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Church, Vienna, Austria
Church, Vienna, Austria.
of England, Diocese
A brick-built Gothic Revival building dating from the late
19th century designed by central European architect Viktor
Rumpelmayer. Its interior has plain white walls. The majority
of windows are clear glass, the originals having been destroyed
at the end of the Second World War. The east window, however,
does have stained glass and carries the inscription: "Dedicated
to the Glory of God by the British Troops in Austria 1945-1948".
It was designed by Frederick W. Cole, who had served during
the war as a captain in the Royal Engineers designing camouflage
but who was also chief designer for stained glass makers William
Morris and Co.
This Anglican chaplaincy in Vienna serves people in Austria,
Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia. They describe themselves as
an English-speaking family of around 500 Christians from many
nations. The church building is owned by the Church of England
but further facilities have been created thanks to the community
efforts of the Christ Church Support Association. The church
holds several services a week, including on Sundays Holy Communion
(BCP) at 8.00am and a eucharist at 10.00am. There are also
morning services on Tuesdays and Wednesdays alongside various
special services. Other activities include house groups, a
Bible group and a Sunday School.
The church is situated in Landstrasse, Vienna's third district.
In the southeast of the city with just over 80,000 inhabitants,
the area is known mostly for Belvedere Palace, originally
built for Prince Eugene of Savoy in the early 18th century
(today it houses a museum and art galleries) and the Hundertwasserhaus,
an expressionist building featuring undulating floors and
trees growing inside rooms, built in the 1980s. The church
is set adjacent to a number of embassies, including the British
The Venerable Patrick Curran, Chaplain and Archdeacon of the
Eastern Archdeaconry of the Church of England, Diocese in
Europe, assisted by the Revd John Dunbar Koch, curate (who
is also known as "Jady Koch").
The date & time:
14 November 2010, 10.50am.
What was the name of
Remembrance Sunday Service.
How full was the building?
The church was full – about 100 people. Many nations
were represented, albeit informally, including Austrians,
a Chilean, Czechs and Germans as well as Nigerians and a Beninese.
Did anyone welcome you
I was welcomed by two or three people, none of whom had any
obvious official role, and was handed a service sheet. There
was an unusual amount of activity, as there had been a 10.00am
eucharist and a number of people were leaving that service
as I arrived.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was hard and wooden, which filled me with Puritan
glee, but there was adequate room for kneeling at the appropriate
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Although a number of people were leaving the previous eucharist
as I arrived, there was a reverential silence in the moments
leading up to the service itself.
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
"We are here to worship Almighty God, whose purposes
are good, whose power sustains the world he made, and who
loves us, though we have failed in his service."
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
The service was contained on the printed booklet, though there
were copies of The English Hymnal in the pew.
What musical instruments
A fine, small organ, with ten stops on two manuals and pedal,
which was built by the Quebec-based organ builder Latourneau
Did anything distract
The only distraction was a large Union flag draped across
the left-hand side of the altar. In normal circumstances this
would have troubled me greatly, but since it was a Remembrance
Day service it was an understandable, if distracting, addition.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
Mainstream Anglican hymns set to traditional melodies with
a hint of early church music, including an organ prelude by
Byrd. The choir were seated in a gallery beside the organ
console and the members were of a professional standard. Music,
particularly the choir, plays an important role in the liturgy.
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
8 The archdeacon spoke fluently, with a gentle Canadian
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
The sermon was based loosely on Luke 23 (the burial of Jesus)
but referred to the sacrifice of many during the world wars,
Iraq and Afghanistan. It extended the Remembrance theme to
recent wars, including those with no British involvement,
and carefully wove in themes of freedom and democracy, including
the release from house arrest of the Burmese pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi the previous day.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
There were three memorable and moving events. "The Last Post"
was sounded by a uniformed trumpeter from the Austrian army:
a symbol of reconciliation and unity. The service sheet carried
an illustration of the National Monument to the Women of WWII.
This had unusual poignancy that even now I struggle to explain.
Maybe it being so far from Blighty, but the words of the hymn
"This is my song, O God of all the nations" (Finlandia), particularly
"My country's skies are bluer than
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands
have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as
blue as mine."
It brought tears to many eyes as only
the worst excesses of Victoriana can (even though the words
were written in the 1930s!).
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
The embarrassment I felt singing the British National Anthem
while sitting between an Austrian and a German. They clearly
felt no such pain and joined in more lustily than I ever could.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
Both the Austrian (who turned out to be Danish by birth) and
the German initiated conversations at the end of the service.
The whole congregation were invited to a reception at the
British embassy, so there was a mass exodus in that general
direction as soon as the organist had finished his rendition
of Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C minor.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Magnificent! There was actually no coffee, but instead unlimited
quantities of wine, orange juice, gluhwein (mulled
wine) and beer with hot and cold canapes. I was told, however,
that the normal fare was generally less substantial.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
9 It being Remembrance Sunday, the service was an exceptional
event. However, I felt welcomed and at home despite the obvious
diversity of the congregation.
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. The warmth of the congregation, the quality of the music
and the straightforward yet thoughtful preaching were challenging
and comforting in equal measure.
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The after-service "coffee".
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