|573: St John the Baptist, Glastonbury, Somerset, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Egeria.
The church: St John the Baptist, Glastonbury, Somerset, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: It's a large mediaeval parish church, remodelled in the 15th century, with one of the elaborate and beautiful towers for which Somerset churches are famous. It stands a little back from the High Street, behind its churchyard. Inside it's spacious and full of light.
The neighbourhood: Glastonbury is two different towns, or perhaps one town on two different planes. One is a solid Somerset market town with some handsome buildings and the ruins of the mediaeval abbey. The other is a new age centre with shops selling crystals and esoterica of all kinds in the window of a bookshop near the church I spotted one called "Jesus, Last of the Pharoahs."
The cast: The Rev. John Burgess
What was the name of the service?
Holy communion (1662)
How full was the building?
About 15 or 20 people dotted around the nave but this was the 8.00am service, and the main eucharist is at 9.30am.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The man at the door who handed me my prayer book said, "Good morning".
Was your pew comfortable?
Well, it was a standard sort of pew. Nice squishy kneeler, though.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Silent and reverent, disturbed only by the footsteps of people coming in and the pealing of a single bell in the tower.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Our Father which art in Heaven..."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Book of Common Prayer.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
The unfamiliarity of the prayer book service, and the realisation that this was how the eucharist was celebrated in England, and where English people settled, for over 400 years from the Reformation.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very restrained; there was no opportunity to be anything else.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 It was short, direct and to the point, as a three-minute sermon can hardly avoid being.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was the weekend of the Jubilee, so he spoke about the Queen and her dedication to her job, and how we should emulate that dedication.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Being in that huge, quiet, sunlit space.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
My pathetic incompetence with the BCP. I couldn't remember where anything was and kept losing my place.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing everyone left at once. The celebrant stood by the door and shook hands with us all; I got a "Nice to see you."
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 It's hard to tell from going to the 8 o'clock service but apart from the beauty of the building I got the impression (when I came back for a look round next day) that it's quite a lively community. And the new vicar is a woman.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Cranmer's liturgical genius and radicalism, particularly his use of material from the newly-translated English Bible and the transposition of the Gloria to a position after communion disconcerting but pleasing.