Bath Abbey

Dunleer Parish Church, built c 1830

Most of my Christmas Day Services have been at the C of I church in Dunleer. It was Low Church, austere architecturally and with the old, simple liturgy. Even the plate was a wooden platter, the sort of thing  from which Oliver Twist might have had an exiguous helping of gruel. It was presented by my brother-in-law to mark the Christening of his eldest in the church. Continue reading Bath Abbey

St Yeghichè and St Cyprian

In a dictatorship when said dictator wants to impose his will he issues a Presidential Decree and at a stroke the dictator’s whim is law.   In the UK there are democratic elections and two chambers in parliament to debate and scrutinise legislation. That is unless something is too trivial to detain our politicians, such as declaring war or leaving the EU. In that case parliament is by-passed and Her Majesty signs an Order in Council in the comfort of a sitting room in Buckingham Palace.  Continue reading St Yeghichè and St Cyprian

St Thomas the Apostle

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Yesterday I went to The Royal Hospital, Chelsea. It was a Vets’ Service. Let’s get something clear. If you are an American you will assume it was a Service for Veterans; if not you will intuit that it was attended by uniformed members of The Royal Army Veterinary Corps.  –more–>

After they had filed into the Chapel, designed by Christopher Wren after our Civil War, a motley bunch of uniformed Cadets slouched in. My disapproval waned when I read on the Service sheet that they were from 104 Irish Guards Army Cadet Detachment in Hayes. They sat on the knife boards* facing each other. My observations may not surprise you. They had no knowledge of the liturgy, drummed into me by going to church at home and at school. They didn’t know the hymns but neither did I. When it came to the last one, For All The Saints, they didn’t even know that; I belted it out. At the Royal Hospital one sings the National Anthem. They didn’t stand to attention, although in uniform, and again didn’t know the words. I was little better as, unusually, we sang the second verse which I don’t know, so I goldfished them. However, I felt proud that they had chosen to become Cadets and especially of the Irish Guards. Hard to know how Irish they are but there was one carrot-haired boy who looked like he’d make a great wartime soldier.

The music yesterday is worth mentioning. It was the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle so the Introit was Quia Vibist Me, by Hans Leo Hassler. The words aren’t too long so I can squeeze them in.

Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Alleluia.

The Missa Brevis was by Zoltán Kodály, the Communion Motet, Glorious in Heaven, by Percy Whitlock and the organ voluntary, Marche Pontificale, by Charles-Marie Widor.

When I reflect on life and eternity I am without doubt a Doubting Thomas. When I go to the Royal Hospital I don’t lose those doubts but I do have a chance to recite a liturgy remembered from my childhood, to enjoy beautiful music and to reflect.

*The seats on the gangway in the Eton College Chapel are popularly known as the “knife-board.”

How Big is Your Diocese?

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The 12th century cathedral in Trondheim had an extensive diocese; by way of the Faroes and Iceland to Orkney and the Hebrides and round to the Isle of Man. Quite a reach, until I think about the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe whose patch covers all of Europe and the former Soviet Union countries. These days the bishop is based in Brussels although his secretariat is in London. Here is another big diocese. Continue reading How Big is Your Diocese?