|603: King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: St Delphine.
The church: King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Does King's College Chapel need describing? Long, narrow and high, wonderful ceiling, huge windows although too busy for my liking, divided by an organ screen half way down. People not staying for the whole time, or who had young children were asked to sit the far side of the organ screen. Once through the screen there are stalls for the choir, members of college and members of the university. Beyond the stalls are more seats for the public.
The church: It's original purpose was to serve the college community, and it still does that, but due to its worldwide musical reputation it attracts a large number of tourists.
The neighbourhood: There are a large number of churches and chapels nearby. Just outside is Great St Mary's which King's dwarfs.
The cast: The Dean (I think) who I think led the prayers and the Chaplain, Rev. Maggi Dawn who was cantor, and of course, the choir.
What was the name of the service?
Festal Evensong with Procession (Eve of Michaelmas).
How full was the building?
Pretty full. There were no university seats left so we ended up with the plebs.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were told to hurry up and caused a bit of confusion by saying we were members of the university, but all the seats had gone so we were sent up to sit near the altar.
Was your pew comfortable?
Not too bad as pews go, although the space for books was much smaller than the College service book. Nor were there any kneelers. On an earlier visit I did sit in the university seats which are more comfortable (there are some advantages to being a member of the university!).
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
We joined the queue outside at about 5.20pm and got in at about 5.30pm just before it started. Fairly quiet really both in the queue and inside.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
After the introit and office hymn was a scripture sentence of which I didn't catch a word, then, "Dearly Beloved Brethren..."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
King's College Chapel Service book, a small psalter (to follow the psalm) and NEH. The Service book said the words of the anthem would be in the Anthem book but I didn't see any such thing.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ and the choir.
Did anything distract you?
The wizard in the East window, with a pointy hat and a beard. I looked back at the window as I was leaving, and saw that the top half was the crucifixion so decided it was probably Pontius Pilate. I never knew Pontius Pilate was a wizard.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Anglican Choral Evensong.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Singing "Angel Voices ever singing" with the sun setting through the West Window giving it very intense colours. There was something wonderful about singing the lines "Craftsmen's art and music's measure / for thy pleasure / all combine" in King's Chapel where you have fine examples of both and the sunset just topped it off.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Kneeling on the marble floor. I don't know why they don't provide kneelers and hopefully it would encourage people to kneel (when instructed, although the instruction were a bit odd as you were told to stand for the opening responses rather than remaining kneeling until the Gloria Patri, and told to kneel before the "let us pray" in the second responses). You have to be dedicated to kneel on cold marble for any length of time it is not comfortable!
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Not a lot, we listened to the voluntary for a while then wandered around looking at the stained glass and were greeted by the chaplain as we went out.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There wasn't any.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 The choir is good yes, but I think the regular tourist attendance would make any real feeling of community difficult.
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 sunset and "Angel Voices".