perform more anthems and psalms as well as hymns.

After a very long drive, we finally arrived at Durham Cathedral. When we got there, one of the very nice ministers gave us a tour of the place. He took us through some exhibits and artwork and even described some of the architecture. The columns were really well made and they even had zigzag patterns on them. My favorite part of the tour was when we got to a statue of a pelican with nails in its body and it was giving its blood to its young. The minister said it was a representation of Christ giving life (blood) to us with the nails representing Christ and the birds representing us mortals.

We toured the cathedral for about an hour before we got back on the bus and drove to High House Chapel and Weardale Museum. Both were very small buildings but we were given a tour of them anyway. Unfortunately, our group was too large to fit in each room so we split up into two groups. My group went into the museum first. There were only four small rooms in the whole building, but they still had plenty of interesting props and tapestries to admire. I especially liked the tapestries as they were incredibly detailed. Once we got a look around, we got called back into the church and we learned more about John Wesley and how he got into outdoor preaching due to being unable to preach indoors because he wasn’t allowed to in established churches. Apparently, he attended the church quite a lot when he was alive. We finished up there by singing a few of Wesley’s hymns (like Hark the Herald!) as well as one of our favorite songs, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”


We got on the road early in the morning. Our first stop of the day was at the Octagonal Methodist church in Yarm. This was apparently John Wesley’s favorite church. The church was made octagonal because John preferred the shape of an octagon, stating it was “better for acoustics and there was no corner for the devil to hide in.” There was also an arch built in the middle of the octagon to give choirs their own space to sing in. After we were informed more about the church’s origin story, we were invited to have coffee, tea, and biscuits. Then we sang a few songs for them since we needed the extra rehearsal before our concert tomorrow.

We stopped in Whitby to get some lunch before getting back on the bus and driving to York. On the way, we saw Saint Mary’s church and the remains of Whitby Abbney. According to our itinerary, Whitby Abbney was founded by Abbess Hilda in the year 657 and it is where a famous poet named Caedmon sang his “Song of Creation.” The site was destroyed about two hundred years later. Saint Mary’s Church was originally built as a Norman church in 1110 A.D. and it overlooks the River Esk. We stopped to take some pictures before we got back on the road.

It was another hour before we got to York and checked in at our next hotel. By the time we got there it had started snowing so Andy told us to wear appropriate clothing before we went to dinner. He also told us we weren’t going to use the coach the next day so we had to take our robes with us.

Without a coach, we had to walk to get dinner. We went to this place called Ye Old Starre Inn where we ate salad, some kind of meat pie, and apple pie for dessert. Of course, I don’t eat meat so I got some kind of cheese pie with beets on top. The dessert was the best though. It was some homemade apple tart with vanilla custard \240and it was amazing!


As usual, we got up early and ate breakfast at our hotel before we left. The only difference this time was we didn’t have a coach to drive us so we had to walk. It was really cold and windy out but at least it wasn’t snowing like it was in Edinburgh. While we were walking, I took pictures of the pretty architecture.

We walked for about ten minutes and then we got to York Minister. I have to say it was probably the biggest church we’ve been to so far because our tour guide told us it could fit up to five whales if it was filled with water. Apparently, it could seat up to 2000 people, making it a perfect performance space for choirs. The most prominent part of York Minister was its glass windows. Our tour guide told us they had to be cleaned panel by panel and that it would take one person sixteen weeks just to clean one of the panels. I thought that was insane. The tour guide also told us about their nativity scene and how they would have characters from the story placed all over the chapel and have them moved closer and closer to the display every day. He also mentioned that this lasted until the beginning of February, after Christmas was over, since the Christmas season lasts longer in the United Kingdom.

When the tour was over, we didn’t have any time to explore the rest of York because we needed to rehearse for our concert that day. We walked across the street to York Central Methodist Church where we were performing. We had an hour to rehearse before the concert. At first, we were worried that no one would show up since it wasn’t like we could invite family to see us. Luckily, after we got changed into our robes, some people were sitting in the pews. It wasn’t as big a turnout as most of our concerts, but it was better than nothing. Of course, Dr Ryder would make us sing no matter what, since we needed rehearsal time for the rest of our concerts.

The concert setting was mostly okay but one thing I didn’t like was how much performance space we were given. While there was plenty of space between us singers, there wasn’t much space between us and the audience. I wasn’t too bothered by this, but I am used to singing a good distance away from the audience so it was a bit of a change for me. Also, the acoustics in the room weren’t the best and I wished we were performing at the York Minister instead since it had a huge empty room with amazing acoustics.

Despite all this, I sang just fine with everyone else. I messed up a few times on lyrics, but I felt confident enough to not look at most of the music. I think the song we did the best on was “Wondrous Love” because our balance was incredible and our timing was good too. I noticed we messed up a little at the end of “If Ye Love Me” though so hopefully we will have more time to fix that.

My back and feet ached when the concert was over so I was glad to get a little break afterwards. We took a 40-minute lunch break and then we met back up to go to the Abbney Garden. It wasn’t as interesting as what we saw yesterday, but it was still nice and I took pictures anyway. After that, we all had a couple hours of free time to explore York. We went to a few shops and a few of us attended the Evensong at York Minister. Overall, it was a fine service and the child singers were cute too. Some of the hymns they sang only used one note though and that did bother me a little bit.

As always, we finished the day with dinner. This time, we went to a place called “Slug & Lettuce” (yes, really). For our entree, we had smothered chicken and peas and chocolate caramel bars. There were also some fried mushroom things but I didn’t eat them. When we finished our meal, we walked back to the hotel. On that note, I’m glad we get to use the coach again tomorrow because my feet are sore.


Today we left York and headed for Oxford, the founding city of Methodist. We were going to visit and tour Lincoln College (the place where John and Charles Wesley studied) when we arrived. It was a long drive to get there so I took a nap on the bus. We stopped to get some refreshments after a little while so I got a hot chocolate with gingerbread flavoring. It didn’t taste that good but I still drank it because I was cold.

We had another presentation on the bus today. This time it was on English Churches and Cathedrals and it was presented by Russel, Seth, and Caroline. Russel started off by talking about the designs of these churches. He mentioned they were built in many different times (such as the Saxon-Norman period, the Middle Ages, and the Gothic period) and each period had specifically designed churches and cathedrals. For example, Saxon-Norman period churches made use of internal vaulting and Middle Aged churches had wide, open spaces. We also learned how many of these cathedrals were destroyed after the reformation.

Next, Seth talked about the English cathedrals we visited and were going to visit. Some of these included Edinburgh Methodist, Wesley Methodist Church, and Durham Cathedral. During his portion of the presentation, Seth mostly gave fun facts about these churches. One fact he brought up was that Wells Cathedral was the first English cathedral to be built in a Gothic style. He also said that Durham Cathedral used rib vaults, which supported the weight of the building.

Finally, Caroline “quizzed” us on what we learned. Some of the questions she asked included “which churches have vaults?” and “which churches have Gothic arches?” She also asked about our favorite types of churches and other opinion-based questions. The challenge the group gave us was to find and take a picture of an alter, quire, or Gothic arch and include it in one of our blogs. So I took a picture of the arches in Wesley Methodist.

We finally arrived in Oxford an hour later. We got some lunch before we headed off to Lincoln College for our tour. Surprisingly, the college was smaller than I expected. Apparently, only 600 students attended the school, making it smaller than Randolph-Macon! And because the school was so small, the tour was very short. First we were invited into the dining room where a lot of pictures were hung on the wall. Then we went into the chapel which reminded me a lot of the chapel that we went to the night before during the Evensong. The only big difference was that this chapel had glass windows. Our final stop was in the John Wesley room, where Wesley spent most of his time studying. Unfortunately, it was dark in the room so I couldn’t take many pictures.

We walked over to Wesley Methodist church afterwards, where we were lectured more about how Methodism came about. What surprised me the most was learning that the church is even younger than our college, even after it was relocated. After the lecture, we were invited to explore a bit before we got back on the coach.

Our day finished at Café Rouge where we ate some strange, spicy concoction with butternut squash, spinach, corn, and other vegetables and for dessert, creme brûlée.


Our last stop in Oxford was the Christ Church College, the only school chapel that is also a Cathedral and also the largest Renaissance College. While there was more to see there than there was at Lincoln College, it was still a pretty small school. We didn’t have a tour guide to take us around so we looked around ourselves. While we were there, we had the privilege to explore the Great Hall, which had even more paintings than the dining hall in Lincoln College, and the Cathedral, which was bigger than Lincoln College’s but it looked the same. The most interesting thing I found was the stained glass windows with hidden pictures of characters from “Alice in Wonderland.” Andy told us that the main character, Alice, was actually named after the dean of the school’s daughter. Before we left, we were allowed to sing in the Cathedral, so we sang “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” and “The Alma Mater”. I got lunch at a sushi place with some other students and then we got back on the coach to go to Salisbury.

We had a presentation on the bus today about Women in Anglican Church Music. The presentation was done by Tori, Dustin, and Jacob. Tori was the first one to present. She began by introducing everyone to the history of women in Anglican Church music by bringing up each musical period and explaining the role of women in each one. For example, before the Enlightenment, men and boys represented every musical part in choirs and it wasn’t until the Enlightenment when women began to displace men singing soprano. By the 20th century, men were taken away to fight in the world wars, so women had more opportunities to become choristers. To this day, very few cathedrals have added girl choristers.

Next, Jacob discussed the trends of female choristers in recent years. Salisbury Cathedral (the cathedral we visited today), was supposedly the first cathedral to include women in its ranks and it even launched its own all-female choir. He also brought up a woman named Sarah MacDonald, the director of music at Selwyn College, and lay clerks, musicians paid by cathedrals to sing lower parts.

Dustin was the last to talk and he discussed the history of Salisbury Cathedral. He mostly mentioned a lot of dates, such as the day the stones of the foundation were laid, the day the body of the cathedral was finished, and the year girls were admitted into their choir. In addition to that, he told us about Sir Christopher Wren, a famous architect in England. He was important to the cathedral because he was involved in refurbishing and repairing it following the 17th century.

After an hour and a half drive, we made it to Salisbury Cathedral, our performance location for the day. Before rehearsal, two guides offered to give us a tour of the cathedral. We were shown plenty of interesting artifacts, architecture, and tombs in the cathedral. The highlight of the tour was the Salisbury Magna Carta, one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta. The document was preserved in a small room with plenty of space and we were allowed to take pictures of it. Our tour guide explained how the Magna Carta stressed that everyone, including the king, was not above the law and was required to be respectful and fair to everyone else. It also stressed the rights of the church and due process in law. Other highlights of the tour included the oldest living clock and a beautiful fountain with inscriptions written across it.

We had an hour to rehearse and then the Evensong started. It was honestly a lot like the Evensong from two nights ago. It started with an organ playing, the congregation stood when the choir entered, the choir sang a few hymns, the clergy read from the Bible between hymns, and then the choir exited. The only difference was we were singing with the choir this time. The choir we sang with consisted of older men and young, school-aged girls. I thought they sang great alongside us, but their robes were definitely better than ours. While we wore plain and simple black and white robes, they were decked out in blue, white, and turquoise robes. They were really pretty and I was a little jealous.

At this service, we sang “Magnificat”, “Nunc Dimittus in C”, and “Bethlehem Down.” Personally, I didn’t like how we sang the first two. While I don’t think our performance was terrible, we weren’t really prepared for the changes in tempo, so we had some trouble on downbeats and note durations. I was especially having difficulty since I was already used to singing the pieces at a slower speed. Not to mention it was difficult to watch the conductor and look at my music at the same time, since they made me place it face down in front of me. If this is how it is going to be for the next few Evensongs, I hope I will have learned the music well enough to not read it.

As for “Bethlehem Down”, I thought it was performed much better than the other two songs. However, it was a much easier song to sing since it was basically the same notes four times in a row. It also wasn’t completely perfect since I noticed some people (including myself) had trouble with one of the transitions. Other than that, I thought it was done well.

We got some dinner at a place called Bill’s. I got a chicken Caesar salad, mushroom soup (which I ate despite not liking mushrooms), and frozen custard.


Today was our second day in Salisbury. It was really damp and wet outside so I had to wear my boots. After breakfast, we drove down to see the Stonehenge, a 4,500 year old structure of rocks and stones placed in a circle. It was a really pretty prehistoric monument and I made sure to get a picture of it before we left. There were other parts of the area to explore too, but unfortunately, most of them were closed off. So my group and I ended up going back to the gift shop and café and waited for everyone else to meet us.

After two hours of waiting, we got back on the bus and headed back to Salisbury to eat lunch. Then at 2:50, we met up at the town square to go to Salisbury Methodist Church. This church was actually rather small and it looked more like a preschool than a place of worship. Nonetheless, I liked this church a bit more than the others because it was brighter and more welcoming. While we were there, I noticed a bright, beautiful picture on the wall and I learned from a pamphlet that it was called “The Creation Embroidery.” The pamphlet said it signified the completion of a rebuilding scheme to redesign the interior of the Grade 2 Listed church and the renewal of other premises. The embroidery was made out of silk and man-made fabric backing and it was mounted in seven aluminum frames. The pamphlet also mentioned how some parts of the embroidery were symbols. For example, the central glow of the setting/rising of the sun indicate death and resurrection.

We didn’t have anything else planned for today so we went back to the hotel early and got dinner there. I ate risotto while everyone else ate lasagna. I can honestly say I liked the risotto from the first night better. We also had some strawberry ice cream afterwards.

Before we went to bed, we had a presentation about English Church Music by Jordan, Andrew, and Jake. Unlike the last three presentations where each person said a specific portion of the group research and stopped, the group members for this presentation talked multiple times and switched off frequently. The majority of the presentation was on composers, but Jordan started off explaining the music’s history and significance. For instance, in Anglicanism, music is a part of what the congregation offers to God in the liturgy and during the Tudor period, it was important for secular and sacred life.

One of the composers mentioned was Thomas Tallis. He was known as one of the most important composers of sacred music before William Byrd. He was also an organist, a singer, and a proud member of the Chapel Royal. With his contributions, he was able to make music more available to the common folk. Not to mention he made it more affordable, especially with the printing of music books.

Another important composer to English Church Music was Peter Warlock. He was significant because he was known for arranging and transcribing other composers’ pieces, such as Henry Purcell and John Dowland. He also wrote several books on these composers. One of his books was called “The English Ayre” and it was about the composer Gesualdo. The group ended their presentation by reminding us that we were meeting the composer of one of our pieces in a few days and that we should take notes during his lecture and include it in our blog.


This morning we attended a Eucharist church service at Wells Cathedral. Besides taking place in a larger building, the service was largely the same as any service we’ve attended in America. Except this service had what is known as a Eucharist, which is the UK’s version of a Thanksgiving. This is when patrons of the church are invited one-by-one to dip the body of Christ (bread) into a cup filled with the blood of Christ (wine) and eat it. I didn’t participate though, since I choose not to drink alcohol.

Besides the Eucharist, the service was just like any normal church service. It started off with a call to worship, the president welcomed everyone and read from the Bible, hymns were sung, and benediction was given at the end. There was also a choir of young girls singing up front and I have to say, they sounded beautiful! Their voices were very pure and made them sound older than they actually are. We were invited to sing along with them sometimes, but it was difficult since the program did not provide the notes and rhythms for any of the hymns. Luckily, the lyrics were printed and I managed to follow along well.

After the service, we were invited to have tea and biscuits in the reception area. We also had the opportunity to look at a famous clock in the church that apparently dispenses two jousting knights every hour. There was also a cat lying around the church for some reason. We found out his name was Hangar and we were allowed to pet him before we left.

Our next stop of the day was the city of Bath where we visited the former Benedictine monastery Bath Abbney. This place came into existence specifically because of Jesus Christ and its community is committed to helping the poor and worshipping God. The highlight of the church was definitely its glass windows. They were probably the largest glass windows I’ve seen so far on this trip. One of the windows depicts the story of Jesus Christ in 56 scenes. I also really liked the font used for baptism they had at the far end of the building. The guide said babies were baptized in it and the water they are dipped in is a symbol of Christ washing away wrong-doings.

45 minutes later, we walked next door to the Roman Baths. This was the site where Romans bathed in a hot, steaming body of water. We were given some sort of audio guidebook and we explored the exhibit. Along the way, I learned plenty about Roman culture and religion. One thing I thought was interesting was the concept of curses. According to mythology, when someone had one or more of their possessions stolen or lost, they would write down a curse and send it to a goddess to punish whoever wronged them. The best part of the museum was definitely seeing the Bath itself. Even in the cold weather, it was still steaming like it did centuries ago. I almost wished I could swim in it. At the end of the tour, we were allowed to take a cup of the spring water and drink it. Unfortunately, I don’t like drinking warm water so I didn’t enjoy it much. I am looking forward to tomorrow. It’s going to be a special day.


Federal law required coach drivers to take a day off after driving so many hours, so we got a different coach driver for the day. Today was also Dr. Ryder’s birthday and we all gave him a card we all signed and sang “Happy Birthday” to him on the bus.

After a two minute drive, we got dropped off at the Bristol shopping center and then we walked to the oldest Methodist building in the world, John Wesley’s Chapel, aka “The New Room.” The reason the place was called “The New Room” is that John Wesley, who had been preaching outdoors for a while, said he needed a “new room” to preach in and also to allow Christians to better themselves and meet with one another. Additionally, it was a place that provided a food bank to help those who lacked anything to eat and organized visits to prisons. When we got done looking around the “New Room”, we went to Charles Wesley’s house and got some pictures there. My favorite rooms in the house were the bedroom and the music room. Both of those rooms were very pretty and I even found sheet music for one of Wesley’s hymns, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

We took a 2-hour break to eat and then we met back at Bristol Cathedral to have a workshop with David Bednall, the composer of one of our choir pieces, “I Saw a Stable.” He told us he didn’t have a lecture planned so he spent about a half hour talking about his studies and British church music history. He mentioned a few composers whose names I didn’t recognize and how they were influenced. But what I was most curious about was how he became inspired to write “I Saw a Stable.” So I asked him and he told me he got the idea when he was in a pub and wanted to come up with a Christmas song. The problem was, he had trouble narrowing Christmas down to a few words. So he read many Christmas themed stories and poetries and took inspiration to write the composition’s lyrics.

We had another Evensong tonight, so we spent an hour rehearsing before it started. This time, we would be in our seats before the service began, so there was no need to practice entering and exiting. The choir we were performing with was smaller than last time. It consisted of what looked like middle school aged children (about half were girls and the other half were boys). They wore these really nice red and white robes. They weren’t as nice as the robes from the last Evensong choir, but I was still a bit envious of them.

The procedure this time was largely the same as last Evensong’s and the one before that. The choir came in and sang a call to worship, there were readings between each song, and there was collective prayer. However, the audience space was considerably smaller this time and the pews looked like they could only fit a few rows of people. But the good news was we got to sit near the front so I could hold my music in front of me instead of looking at it on a table. It was also nice because I was able to see the conductor while reading my music.

The three songs we sang tonight were “Magnificat”, “Nunc Dimittus”, and “I Saw a Stable.” I thought we sang the Magnificat a lot better this time around because we sang it at a much more reasonable tempo. I also thought the dynamics were done well, and they sounded even better with the cathedral’s acoustics. “Nunc Dimittus” was also done better, but it could still use some revisions. For starters, our entrances needed to be stronger and more confident. There were also a few notes that I couldn’t get right and it would have been nice to go over them a few more times. “I Saw a Stable” was fine too, but I felt the tempo was a bit too slow. At least I didn’t need music for it, and at least the composer himself was there to hear it.

Tomorrow is going to be a REALLY special day; more special than today even. I’m really looking forward to it. Attachment.png


Today was my 22nd birthday. I was sad I wouldn’t get to see my family, but at least I had friends with me. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” on the bus before we left and they all signed a card for me. Andy even got me a tiny birthday cake for me to eat at dinner which was really nice of him. \240I was happy I still got a cake even though I wasn’t home.

We left Bristol at around 8 am and headed for Cambridge to visit King’s College. We didn’t have time to get lunch so we were given a packed lunch to eat on the way. When we got to Cambridge, we dropped our robes off at our performance spot, Selwyn College. Then we walked over to King’s College to explore the cathedral. It had pretty much everything all of the other cathedrals had: glass windows, praying rooms, memorials, and space for Evensong. However, in addition to all of that, there was a mini-museum in the cathedral halls. One thing I found interesting was the college’s royal emblems. These emblems included a greyhound, a red dragon, a fleur de lys, a red rose, leopard, a red and white rose, and a portcullis. I thought these were very odd and specific choices for royal emblems until I read about it. Apparently, red dragons represent the people of Britain that will be over run by the white dragon (the Saxons). Greyhounds were said to be the beasts of the Beauforts and red and white roses became symbols during the time of Henry VII’s marriage to Elizabeth. The other emblems have a great level of significance as well.

We had an hour break before we went back to Selwyn college for another Evensong rehearsal. This time we had to take off the white parts of our robes because we weren’t supposed to wear them during rehearsal. Speaking of robes, the accompanying choir actually had similar robes to us this time so I didn’t feel inadequate around them. In addition, we got to separate ourselves and sit between some of the college’s choir members. I thought this was a good idea since it meant we could actually bond with them. We had rehearsal for a bit and then we had time to put on the other halves of our robes.

When it was time for the Evensong, I got the biggest surprise of my life. Dr. Ryder called me to the door and standing outside were my dad and stepmom! Apparently, they had been staying in London for a few days and wanted to surprise me on my birthday. They said they were going to stay for the service and dinner afterwards. I was overjoyed that they were here and my birthday had just gotten better.

The Evensong went just like all of the other Evensongs except we were standing with the accompanying choir rather than across from them. There were still readings from the old and new testaments in between “Magnificat” and “Nunc Dimittus” and we said (and sang) the same basic prayers from every other Evensong and church service. There was still a blessing and a sermon, but this one was a bit different. The man giving the sermon was actually very humorous and he managed to get a few laughs out of the patrons, including me. I have no idea if the jokes he told were approved or not, but they at least made this Evensong more unique from the others.

Our singing was a little weaker this time around. The “Magnificat” still sounded good, but “Nunc Dimittus” needed serious work. This time, we had to speed up at one of the phrases and I was not prepared for that at all. We also fixed some of the notes I’ve been struggling with, but that new tempo messed up even more notes for me. We sang “Bethlehem Down” as well, but it didn’t go as well as the first time we sang it. For some reason, our conductor wanted us to hold the last pitch of every phrase down before we got to the next one. Because I wasn’t used to this new rule, I kept cutting off too early. The tempo slowed down on the last verse too, so that was a bit distracting.

We ate dinner in the dining hall after the Evensong concluded. We ate some sort of shrimp salad, some cooked beef with mashed potatoes and carrots, and some chocolate tart thing for dessert. I didn’t eat much of the dessert since I wanted to eat my cake later. When dinner was over, the whole dining room sang “Happy Birthday” to me. This birthday turned out to be even better than I expected. I got my own birthday cake, a nice birthday card, and to top it off, I got to see my dad. I was still disappointed I couldn’t see my mom too, but I’ll get to see her on her birthday next week.


We got on the bus very early this morning. We had a rehearsal scheduled from 8-9 and we had to leave the hotel by 7. Unfortunately, we hit a lot of traffic on the way down to Ely, so we didn’t get to see the chorister boys rehearse like we planned. I took advantage of the situation to get some more sleep.

We arrived at Ely Cathedral at about 9. When we went inside, our conductor from the night before was waiting for us. She showed us where we would be singing our concert today, a room in the back of the cathedral called Lady Chapel. We sang a few notes in there and the acoustics sounded incredible! We then were invited to explore the rest of the cathedral as well as the city of Ely until noon when our rehearsal started.

After rehearsal, we prepared for our recital. We put on our robes that were stored in the back room, got in a line, and when it was time, we walked into the chapel. We had more of an audience this time around than we did last time, but it was still a relatively small turnout. I felt like more chairs could have been set up in the room, especially in the back, but given how many people actually showed up, I guess it didn’t matter. The space between us and the audience was still a little too small for me, but again, it was better than our last concert.

We sang a total of 12 pieces in our concert. Lucky for me, we didn’t have to sing the “Magnificat” or “Nunc Dimittus” so I was perfectly comfortable not holding a folder. Surprisingly though, I was the only one who wasn’t holding any music. There were some students who had some songs memorized and didn’t need to read the music, but everybody except me read from at least one copy of sheet music throughout the recital. I found this strange because last night at the Evensong, I was the only one reading off of “Bethlehem Down” which was a song we just recently learned, unlike the songs we sang today which we’ve spent a whole semester on. Admittedly, there were some lyrics in some of our pieces that I had trouble remembering, but I still wanted to attempt to go off-book.

I noticed quite a lot when we were singing this concert. First of all, “Light” sounded absolutely beautiful in Lady Chapel. Every phrase we sang from it gave a powerful echo, even when we sang softly. I think it was the perfect song for that kind of space. “The 23rd Psalm” was also some very well and Tori did a great job of conducting us. Our strength on that one was definitely our dynamics. However, on “Loch Lomond”, I noticed we didn’t put much emphasis on our consonants as we did in rehearsal. During rehearsal, I really heard the “d” in “dai”, but during the recital I heard less of it. We aren’t going to be singing “Loch Lomond” anymore on this trip, but maybe it could be something we can work on during the spring semester.

We got back on the bus at 2 pm and started driving to our last hotel in London, where we would be staying until we went home. We got ourselves settled at our hotel and then we went to a restaurant called Garfunkel’s for dinner. They fed us tomato soup, fish and chips, and cheesecake.


Today we drove down to see Windsor Castle, home of the famous State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel. Before we got to the castle, we got the opportunity to watch the changing of the royal guards, which I got a video of.

We split up into groups and were given four hours to have a look around the castle and get lunch. Our group went to St. George’s chapel first. There, we got to see the casket where Queen Mary lies as well as candles that we could light ourselves. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of anything. Next, we walked down to the State Apartments. We couldn’t take pictures there either, which was a shame since there were so many beautiful sites and rooms that I wanted to remember, such as the Waterloo Chamber, the Throne Room (which honestly looked more like a dining room with a throne), the King’s Bedchamber, and my favorite of them all, St. George’s Hall. Not only did this room have suits of armor laid out everywhere, but there were also coats of arms plastered all over the walls, including the ceiling. Lastly, we visited the Queen’s Dollhouse Room, which I was the most disappointed to not get any pictures of. Mostly because it was a literal dollhouse version of the queen’s palace, with every detail included. I thought this was really beautiful and I was sad I wouldn’t get to save it among my memories. Still, pictures or not, the Windsor Castle was a lovely experience, even if it didn’t have as much as the castle in Edinburgh.

We got some lunch and looked through a few stores in Windsor (including the book store, the candy shop, and the electronics store) and then we took off for Royal Holloway College for our final Evensong performance. When we arrived, we were invited into a room to put our robes in and then we had our final group presentation by Austin, BJ, and Callie. The presentation was called “The Three Organs.” Callie introduced the topic by explaining what a pipe organ was and what it was made of, including its four main parts. The she talked about the progression organs have made by giving examples of organs from different time periods, including the Hydraulis (invented by Ktesibios in the 3rd Century BC), the Bellows Organ (2nd Century AD) and the Electronic Organ (invented by Laurens Hammond in 1935). Austin then talked about the Salisbury organ and explained how it worked. The Salisbury organ was built in 1877 by Henry Willis and while it had some mechanical alterations, its sound quality was similar to the way it sounded in the nineteenth century. Austin showed us a picture of the organ and explained how you use both the four keyboards and the pedals at the same time, so you have to use both your hands and feet to play it.

Next, BJ took the floor to inform us about the Greyfriar’s Kirk Organ. This organ was also known as the Peter Collins Organ and it was completed in 1990, replacing the chapel’s old organ, the Hamilton Organ. This organ is said to have 3,400 pipes and three manuals and it also has Latin inscriptions written over it. One inscription is from Psalm 150 and it reads “Let everything that hath breathe praise the Lord.”

Finally, Callie spoke of the two organs used at Selwyn College: the West Organ and the East Organ. The West Organ is the college’s main organ and it was installed in 2005 by Orgeus Létournea Lte. This organ has 30 stops, over 3 manuals, and pedals. The East Organ was built by Kenneth Tickell and installed in 2010. It has significantly less stops and a smaller chamber than the West Organ. Both of these organs are played by students from the college. The group challenged us to take a picture of the organ at Royal Holloway College and post it in our blog, so I did.

After the last group presented, two nice men named Jack and Will gave us a small tour of the college. They showed us places like a statue of one of the queens, the library, the Boiler room which provides performance space for choirs, and the student unions. I was most impressed with the library though because it was more than just a library. In addition to books and a quiet study area, there was also a cafe and an area for eating. I thought this was much nicer than the library we have back at RMC so I made sure to get a picture of it.

We got ready for Evensong at around 4:45. We wore our robes all through rehearsal, and when it was time, we lined up outside the chapel and walked to our seats. I have to say, this was probably my favorite location for Evensong. The reason I think this is that this spot seemed brighter and more welcoming. However, there was one thing that annoyed me. The music stands were too tall so every time we sat down, we couldn’t see anything. At least we didn’t have to constantly look down to see our music.

Once again, we sat between members of the college so we could get to know them better. Their robes were almost like our robes except they only wore the black part and not the white. I wasn’t really jealous of that. Our choir director was fairly nice as well.

We sang the same three songs we sang for pretty much every Evensong we’ve participated in. This time, I attempted to sing them all offbook. I thought I could do it during rehearsal, but unfortunately, I still had a hard time remembering some words. Luckily though, the programs had lyrics I could glance at if I needed them. “Magnificat” was fine as always and “Nunc Dimittus” was getting better too. However, there was one change the director told us to make to “Bethlehem Down” that bothered me. Instead of taking a breath between each of the verse’s four phrases, we had to sing half of each verse without taking a breath! \240I thought this was a bad idea so I decided to address this issue, but he told us to just stagger breathe our way through it. I still didn’t like it though, and quite honestly, it made “Bethlehem Down” much harder for me to sing. I could barely catch my breath after singing each verse.

After our last Evensong, we were invited into the college dining room to eat our evening meal. Andy gave us some money to pay for it so I ordered chips, steamed rice, steamed broccoli, a banana, a rainbow cookie, and a bottled water.


Today was our official last day of the tour. We got on the coach at about quarter past 8 and drove down to Westminster Abbey where we were given a tour of the place. The Westminster Abbey was the location of many kings and queens’ coronations (crownings) and also a location of burials and memorials. Our tour guide revealed there were over 3,000 people buried in the Abbey, although most of them were ashes rather than bodies. Some memorials they had were for Winston Churchill, Sir Isaac Newton, and even Franklin D. Roosevelt (who was the only US president the Abbey had a memorial for). Also included in our tour were the tombs of Henry VIII’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. When Mary died, Elizabeth had asked to be buried next to her sister when she died. However, she was buried on top of her instead. We saw Charles and John Wesley’s memorials too. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures of anything, but I got a picture of the building outside.

We walked over to the Methodist Central Hall next. We had a considerably shorter tour than our last, but there was still plenty to see. The building had four floors and we went to every one of them. We were shown the area called the Great Hall where community worship services took place. We also got to go up on the balcony and I got pictures of the London Eye and Big Ben. While we were there, we sang the “Alma Mater” for our tour guide in the Great Hall.

We ate lunch and then we went to the Wesley Chapel (originally called New Chapel before Wesley’s death) and John Wesley’s house for one final tour. We split up into two groups and ours went into the house first. We were allowed access to three floors of the house and each had two rooms. The basement rooms were both dark and thus, we couldn’t take pictures. Our guide gave us some background on all of the rooms. The kitchen, for example, did not have running water when John was still alive. We got to see John’s prayer room as well, which was actually an empty room with a prayer book on the desk. The bedrooms were really pretty too, and I especially liked the beds, even if they were small. When we finished in the house, our guide invited us back into the chapel to take some pictures. Then we took pictures of John’s grave and his first organ (which still works!).

Before our final meal in the UK, we walked over to the London Museum. There, we got to view and take photos of the Aldersgate Flame. This was a bronze, flame-shaped sculpture that stood near the location of John Wesley’s conversion, which took place on May 24th, 1738. On the memorial was text written from Wesley’s journal, describing his conversion experience. We took one final picture together in front of the memorial.

Dinner tonight was at a place called the Silver Cross. We started off with tomato and basil soup with bread. Then for our main course, we were given sausages and mashed potatoes and gravy. But I don’t eat sausages so instead I got fish and chips with peas. Our dessert was vanilla ice cream with chocolate drizzle and a cookie.

This has been an incredible experience. I really enjoyed my time here and I hope one day I can come back and explore this amazing country even more. I’ve learned an awful lot and I’ve had some fun to boot. I can’t wait to go out of the country again, but for now, I’m ready to go home.