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447: St John the Baptist, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
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St John the Baptist, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Mystery Worshipper: Mrs Alighieri.
The church: St John the Baptist, Grainger Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: 19th century, fairly bare inside, with wrought ironwork and old-fashioned Victorian pews.
The church: One of the two high churches in the area, along with St George's Cullercoats. People come in from all over the area.
The neighbourhood: Central Newcastle, in the middle of Graingertown. The largest collection of Georgian townhouses outside of Bath. Just across from central station, and on the Westgate Road – the route of Hadrian's Wall in Newcastle.
The cast: Not given, although the names of the lectors and intercessors were, helpfully enough.
What was the name of the service?
Solemn Mass.

How full was the building?
About 40 people in a church that could happily hold several hundred.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. I looked at the notice sheets, then went to sit down. A greeter caught me, asked if I was staying, and handed me the hymn and service books.

Was your pew comfortable?
OK, I suppose. Not the comfiest.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet. Apart from one wretched bellringer who insisted on whistling.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
We sang, "For all the saints".

What books did the congregation use during the service?
New English Hymnal and Common Worship order one in traditional language. We also had a helpful order of service sheet.

What musical instruments were played?
Six-person choir, plus organ. Church bells were rung before the service, and very nicely.

Did anything distract you?
A bloke in a fila shirt who was wanderinng around randomly.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
About as high church as Newcastle gets.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
How do we honour the saints – basically by carrying on the unfinished work they started for God.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The processional singing.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Not feeling able to join in the creed or the Lord's Prayer out loud – they were sung. Also some of the singing in the choir sounded a bit strangled.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A nice bloke asked if I was OK and introduced himself as a local. He told me it was the best church in the diocese – I can believe it if you're into all the high church trimmings – it tends to be a bit thin on the ground round here.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 – It's actually my parish church, but I don't like too much incense etc. It is however very active, and I will certainly return for an incense fix occasionally.

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 little boy who headed up the procession with the thurifer round the church.
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