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9: St Mary & All Saints, Whalley, Lancashire
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St Mary and All Saints, Whalley
Mystery Worshipper: Bagpuss.
The church: St Mary & All Saints, Whalley, near Blackburn, Lancashire, UK.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Idyllic country parish church, with some stunning internal features.
The neighbourhood: The church is next door to Whalley Abbey, which was closed by Henry VIII. The abbey's beautiful, carved choir stalls ended up in the church, where they remain to this day.
The cast: Rev. Chris Sterry.
What was the name of the service?
Choral Evensong.

How full was the building?
About one-third full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was welcomed with a smile and a Prayer Book. I was also impressed when I saw some young visitors being greeted with bags of toys.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes and no. The pew with a well-padded seat was comfy, but you needed to be a Yoga expert to use the kneelers.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet and reverential, with well-chosen organ voluntaries playing in the background.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
It was actually a choral introit, 'Hide Not Thou Thy Face', sung beautifully by the Guild Singers.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
'Hymns Ancient and Modern', and 'The Shorter Prayer Book' (an abbreviated form of the Book of Common Prayer).

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
Halfway through the sermon, someone stuck their head around the church door and gestured frantically to the church warden. Even more distracting was the fact that I never found out what it was all about.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The service was specially commssioned for a retreat weekend for the Prayer Book Society – so it was traditional.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7. He delivered a difficult subject well.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Lancelot Andrewes and his importance as a founding father of Anglicanism.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The wonderful singing and the way that all the music pieces were linked to the overall theme of the service.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The embarrassment of having to leave the Mystery Worship calling card in a church where everyone seemed to know each other!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't have the chance to look lost as I was dragged off for a cup of tea.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It was served in the stunning surroundings of the Great Hall of the Abbey in a tasteful cup and sauncer. A first-class brew.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. The music and singing reinforced the importance of the intrinsic part they play in worship, which is often sadly neglected.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The choral pieces and organ accompaniment.
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