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|1540: St Andrew's
Cathedral, Honolulu, Hawaii
Andrew's Cathedral, Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Episcopal Church, Diocese
The cathedral is a wonderfully bright and spacious house of
worship in the early French Gothic Revival style. Complete with
a cloistered garden and a peal of bells in the tower, it resembles
parish churches in England dating from the late middle ages.
Plans for the cathedral were first laid by King Kamehameha IV
and his consort, Queen Emma, both devout Anglicans, in the early
1860s. After the untimely death of the king on St Andrew's Day,
November 30, 1863, the queen was determined to see the project
through to its completion as a memorial to her husband. The
first service was held in the cathedral on Christmas Day 1886.
Sadly, Queen Emma had died the previous year. Work on the cathedral
continued throughout the early 20th century, and the building
was finally consecrated in 1958. The cathedral is unmistakably
Gothic, something of an anachronism in modern downtown Honolulu.
Of special interest is the west window, reaching from the floor
to the eaves, depicting Thomas Staley, the first bishop of Hawaii,
standing with King Kamehameha and Queen Emma.
The cathedral stands as wonderful evidence of two cultures coming
together: the traditional Anglican culture and the native culture
of the Hawaiian Islands. Prayers as well as hymns in the traditional
Hawaiian language form a part of many of the cathedral's services.
The state of Hawaii consists of hundreds of islands in a volcanic
archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, only a few of which are populated
and only one of which is actually called Hawaii. Inhabited since
at least the fourth century, the islands were discovered in
1778 by the English explorer James Cook. A kingdom until 1893,
when the monarchy was overthrown, the islands were annexed by
the United States in 1898 and were granted statehood in 1959.
Honolulu, the state capital, is located on the island of Oahu.
The whole area around the cathedral was once part of the Hawaiian
royal family estate. Down the road is located Iolani Palace,
home to the royal family for many years. Further east is the
thriving beach-side metropolis of Waikiki, the center for tourism
in Hawaii. Southwest of Honolulu lies Pearl Harbor, made infamous
by the Japanese attack which brought the United States into
the second World War.
The celebrant was the Revd Canon Liz Beasley, canon for Communication
and Ministry Development for the diocese of Hawaii. The preacher
was the Rt Revd Carol Joy Gallagher, former assistant bishop
of the diocese of Newark and former bishop suffragan of the
diocese of Southern Virginia. The organist was the very talented
John Robert Renke, director of music. Joining the choir for
the morning was a guest tenor, Zachary Stains, from the Hawaii
The date & time:
February 24, 2008, 10.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
A bit more than half full, which was a little disappointing
seeing as there was a visiting bishop as well as a guest tenor.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Greetings were somewhat subdued at first. A lady at the entrance
mumbled "Welcome" as she handed me a service sheet.
I had arrived rather early, so there were no pew mates to say
hello to as I sat down. Later, the peace ceremony consisted
of just a quick shaking of hands with those around me, but no
one made special welcome. The after-service refreshments were
quite another story, though – read on!
Was your pew comfortable?
Just the standard old square wooden pews with solid backs, but
surprisingly they were quite comfortable indeed. The kneelers
were nicely padded and spaced far enough out from the pew in
front to encourage kneeling for the prayers. The only issue
came when everyone went to fold the kneelers back up for communion,
and a loud knocking could be heard from multiple pews.
How would you describe the pre-service
I arrived early so I got to witness the full pre-service atmosphere.
The choir were just finishing off a quick run-through, and the
sound of the choir in the mostly empty cathedral was just divine!
As parishioners started arriving, the chatter level increased
exponentially. Right before the processional hymn, a traditional
Hawaiian conch shell was sounded as a call to silence. This
was just one of the Hawaiian traditions I mentioned earlier
that were so beautifully crafted into the cathedral's liturgy.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins; his mercy endures
What books did the congregation use during the
The 1982 Hymnal and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
There was also a service sheet.
What musical instruments were played?
A magnificent four-manual Aeolian-Skinner organ, called "an
organist's dream" by one of the cathedral's former organists.
The instrument consists of 150 ranks of pipes as well as several
electronically sampled digital stops. The arrangement of pipes
and digital speakers gave a wonderful stereophonic sound which
was bright and clear.
Did anything distract you?
Chatter! The level of discussion that occurred before the service
and flowed into the beginning of the service. The peace ceremony
seemed to start some people off again. The guest tenor, Zachary
Stains, gave a beautiful rendition of Cesar Franck's Panis
Angelicus, but two elderly ladies in front of me thought
it appropriate to continue their conversation all through his
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The worship, while decidedly stiff-upper-lip in the best of
Anglican styles, was nevertheless a nice balance of the two
cultures. The sounding of the conch shell, traditionally reserved
for arriving Hawaiian royalty, was beautifully placed. We sang
one hymn, the very staid old "Guide me, o thou great Jehovah",
in Hawaiian as well as in English.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 The bishop's style was very moving and she accentuated
her points well.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The sermon was based on John 4:5-42, the encounter between Jesus
and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well. Jesus sat and conversed
with a Samaritan, whom Jews always tried to avoid. The woman
might seem an unworthy conversation partner for Jesus, given
her history with men, but Jesus looked past all of that and
did not judge her. In the same way, we should all put aside
our differences and seek God in all complicated times of life.
Which part of the service was like being in
Two parts. The first was the spine tingling sound of the conch
shell being played in the resonating acoustics of the cathedral.
The second was the beautifully sung Panis Angelicus.
It was definitely the best performance of that piece that I
have ever heard.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The really annoying chatter through parts of the service. I'm
not normally one to get concerned over some talk in the congregation
when it is quiet, but this was unashamedly loud chatter!
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I joined the queue of parishioners waiting to greet the clergy,
trying my best to look lost. When they heard my Aussie accent,
they welcomed me to the cathedral and a lady sped forward to
present me with a little visitor's bag. I thought this was quite
a nice touch. The bag contained a welcome letter from the dean,
a cathedral pen, a tour map of the building, and a nice card
with the cathedral painted on the front. I was then invited
to join others outside the cathedral for morning tea. While
still looking a little lost, I was soon approached by a number
of people who welcomed me personally.
How would you describe the after-service
Superb! Probably one of the best morning teas I have experienced.
There was freshly made iced tea, very sweet, being served out
of a giant punch bowl. Quite refreshing, as the morning was
a little hot. To eat there were huge bowls of potato chips,
cupcakes, biscuits and sandwiches by the tray load! To the side
I could see that there was iced water and the usual instant
coffee, but not many moved from the main table of goodies.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 The cathedral seems to be a welcoming place of worship
but also offers many other weekday services, musical performances,
ministries of all different kinds, and a nice incorporation
of traditional Hawaiian values. It seemed to me to be a real
happening and growing community.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. The dignified celebration of the Eucharist, excellent preaching
of the Word, and magnificent singing of hymns all combined to
make this a very special Christian experience.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The bishop saying that we should lay aside our differences,
sit beside one another, and listen to each other, as Jesus did
with the Samaritan woman at the well.
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