Sunday, 24 November 2013

English Perpendicular and a large icecream

There is only so much religious intensity you can take.
Decided to stick with what I knew so sought out Evensong at the Anglican Cathedral on Nablus Street. This is back in East Jerusalem, near the hotel where I stayed the first two nights.

A relief somehow to step into the courtyard - it is stepping back to the familiar. There are electric gates at the entrance - an unseen guard buzzes me in. This seems so English - the familiar Perpendicular of Victorian restoration.

It is very Church of England, a very sparsely attended service. The vicar is visiting from Nottingham for six months. He welcomes me and asks if I am a priest (the first time anyone has ever asked me that). I ask if it is sung evensong. He said let's see how we get on. We'll all sit in the choir.
Three more people arrive and we start. We sing a hymn tremulously: I have never sung it before. It is right in the back of the Hymn Book - perhaps the very last hymn - number 500 just after the 'National' section.
He asks who might read the lesson and it seems churlish not to offer. The Old Testament reading is Samuel 1, verses 1 to 20. That is really very long. Is that all right? Well, yes of course.
The people want a king. It is the festival of Christ the King - the first Sunday in Advent.
It is a very long time since I have read a lesson, perhaps since childhood and I cannot recall what you are supposed to say at the end. I say Here endeth the lesson, and remember Rev Beckerlegge at Crowan. This is no doubt what he taught us.
 Let's keep silent for a while, shall we? says the vicar afterwards. This is the word of The Lord. Thanks be to God is now what is commonly said: an august voice from the home counties opposite reads the New Testament lesson.
We stand for the creed but do not turn to face the altar as we did at Crowan. I remember singing in the choir at evensong, wearing black robes and surplices we kept in the vestry. I think we even wore square flat caps -  strange to remember now.
Interesting reflections on power and the use of power.
The second hymn, Judge in Splendour, is far more successful,.
Prayers for pilgrims that they may return enriched and enrich the lives of those around them.
Awkward farewells.
On the way home stop for a very large icecream - slightly larger than I intended - Passion fruit, American waffle and rum raisin.

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy