|268: St Matthew, Westminster, London|
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Mystery Worshipper: Bee.
The church: St Matthews, Great Peter Street, Westminster, London.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Traditional Victorian stone church. The exterior is mainly hidden by two modern developments flanking both sides of the church, so that only the entrance is visible (and that is partly hidden by a huge tree). All this does not prepare one for the simple beauty of the interior with its dazzling gold leaf reredos and high altar.
The neighbourhood: A stones-throw from Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Westminster Cathedral is just a short stroll in the opposite direction.
The cast: Celebrant and preacher: The Rt. Rev. Robert Jones, who is former Bishop of Wyoming and Dean of St George's College, Jerusalem.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Did anyone welcome you personally?
There was nobody at the door, which is unusual, apparently. I exchanged greetings with a couple on the way in who had worshipped here once or twice before. They pointed out that the service sheets had the previous Sunday's date on the front. This caused a little confusion.
Was your pew comfortable?
Wooden chairs. OK for me as I'm quite small. A large chap/ess may find them a little too flimsy.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very quiet. Although we disturbed the peace by inquiring about the service sheets.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
We stood when the bell rang as instructed in the service booklet and sang, "Now thank we all our God." Then the minister opened with, "Good morning, St Matthew's welcomes you."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
A printed service booklet.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
The copious amount of incense wafted about. I was concerned that I would have to reach for my inhaler.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Traditional Anglo-Catholic smells and bells. Didn't find it stiff, but full of reverence and very peaceful.