Compline Choir


St. Mark's Cathedral (map) Capitol Hill
Sun at 9:30 pm All Ages


What is it about choral music that makes me feel like a ball of sound-light is breaking out of my chest, piercing my loneliness with the pure power of its melodic force? Why does a soprano's voice seem to clean the air of impurities? How do I explain the visceral thrill I experience when I hear a tenor's high F note ripple through a soprano's steel-beam E as the whole chorus joins for the first time in the Voices of Ascension's version of Josquin des Prez's "Ave Maria"? The overflowing tenor, the power of all four vocal ranges straining to sing the Latin word for "solemn" in the most joyous, melodic way possible, seems to acknowledge the intensity of the struggle to enjoy life despite the fact that every ounce of joy obscures a pound of pain. I'm not religious, I don't read Latin, I didn't grow up with a love of group singing, but, for some reason, as an adult, whenever I hear classical choral music, my senses feel sharpened and soothed at the same time. When I confessed my newfound love of choral music to one of my friends, she told me about the Compline Service at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, a performance she occasionally attends, which happens every Sunday evening. We went together one Sunday—admittedly a little stoned—and lay out on a blanket near the altar (a surprising but common practice among regulars) and looked up at the spare concrete walls. My friend and I got there around 9 p.m., and at precisely 9:30 p.m. the all-male chorus shuffled into the room quietly, their robes ruffling behind them, and opened their books and began to sing. In that moment I discovered the singular pleasure of imagining the sound waves of interwoven human voices soaring up the timber pillars that support the church's vaulted ceilings and bouncing around the reredos and the rose window as all that glass blushed pink, then orange, and then dark blue as the sun sank behind the Olympics. It was the first time I'd ever accessed the spiritual by way of some religious practice. Something about the combination of the architecture, the fellowship, and the music gave me a little peek into the ineffable. RICH SMITH

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St. Mark's Cathedral

1245 10th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102

Event Times
  • Sun at 9:30 pm
  • Classical/Opera
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