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|2611: St James
Cathedral, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Church of St James, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Anglican Church of Canada, Diocese
A Gothic-styled cathedral that was erected following a fire
that destroyed the previous building. The present cathedral
is built from local brick and Ohio stone; it opened for services
in 1853. The interior is very Gothic and open, with a traditional
layout of nave, choir, sanctuary and side aisles.
The Diocese of Toronto is huge, covering an area of 26,000 square
kilometres. The cathedral hosts a drop-in health clinic that
provides information regarding community resource as well as
foot care, hygiene products, hair cuts and the like. There are
two weekly music recitals, a change ringing practice, and a
chance to ring the bells. They also offer a volunteer parish
choir (not the cathedral's fully professional regular choir).
Fires seem to have destroyed Toronto twice in its history, which
makes for very interesting surroundings. But in this area there
are some stunning tower blocks, posh hotels and enormous condominiums.
And trolley wires!
Andrew Ager, interim associate organist, gave an organ recital.
Choral evensong was sung in the presence of the Very Revd Douglas
Stout, dean and rector, who gave the blessing. The Revd Dr Walter
Hannam, associate priest, also attended in choir. The officiant
was the Revd Canon David Brinton, OGS, sub-dean and vicar, and
the homilist was the Revd Lisa Wang, associate priest. One server
acted as crucifer. Vicki St Pierre, associate choral director,
led the choir of St James Cathedral.
The date & time:
Sunday, 6 October 2013, 4.00pm.
What was the name of the service?
Organ Recital and Choral Evensong.
How full was the building?
Without the clergy and choir there were a smattering of people
down the nave, somewhere in the region of 50. Fairly empty for
such a large building.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
No, and more about this later!
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was OK not particularly comfortable, not a huge
amount of leg room or kneeling space if, like me, you are tall.
To gain access, one had to unlock the door to the pew and then
lock it again once settled in lest it open accidentally.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
I arrived about ten minutes before the start of the organ recital.
Things were very quiet, with few people there. Mr Ager's recital
featured works by Buxtehude, Bach and Hindemith.
What were the exact opening words of the
There no words of welcome. The first sentence spoken was: "The
first lesson is written in the Second Book of Kings." Up
until this point everything had been played or sung. Choral
evensong had started with the processional hymn, "God that
madest earth and heaven", sung preces and responses, and
What books did the congregation use during the
I had to collect (that is to say, we weren't handed) The
Book of Common Prayer 1962 Canada, which was stuffed with
a sheet detailing the music for the organ recital plus a service
outline that gave page numbers, hymn numbers, composers, readings,
the words of the anthem, etc., and the rubric to "Please stand
and sit with the clergy." In the pew was the Book of Common
Praise, the hymnal of the Anglican Church of Canada.
What musical instruments
The organ, originally an opus of the great 19th century Canadian
organ builder Samuel Russell Warren of Montreal. A major overhaul
was undertaken in 1936 by the noted Quebec firm of Casavant
Frères. In 1979 a moveable console was installed by JW
Walker & Son of London, pipe organ builders and tuners by
appointment to Her Majesty the Queen.
Did anything distract
Mrs St Pierre conducted the choir wonderfully, but she was wearing
the most amazing academic hood, as stiff as board, with a beautiful
and interesting lining. I would love to have been to the university
that dishes them out! The other distraction was a box on top
of the pulpit that was meant to hold the preacher's notes
it reminded me of an oversized cereal box!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
This was cathedral worship at (almost) its best: very traditional,
very dignified, and very Anglican.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 The Revd Mrs Wang's style was clear and her homily
was very well delivered, with a demonstration half-way through
of how to rub your head whilst tapping your stomach. Believe
it or not, it fitted in with the sermon!
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
A day has been set aside in early October to honour Our Lady
of the Rosary, sometimes referred to as Our Lady of Victory,
ever since Pope Pius V attributed a 16th century naval victory
over the Ottoman navy to a campaign throughout Europe to pray
the Rosary. When we pray the Rosary we remember various events
in the life of Jesus, which are called Mysteries. When we pray
the Rosary, we aren't praying to Mary, but rather with Mary
a very powerful prayer partner to have.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
I loved the sermon, but it was also so wonderful to hear a professional
cathedral choir at work. The anthem by Gibbons (Almighty
and Everlasting God) took me straight to heaven!
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
The welcome (or lack thereof). Someone glanced at me as I arrived,
but more with a suspicious look than a welcoming look. Once
I had locked myself in my pew, I noticed others bringing books
and service sheets with them as they came in, so I emancipated
myself and found the necessary books at the back. But worst
of all, across the aisle from me was a young couple who also
hadn't been given books, and I felt terrible for them as they
evidently didn't know what was going on in the service. If I
hadn't been locked in my pew I would have gone across the aisle
and offered them mine. I also could have done with a short bathroom
break between the organ recital and the start of evensong.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
There was nothing to hang around for.
How would you describe the after-service
There wasn't any.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 I love cathedral worship done well, and now that I
know the score I'll pick up my books and visit the loo before
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Oh yes. It is so nice at times to let the liturgy waft over
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
That I need to dust off my Rosary beads when I get home.
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