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407: St Olave, Marygate, York, England
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St Olave, Marygate, York, England
Mystery Worshipper: Sarum Sleuth.
The church: St Olave, Marygate, York, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Late Gothic of medium size and built of magnesian limestone. Rather dark inside, with a lovely 15th century east window, and well furnished in the Anglo-Catholic manner.
The church: There seemed to be a good range of ages present at the service. The congregation appeared to be largely middle-class and comfortably off.
The neighbourhood: The ruins of St Mary's Abbey are next door. The area is one of the more gracious parts of York, as was largely reflected in the congregation.
The cast: The celebrant was Rev. Jan Cheeseman. The preacher was the vicar, Rev. Anthony Hodge.
What was the name of the service?
Sung Eucharist. It was a proper high mass with three ministers.

How full was the building?
The nave was comfortably full, about 80 plus.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, I was welcomed by a sidesman.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was Victorian, and not especially comfortable. Like so many of its type, the ledge for books was inadequate.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The bells were quite loud in the church, which was probably as well, given the amount of talking going on.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father..."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Eucharist Booklet (Common Worship, Order 1), and the New English Hymnal.

What musical instruments were played?
The organ.

Did anything distract you?
The reader of the first lesson was unnecessarily over-dramatic. But the most distracting feature was the free-range child at the back, who screamed throughout the service, unchecked by parents. By contrast, the other children present were all well behaved.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Modernized English use with incense. It was a shame they didn't seem to know the right place for the thurifer in the procession, but otherwise it was all pretty accurate, and there were no abominations such as genuflecting behind the altar. There was none of that terrible Anglo-Catholic self-consciousness in evidence.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Very much the typical "Affirming Catholicism" style of sermon. Unfortunately, I was unable to observe his mannerisms, as I was sitting behind a pillar.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Hospitality in the eucharist.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The dignified and unfussy ceremonial. The choir were also very effective in the introit, sung from the back of the church.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The prayers went on far too long. And I found myself entertaining murderous thoughts about the parents of that child by the end.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I met two friends and was dragged off to the pub (protesting, of course). I had a short conversation with the vicar, during which I confessed to being the Mystery Worshipper.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I never participated in this, having been warned off. It appeared to be of the Nescafé school.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – If I lived in York, this is where I would attend regularly. Just the right level of churchmanship for me, and seemingly a friendly congregation.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The incense rising up in front of that lovely 15th century window.
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