One day, Psallentes plainchant will resound during Sunday Assembly’s congregations

Sunday Assembly on Psallentes site, Guardian article

The Guardian, 14 september 2013, Esther Addley:

It started, as a number of the world’s great religions have done, with a small group of friends and a persuasive idea: why should atheists miss out on all the good things churches have to offer? What would happen if they set up a “godless congregation” that met to celebrate life, with no hope of the hereafter?

Eight months after their first meeting in a deconsecrated church in north London, the founders of the Sunday Assembly have their answer: on Sunday they will announce the formation of satellite congregations in more than 20 cities across Britain and the world, the first wave of an expansion that they believe could see 40 atheist churches springing up by the year and as many as 1,000 worldwide within a decade.

From Glasgow, Leeds, Bristol and Dublin, to New York, San Diego and Vancouver, to Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, groups of non-believers will be getting together to form their own monthly Sunday Assemblies, with the movement’s founders – the standup comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans  – visiting the fledgling congregations in what they are calling, only partly in jest, a “global missionary tour”.

Though he always suspected he was not the only one to regret that his lack of faith excluded him from a church-style community, Jones admits to being a little bewildered by the speed and scale at which his idea has caught on. “When I had the idea for this, I always thought if it was something I would like to go to in London then it was something other people would like to go to in other places.

“The one thing that we didn’t take into account was the power of the internet, and I think even more than that, the fact that there is obviously a latent need for this kind of thing. People have always congregated around things that they believe in. I think people are going to look back at the fact that it didn’t happen as the oddity, not this part.”

Satellite assemblies will agree to the central charter of Jones and Evans’s original gathering – which still meets monthly in central London – and Jones expects them, initially at least, to stick to a similar format, in which a “host” leads several hundred congregants through songs, moments of contemplation and a sermon-like (but secular) talk.

“If we do it in London and there are 400 people who come, that’s brilliant, but if we find a way to help hundreds of people to set one up then we can have a bigger impact than we could ever dream of,” says Jones. Their vision, he says, is “a godless gathering in every town, city or village that wants one”.

Stuart Balkham is one of a small group of Brighton unbelievers who next weekend will hold their inaugural assembly – the theme is beginnings – in a disused church in Hove.

He and his partner went to the London gathering where, he says, “there was just something that clicked”. Part of the appeal was the style of non-worship: “It’s unashamedly copying a familiar Church of England format, so it’s part of the collective consciousness.”

Balkham says he has envied churches the sense of community they can offer, and thinks atheists can learn from the social good that many churches do. “It’s naive to deny that there’s a lot of good that comes out of organised religion, and I think helping in the community is another thing that Sunday Assemblies should be aspiring to unashamedly copy.” (End of quote)

Read the full article here (The Guardian).

17•08•2013 Bever [B] Rosario: Beghinae

17 Augustus 2013 Bever, Dorpskerk, 06h30 (sic). Meer info hier.

[NL] Heb je ooit al begijntjes gezien? Wij ook niet. Deze vrome vrouwen van vervlogen eeuwen zijn uitgestorven. Wil je ze horen zingen? Dat kan wel. De Beghinae van Psallentes♀ zingen uit manuscripten die ze vonden in de begijnhoven van onder meer Brugge, Antwerpen en Amsterdam. Begijntjes? Je ziet ze zo voor je.

[FR] Vous n’avez jamais rencontré de béguines￿? Nous non plus. Ces femmes pieuses appartenaient à une communauté religieuse fondée voici plusieurs siècles, aujourd’hui disparue. En revanche, vous pouvez les entendre chanter! Les Beghinae de l’ensemble Psallentes♀ s’inspirent de divers manuscrits, découverts entre autres dans les béguinages de Bruges, d’Anvers et d’Amsterdam, et font renaître la voix des béguines.

[ENG] Have you ever seen any beguines? We haven’t either. Those devout laywomen of centuries past are no more. But would you like to hear them sing? That is possible. The Beghinae of Psallentes♀ sing works from manuscripts found in the beguinages of Bruges, Antwerp and Amsterdam, among others. Beguines? They appear before your very eyes.


White monks

Photograph by Francesca Phllips
Photograph by Francesca Phllips

[ENG] On our wish list: visiting ‘White Monks – A Life in Shadows’ photography exhibition at Holy Trinity Chruch, Sloane Street, London. Photographs by Francesca Phillips. Born in London but currently living in Spain, Phillips visited three Spanish Trappists monasteries: “With the permission to photograph came several provisos that included, at first, showing no faces at all. Wandering around alone in public areas I was to be as inconspicuous and as sensitive as possible. If accompanied I could go to certain private quarters, but just for a few minutes, and there was to be no talking, as is the rule of the Order. The slightly clandestine nature of it was strangely liberating, seemed entirely natural to my inherent propensity for secrecy. At six o´clock in the morning, in the winter, in the darkness of a 12th Century church, thinking you are alone, only to slowly discover that you are surrounded by twenty, hooded, praying monks – it was a perfect moment of pure theatre.” (

Francesca Phllips also made an excellent documentary on El Silbo, the whistling language of La Gomera. You can watch it here.

Photograph by Francesca Phillips
Photograph by Francesca Phillips

Psallentes 2013-2016

De Vlaamse regering heeft vandaag beslist dat Chant Group Psallentes ook in de periode 2013-2016 structureel ondersteund wordt, met een bijna verdriedubbeling van de middelen. Wij zijn daar uiteraard heel erg blij mee! We zullen meer dan ooit ons best doen om ons publiek krachtige en intense ervaringen aan te bieden, altijd vertrekkende vanuit laatmiddeleeuwse bronnen. Het gregoriaans of de monodie in het algemeen, maar ook alle aanverwante polyfonieën, ze zullen ons – zangers, zangeressen én publiek – tot steeds hogere sferen leiden. (Hier een smiley.)

Psallentes is te zien op de Dag Oude Muziek, op zondag 1 juli 2012 om 10u te Alden Biesen, met de première van het project CLOISTERED. Wij hopen van harte u daar te ontmoeten.

With the support of the government of Flanders

04•04•12 Lauwe [B], Sint-Bavokerk, 20u: Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (Psallentes & Zefiro Torna)

Montserrat-gebergte Psallentes' Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, with Zefiro Torna

Het is avond. Een zachte zomeravond. Een kleine groep pelgrims rust uit, zittend tegen de kerkmuur van de Abdij van Montserrat. Zij komen van ver. Ze hebben een lange reis gemaakt om hier de beroemde zwarte Madonna te aanbidden. In de nabijheid van de Maria met het Kind verwachten deze bedevaarders verlichting, vergeving, zuivering, inspiratie, een nieuw begin.

Sommige pelgrims houden er ter plekke al gauw weer liederlijke gewoontes op na. Ze drinken, maken veel lawaai, ze dansen wild. Na de lange tocht moeten zij stoom afblazen. Maar niet deze rustige pelgrims tegen de kerkmuur. Zij genieten van elkaars samenzijn. Ook zij willen ‘liederlijk’ zijn, maar dan heel anders: om de avond door te brengen zingen ze samen liederen voor de Madonna. Ze kennen deze klassiekers door en door. Continue reading “04•04•12 Lauwe [B], Sint-Bavokerk, 20u: Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (Psallentes & Zefiro Torna)”

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