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|2640: St Margaret's,
Worshipper: Don Bosco, accompanied
by Mamma Margaret.
Margaret's, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, England.
of England, Diocese
Dating from 1879 and paid for in part by fines levied upon sidesmen
who failed to appear for their appointed rotas, it is the work
of late 19th century architect Richard Norman Shaw. Shaw's other
designs include Lowther Lodge, headquarters of the Royal Geographical
Society, and the Norman Shaw Buildings, which until 1967 were
the location of New Scotland Yard. St Margaret's is in the Perpendicular
Gothic style, with the east end towering high above the road
due to its location on a hillside. The interior is decidedly
Gothic: bare stone with wooden floor and terra cotta tiles.
There are choir stalls, altar rails, a pulpit, and an imposing
rood screen with crucifix. The high altar is topped with a spectacular
painted carved reredos depicting the Ascension. At the west
end is a large baptistery. Much of the stained glass is intricately
detailed. Stations of the Cross line the walls.
Devoted to the Oxford Movement right from the start, St Margaret's
has always been proud of its adherence to Anglo-Catholic tradition
(despite cries of "No popery!" as the robed choir
processed in during less enlightened times). They place a great
emphasis on music, supporting several choirs who sing at their
different services. There is also a Mothers' Union and a lunch
club. The parish is part of Churches Together in Ilkley, a group
encompassing all the denominations of Christianity in Ilkley,
professing a common mission statement.
Ilkley was once the site of a Roman fort and is home to the
infamous Ilkley Moor, the setting for the folk song On Ilkla
Moor Baht 'at ("On Ilkley Moor Without Your Hat"),
the unofficial county anthem of Yorkshire. On the moor can be
found several rock formations carved with shapes resembling
swastikas (but thought by some to date from Roman times). The
skyline is dominated by two rocks, one large and one small,
close by each other, which are known as the Cow and Calf rocks.
Ilkley itself is a spa town and a popular tourist destination.
A high proliferation of small independent shops also attracts
the quality-conscious shopper. St Margaret's Church is located
right on the edge of the Ilkley Moor, on a very steep hill.
The Revd Canon Philip Gray, vicar, was celebrant. The Revd Canon
Bernard Gribbin, retired priest in residence, preached. The
deacon, subdeacon, and another priest in cope were not named.
The date & time:
Christmas Eve, 24 December 2013, 10.30pm.
What was the name of the service?
First Mass of Christmas.
How full was the building?
The main part of the nave was comfortably full I should
imagine just under 300 people.
Did anyone welcome you
The vicar introduced himself at the door, and another greeter
handed us the order of service with a warm smile and a "Thank
you very much."
Was your pew comfortable?
A stand-alone wooden chair, typically seen in buildings of this
period. Kneelers were provided for those who prefer kneeling
to the Anglican crouch.
How would you describe the pre-service
At the back, people were greeting each other, laughing and talking.
But those sitting were quiet and expectant. The bells started
to ring. A few minutes before the service started, the vicar
gave a brief welcome and asked us to maintain silence in preparation.
What were the exact opening words of the
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
What books did the congregation use during the
An order of service with all the responses, readings, and notes for the chanted parts of the service.
What musical instruments
The church's organ was played throughout, and a sizeable choir
sang excerpts from a mass setting (the French Baroque composer
Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Messe De Minuit Pour Noel)
and an anthem during distribution of communion. The organ dates
from 1891 and was moved to Prestwich Hospital chapel in 1956.
It was returned to St Margaret's in the 1980s, refurbished and
augmented, and rededicated in 1987.
Did anything distract
Three butterflies flitted about the nave on this day
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
I have to say "ritualistic" for the following reason:
There were all the trappings of Anglo-Catholicism (incense,
bells, crucifer, acolytes, sung responses, robed choir, beautiful
Gothic vestments), but this was destroyed by the childish language
in Common Worship. There was an emphasis on Anglican
rather than the Catholic.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 Canon Gribbin spoke sagely, reading from a script.
Certainly very wise in his years, he delivered the sermon fluently
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
When we need to communicate something important, even in this
age of modern technology, we do it face-to-face. The Lord spoke
through prophets in the Old Testament, then himself through
the Incarnation. God is not somehow sitting back and watching
the world, but is here with us, Emmanuel. God suffers with those
who suffer and are poor, especially during these troubled times
for Christians in the Middle East. Although God's love cannot
be forced on anyone, such as those who choose not to worship,
he never turns away from them. Nothing in heaven or earth can
separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Which part of the service was like being in
Mamma Margaret had tears rolling down her cheeks as she watched
the preparation and censing of the gifts whilst we sang the
offertory hymn "It came upon a midnight clear."
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
After taking communion, I managed to get lost and somehow ended
up behind the organ console. I was pointed in the right direction
by someone standing near the altar rails. Unfortunately, the
soprano who sang the solo for "Once in royal David's city"
had a false start and never really recovered.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We had a taxi booked for midnight, so we had to hurry out before
the final verse of the recessional hymn.
How would you describe the after-service
There wasn't any advertised.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 Ilkley is a long way for us to travel on a weekly basis,
but I shall try and make the trek for high feasts at least.
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
Absolutely. Throughout, I thought often of Psalm 141: "Let my
prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting
up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." It was very powerful.
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
I will remember singing "O come all ye faithful" with
the choir processing through the nave singing the descant. Mamma
Margaret shall remember the beautiful altar reredos, which we
got a good view of when we were given communion.
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