|489: St Mary & Michael, Trumpington, Cambridge, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Ruth & Naomi.
The church: St Mary & Michael, Trumpington, Cambridge, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Nice old church with a side chapel for the reserved sacrament and lots of Gothic arches. Colourful chancel ceiling.
The neighbourhood: This is a country village just outside Cambridge the loss of the hustle and bustle of the city is quite noticeable.
The cast: Rev. Tom Ambrose, the vicar, was the celebrant. There was also a crucifer, a thurifer and a deacon.
What was the name of the service?
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
How full was the building?
Fairly empty, but the fact that the congregation were sat together in the middle and at the front of the nave meant it didn't seem it.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, and gave us books and a candle each.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were comfortable. Ruth doesn't like pews with doors, as this makes moving in and out awkward. Naomi thought that while the kneelers were comfortable, there wasn't quite space to kneel comfortably.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet, though the absence of any music meant that whispers and preparations were very audible.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est" (this was sung).
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Hymns Ancient & Modern New Standard. A booklet with the liturgy of the eucharist, supplemented by a sheet for Candlemas.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
The choir were a bit of a distraction, being in direct line of sight behind the nave altar, and because they seemed unaware of the prominence of their position. We thought they would have been better left at the west end, from where the introit had been sung. The sound coming from somewhere unseen adds a great unearthliness.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
High Anglican. Smells but no bells. Servers were vested in albs. The eucharistic prayer was chanted in its entirety, not something either of us have heard done before.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The moment between the eucharistic prayer and the Lord's prayer. The consecration having been completed, the incense hung in the air and there was a true sense of peace.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Nothing really, but there were one or two blemishes on an otherwise excellent service. After the post-communion prayer, the vicar instructed us, in a quite a chatty way, about what was to be done with the candles, which broke the atmosphere. It also seemed a shame to have no confession.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Difficult to look lost in such a small congregation. We were greeted by both the vicar and deacon.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 Ruth cycles past about seven other Anglican churches, plus various college chapels and churches of other denominations to get to this church the distance is a bit of a disadvantage. One gets the impression that this is not their usual style of worship, and it would be interesting to see a "normal" Sunday morning eucharist.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. The Latin mass setting (Palestrina Missa Brevis) reminded Naomi of being in a succession of Christians from the earliest days, and the sanctus made Ruth think of the angels singing in many different languages.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
There was a procession, with candles, to the font at the end of the service. The thurifer was preparing the thurible before it, but couldn't get it to smoke at all, and had to swing it furiously in an attempt to get it to work, before giving it up as a lost cause.