|167: St Peter's, Winchester, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: The Ferret.
The church: St Peter's, Winchester, England.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: Restrained Victorian Gothic style. The church has a superb carved stone reredos (the screen behind the main altar).
The neighbourhood: Centrally located, on the edge of the main shopping area.
The cast: I've no idea. It wasn't announced, or mentioned on the sheets we were given, or on the board outside the church. I didn't pursue it any further.
What was the name of the service?
Compline (the service of Night Prayer). This was an ecumenical event.
How full was the building?
Somewhat over half full. This is quite a large church, so about 250 people.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes we were welcomed, given an order of service and a note on the music to be performed.
Was your pew comfortable?
The individual seats were fine.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Fairly quiet, though quite a lot of chatting was going on.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"The Lord Almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The printed order of service.
What musical instruments were played?
None. The service was for unaccompanied human voice only.
Did anything distract you?
A thunderstorm was blazing away outside, but the church must be well insulated, as it was barely audible.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Formal. I was a little concerned that the service might have resembled a concert rather than a service of night prayer, but my reservations turned out to be unfounded.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music for the Nunc Dimittis was marvellous, but the whole service was of a piece, and being devoid of much ceremony was well chosen for an ecumenical event.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Getting soaked as we left the church!
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Impossible! Although there was a retiring collection and we were wished good night, the whole west end of the church was a giant scrum of people, waiting for a break in the monsoon-like rain. We eventually ran for it.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There wasn't any.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8? It's impossible to judge on a special event like this. I would have to go back to one of their own services. However, the fact that they obviously wanted to put on a special service like this sounds encouraging.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
De Torrentes' superb setting of the Nunc Dimittis.