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|2032: All Saints,
East St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia
East St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia.
Church of Australia, Diocese
One of Melbourne's oldest churches, All Saints is a huge Gothic
church. It is said to be the largest parish church in the
Southern Hemisphere, holding 1400 people. It is constructed
of bluestone, with a steeply gabled slate roof over the nave
and similar roofs over the two side aisles, giving the building
the appearance of three conjoined churches. A tower was planned
but never built. According to legend, the man who pledged
money for the tower in memory of his late wife subsequently
remarried and found other uses for his money. The interior
is replete with the ornate furnishings and artwork associated
with the Anglo-Catholic tradition. At the chancel steps are
two enormous gas candelabras from St George's Chapel, Windsor,
obtained in the 19th century by Father John Gregory, the first
vicar of All Saints, and known as "Gregory's Goal Posts."
Of special interest is the Nuffield/Cowley Rood, a large crucifix
with figures of Our Lady and St John, that originally hung
in St Luke's Church, Oxford Road, Cowley, England. The rood
lay in storage until 2002, when it was cleaned, repaired,
and fixed to the east wall of the south transept. In the past
two years there has been a $1 million restoration of the church,
and it looks magnificent.
The parish is one of the few in Australia that still uses
the 1662 Book of Common Prayer – though really it
is the English Missal! It was Melbourne's first Anglo-Catholic
parish, and still continues with traditional high mass and
excellent music. Many people attend because of the liturgy
and music. The parish also has an outreach programme, with
community meals and food collections.
St Kilda was one of Melbourne's prestigious suburbs in the
19th century. There are still many fine homes, but since the
1950s it has become a suburb of apartments, with a vibrant
night life. Near the church is St Michael's Grammar, an Anglican
school that uses the church for school services.
The Revd Ian Hunter was celebrant and preacher. He is the
locum during the vicar's three months long service leave.
The Revd Neil Fryer, S.S.C., associate priest, served as deacon.
The organist was Mr David Macfarlane.
The date & time:
Sunday, 8 August 2010, 10.00am.
What was the name of
How full was the building?
It looked empty – but 75 people looked lost in a church that
Did anyone welcome you
Yes. A friendly couple welcomed me and gave me the books for
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes. Wooden pew with fitted cushion and new kneeler.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
I arrived 10 minutes early and there were only two people
in church. It was very quiet. As people drifted in, the quietness
was retained, with people saying their prayers and lighting
candles at the shrines.
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
The choir sang the introit from the missal – but I could
not make out the words, as it was sung from the back as they
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
Mass book and bulletin, which contained the words of the hymns.
You could ask for a hymnal (New English Hymnal) if
you wanted the music.
What musical instruments
Organ and a choir of 16 men and boys. All Saints is probably
the only Australian parish church that still has a boys' choir.
Did anything distract
At the altar, the celebrant turned and spoke to the subdeacon
several times. I presume he was asking questions or instructions,
as this was his first Sunday as locum.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
Very formal High Anglican, appropriate to the liturgy and
tradition. The choir sang a mass setting, so the congregation
was excluded from much of the liturgy – but they belted out
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
9 Father Hunter began in a relaxed manner, making us
feel comfortable. He spoke clearly and gave a scholarly sermon
that was also down-to-earth and easily understood.
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
Preaching on the gospel, he began with an explanation of apocalyptic
scripture. He referred to the second coming, and those groups
who emphasise this. He called them "distortions!" I loved
his phrase: "Bookkeeper God."
He then referred to the catholic understanding, focusing
on God's love, and the incarnational God. It was one of the
best expositions on this subject that I have heard.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The communion anthem, "O How Amiable" by Vaughan Williams.
It was sung sweetly by the choir, though they lacked the power
of other choirs who I have heard sing this piece. This may
be because the church is so large.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
The music played for the gospel procession was like a dirge.
I have never heard such slow and melancholy music for the
gospel procession. It made what should be a triumphal procession
into almost an anti-climax.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
I joined the line-up at the door and was welcomed by the clergy.
A layman insisted I go to the hall for morning tea.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
I did not have coffee because there was a selection of port
and sherry offered. There were lots of nice nibbles and cheeses
to go with it. Tea, coffee and cake were also offered, as
well as goodies for the children.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
9 I am not sure I could cope with the 1662 Prayer Book
every Sunday – but they make up for that with excellent music
and friendly people.
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Gregory's Goal Posts.
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