Just returned from a very enjoyable weekend in York, home of the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe, York Minster (right; click image for larger version, click here for full-size, 900 KB version).
My uncle (with whom we were staying) sings in the Minster choir, and I attended evensong on the Saturday and the main Eucharist yesterday morning.
It may sound a little unfortunate putting it like this, but the best part of the Eucharist service at York Minster is always the end of it. The service ends with the blessing; then we sing the final hymn; as the hymn ends, the organ continues ex tempore as the choir begins to process out. And then, as the choir reaches the main part of the nave, the organ falls silent; and then this happens (MP3, 460 KB).
This is the Revd G.S. Talbot’s setting of Psalm 150, and the linked version is a 30-second excerpt from the version on the St Paul’s Cathedral complete psalms collection (sadly, linking the whole thing would be pushing my luck, copyright-wise). The choir continues to sing the psalm as it processes round into the north aisle and disappears east beyond the screen, with the music fading gradually into the distance. The service ends in the same way every week, it’s unique to York Minster, and it’s one of the most powerful musical (and spiritual) experiences you’ll ever have.
It’s also precisely how Psalm 150 should be used in the church’s worship. As I’ve said before, Psalm 150 is not about whipping ourselves up into a fervour; it is about releasing the joy and thankfulness that builds up in our hearts as we recall God’s goodness towards us. That is why Psalm 150 comes at the very end the psalter, and that is why it is the perfect conclusion to the Eucharist.