Devon: Music workshop to explore music of Syon Abbey

The Syon Breviary has 100 pages of plainsong and commemorates the 600th anniversary of the foundation of Syon Abbey by King Henry V

The Syon Breviary has 100 pages of plainsong and commemorates the 600th anniversary of the foundation of Syon Abbey by King Henry V

Music once heard only in the chapel of Syon Abbey, South Brent in Devon, will be heard once again during a choral workshop at St Mary's Church, Dartington on Saturday, 17th March, starting at 2.30 pm: an event which is open to all.

The nuns' prayers which formed their daily office were translated into English from the original Latin about fifty years ago. The accompanying plainchant music was adapted from the original which has been in use by the Bridgettine Sisters of Syon Abbey for more than 600 years.

It was St Bridget of Sweden herself who, when founding her Order in the late 14th century, instructed that the nuns should recite the Holy Hours of each day in honour of Mary, the mother of Christ.

Syon Abbey itself was founded in 1415 near London by King Henry V, the hero of Agincourt, who was immortalised by Shakespeare. The Sisters of Syon have kept up the prayers of the 'Daily Office of Our Lady' (The Syon Breviary) to this day. They are the only English religious community to have survived the Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII.

The 'Cantus Sororum' ('Songs of the Sisters') have not been heard outside the walls of their private chapel for more than six centuries and never before in English. The Lady Abbess of Syon had their beautiful, gilded 'Syon Breviary' published in English in 2015 for their 600th anniversary.

The choral workshop will be led by Michael Graham, director of Chapel Music at Exeter University together with members of the university's chapel choir. The event starts at 2.30 pm in the nearby church hall and includes an illustrated talk about Syon Abbey from the time it moved to Devon.

Tea and refreshments will be served followed by a candle-lit recital of parts of Vespers from the Sister's breviary in St Mary's Church.

This unique event is organised by St Bridget's Friends: a new group with a Facebook page which exists to promote daily prayer and Christian unity. Donations will be welcomed to help cover the costs of the event.

For more information contact Adrian Wardle, editor, The Syon Breviary on 01364 73913 or e-mail: or Joy Hanson, co-founder and secretary, St Bridget's Friends: e-mail


Tags: Syon Abbey, St Bridget , Syon Breviary

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