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510: St Mary the Virgin, Waverley, Sydney, Australia.
Other reports | Comment on this report
St Mary the Virgin, Waverley, Sydney, Australia
Mystery Worshipper: Ecumaniac.
The church: St Mary the Virgin, Waverley, Sydney, Australia.
Denomination: Anglican (Anglo-Catholic).
The building: It's old, built in the 1860s, quite spacious and "churchy".
The church: St Mary's is one of the very few Anglo-Catholic parishes in the Anglican diocese of Sydney.
The neighbourhood: Opposite the church is Waverly College, which is a Roman Catholic school. On top of the building, directly overlooking St Mary's, is a statue of St Mary "the Immaculate". The church is also close to a large comms tower with satellite dishes shaped like panadol tablets!
The cast: Fr. Terrence Dicks (rector).
What was the name of the service?
Quinquagesima Evening Prayer and Benediction.

How full was the building?
Sixteen in the congregation and 16 clergy/choir, in a church with a capacity of 250. So it was 12.8 per cent full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I arrived too early, but a couple of the ministers smiled and nodded to me as they walked around preparing stuff.

Was your pew comfortable?
Fairly standard wooden pew. We didn't have to spend long stretches of time sitting.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet and reverent. And dark (until the lights went on).

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"God save our gracious Queen..." (sung: this was Accession Sunday). There were no spoken words until the first reading from Hosea chapter 14.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
An A4-size stapled order of service booklet.

What musical instruments were played?
Pipe organ and digital piano on harpsichord setting.

Did anything distract you?
I get distracted by excessive amounts of old-fashioned, Book-of-Common-Prayer English. Hymns in BCP English I can cope with, but an entire service is a bit much.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was very structured and ritualized (not ritualistic), with a strong sense of reverence.

St Mary the Virgin, Waverley, Sydney, Australia

Exactly how long was the sermon?
5 minutes.

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

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The psalms being comprehensive of human emotions. God is there when things go wrong.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The choir sang the psalm perfectly. It was musically perfect, the words were clear and they sang with expression and meaning.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Nothing was that bad. But during the benediction, we were kneeling a lot and the kneelers are far less comfortable than they look. The "heritage" kneelers date from the 1860s and were rather lumpy.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I got directed to the verandah of the hall where supper was being served.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was coffee which I didn't drink, being Lent and all. I was impressed with the English Breakfast tea, usually all you get is generic Liptons. Lots of bread rolls, very tasy cheese and many yummy biscuits were on offer.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – Apart from logistical difficulties such as living in a different state and being from a different denomination, I think I could settle here fairly well. It would take several months to get used to the old English, though. I'm afraid I value comprehension over poetry.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
On the altar were these unbelievably tall candles, over a metre tall. I was very disappointed when I found out that only the top sections were real candles. That's cheating!

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