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|2297: St Michael's,
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Photo: Courtesy of Bob Hostetler
|Mystery Worshipper: Fluffy Bunny.
The church: St Michael's,
Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
Denomination: The Episcopal Church, Diocese of
The current Georgian building was built in the 1750s, in the
style of London's St Martin in the Fields. It occupies the
site of a small wooden church built in the 1680s, and is the
oldest surviving church in Charleston, having National Historic
Landmark status. The clock and ring of eight bells came from
England in the 18th century and the sacristy was a later addition
in the 19th century. The seating is in enclosed boxes, each
with its own door and cushioned pews and some chairs in larger
St Michael's offers Alpha courses and a number of social and
The neighborhood: Charleston, on South Carolina's Atlantic coastline,
was founded in 1670 but at a slightly different location (it
moved to its present site ten years later). It is sometimes
called the Holy City due to the numerous church steeples that
dot the city skyline. It was also one of the few cities in
the American colonies to practice religious tolerance (well,
for Protestants and Jews anyway). St Michael's Church sits
at the downtown intersection known as the "Four Corners
of the Law", so named because not only the church (canon
law) but also the post office, federal building, and county
courthouse sit there. The county courthouse, erected in 1790,
is thought to have served as a model for the White House in
Washington, DC. There are also any number of hotels, restaurants
and churches of other denominations on the same street and
in close proximity.
The Revd Alfred T. K. Zadig, Jr., rector.
The date & time: December 7, 2011, 7.00pm.
What was the name of the
Lessons and Carols for
was the building?
full downstairs but I couldn't see
anyone welcome you personally?
We were encouraged to come in, as the choir were filling the
front porch and it was not immediately obvious whether it
was the correct way to enter or not. We were given our service
sheets and advised where the best place to sit would be.
Was your pew comfortable?
The cushioned pews were very
would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was very quiet. There was very little
pre-service chatter and the organ was playing very quietly.
The church was very dark with minimal
the exact opening words of the service?
There were no opening words. The choir started the service
with Palestrina's Matin Responsory.
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
Just the service sheet, although the page numbers of the readings
were published so you could read along in the pew Bibles (The
Holy Bible, English Standard Version) if
you so wished.
What musical instruments
Just the organ.
Did anything distract you?
The choir attempted a very difficult selection of pieces that
were performed with varying degrees of success. Jesus
Christ the Apple Tree was amazingly well done, but O
Magnum Mysterium was a little poorly tuned.
worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
There was good liturgical flow with no hiccups between choir
pieces, readings or communal singing. It probably leans toward
high church, as the carols were all truly for Advent and not
Exactly how long was the
of the service was like being in heaven?
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree. It was sung so well
by the choir it really lifted the spirit.
part was like being in... er... the other place?
During one number, the choir came down from the balcony. But
it was done very loudly and with much clattering of feet on
wooden stairs, which did detract from the small amount of
prayer time during the service.
happened when you hung around after the service looking
A few people spoke to us, and when the rector discovered we
were English, we were pointed toward parishioners who were
also English. We were gently encouraged to leave, as they
wanted to lock up. There had been a dinner before the service,
however, and the welcome may have been warmer if we had attended
How would you describe the
How would you
feel about making this church your regular (where 10 =
ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – However, I would have to emigrate to be able to.
Did the service
make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about
all this in seven days' time?
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.
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