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483: Christ Church, Hampstead Square, London
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Christ Church, Hampstead Square, London
Mystery Worshipper: Marcellus.
The church: Christ Church, Hampstead Square, London NW3.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: A stately Victorian Church with a slender spire, built of ragstone in 1851-52. Originally with both north and south aisles, but north aisle now closed off to form an area for play school or something similar.
The neighbourhood: The church is very near to Hampstead Heath, a fairly opulent area.
The cast: The vicar was away this week and the service was celebrated by a retired priest.
What was the name of the service?
Parish Eucharist.

How full was the building?
Forty people, which included a professional choir of eight and two children.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Not really, I was very early and the choir was beginning its rehearsal so I introduced myself to them.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, the pews had runners on the seats which made them quite comfortable. Good kneelers but only just enough leg room to kneel.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet, no chatter. There were too few people to make much noise.

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

What books did the congregation use during the service?
English Hymnal, service sheet, The Eucharist (a service book).

What musical instruments were played?
Organ with professional choir – excellent voices.

Did anything distract you?
The blank north wall of the church where the arcade had been filled in for play school. Very ugly.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Middle class, middle of road, no incense, but vestments.

Christ Church, Hampstead Square, London

Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – He preached without notes from the centre of the nave.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The transfiguration. We first learned that this feast has been moved in the church calendar several times. The main theme of the sermon was that we must think of Jesus, holy communion and also the transfiguration as being outside time. This is a difficult concept, but essential to our faith.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The singing of the choir. They sang a mass setting by Lassus – Missa Osculeteur Me.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The solitary server who administered the chalice not only had a full length zip down the alb he was wearing, but also mumbled the words, "Body of Christ" at the communion. Everyone stood to receive communion and I realy don't like that convention either.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I hung around a lot as I was taking photos. I was approached by the church warden who encouraged me in my photography and also by a lady who was interested in having some digital images for a proposed guidebook.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I never seem to find time to have coffee. Wine was also flowing freely as well.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
1 – Rather depressing interior. The church needs something to brighten it up.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Not particularly.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
A very attractive reredos of the Last Supper.

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