|896: All Saints, Wraxall, Somerset, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Ruth and Naomi.
The church: All Saints, Wraxall, Somerset, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: A beautiful parish church, with nave, north aisle, chancel and a lady chapel on the south side. A number of stained glass windows, including some features reflecting the influence of the Oxford Movement, for example St Veronica about to wipe Our Lord's face. Most of the windows are by Kempe.
The neighbourhood: A pleasant rural environment, with commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
The cast: Celebrant: Rev. Chris Horseman; a reader (no name given; a small choir, and the organist (Rosemary).
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
The nave was about half full. The north aisle had a scattering of people in it.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. We came in through the west door (under the tower) as this was the direction from which we approached the church. We were spotted by the sidespeople at the porch door, who welcomed us and gave us books and service sheets. They also asked us if we were intending to get married!
Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were fine. Naomi found the space a little inadequate for kneeling. It was OK for Ruth, though.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet. People were arriving and taking seats up to the start (and even slightly after the start) of the service.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Please sit for the notices."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Mission Praise, a locally produced service booklet (Common Worship Order 1 with some options), and a sheet specific to the day, with notices and readings.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ and piano.
Did anything distract you?
A mobile phone rang in the pew behind us. Ruth noticed that Mission Praise contained the same hymn twice (once with the addition of a couple of verses).
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Middle of the road liturgy, which was well done. The singing left a little to be desired the congregation barely seemed to sing at all. For the sung parts of the liturgy (the gloria, sanctus, etc.), there was a congregational setting which was not well sung at all. We felt a simpler setting might have been better.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
4 the sermon was delivered from below the chancel step (in front of the rood screen). Ruth couldn't see the preacher, and Naomi found his wandering around a little distracting. The sermon was delivered without notes.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"Where does the carrot end and the stick begin?" was a recurring question. The theme was about incentives to work for God's kingdom. It didn't link in with the readings, and didn't really seem to get anywhere.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Kneeling after communion, and the final hymn, which was "Glorious things of thee are spoken" (to the tune, Austria).
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The second communion hymn "When I feel the touch" sung by the choir, unfortunately not very well.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Immediately after the service had ended, people came over to speak to us, and offer us coffee and tea. Someone wanted to recruit Naomi to the choir.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea or coffee, available at the pew. There were also biscuits.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 if we lived in the village, we would be happy to worship here, although the lack of volume in the hymns might be a problem.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. A friend of ours commented that she felt better than she had done for a month.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The poor singing.