The King's Men

On Tuesday evening of this week St. Andrew's, Lambertville, was host to a concert by a subset of the renowned King's College Choir. Once known as the Collegium Regale, the group now call themselves the King's Men. Having them come to our modest little church, which seats fewer than 200, was as surprising and delicious as a visitation of angels.

Choral scholars at the college, undergraduates, they sing a capella. They rehearse for three hours every day. Their ensemble is exquisite, crisp, precise. St. Andrews was built in the late nineteenth century, before electronic amplification, and designed on purpose to have excellent acoustics. It's a wonderful place to sing, even for those of us who don't sing all that well.

"From Byrd to the Beatles," their program was called, and it ranged from fifteenth century sacred music to charming arrangements of pop hits. Between numbers they clowned a little, being fun-loving young fellows. An organist came with them but did not accompany them. He played a couple of numbers by himself, brilliantly. They were all brilliant. I wish I could tell you their names. I wish I had counted them. There must have been about fifteen. There were no printed programs, and I was too stupefied by the beauty of the experience to take any notes.

Still I wanted to tell you about it in my incoherent way. They were so beautiful! They were so young! And the group was so ephemeral. Although the choir was founded during the reign of Henry VI, the young men who sing in it will graduate and be off doing other things in a very short time. Others will take their places. All the while I was listening to them I was thinking, this will never happen again in quite this way. There's no way to capture it, no way to hang onto it.

Nevertheless I offer you this YouTube recording, made in another church a couple of years ago, of some of them singing Tutti Venite Armati, which they also sang in the program at Saint Andrews. A pale shadow.

Kate Gallison