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  1026: St James Garlickhythe, Garlick Hill, London

St James Garlickhythe, London

Mystery Worshipper: St Jerome.
The church: St James Garlickhythe, London
Denomination: Church of England
The building: This is a 17th century Wren church built in 1683. The windows are plain, although the chandelier is very ornate, and was donated by the Glass Sellers Company. The way the light flooded into the building during the service was amazing. The Bernhard Schmidt organ, which was installed in 1718 is certainly magnificent and has trumpeting cherubs, the scallop shell of St James, a crown and two mitres. Over the altar, the ten commandments are displayed, and the choir stalls near the altar were taken up in this service by the vergers and the beadle.
The church community: St James is the home of 11 livery companies and also the Prayer Book Society. The church is also on the English pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella, and even has a stamp for pilgrims passing through London. They have Sunday services (which is quite rare for City churches) and Wednesday lunchtime holy communion. The church is also open during most days for private prayer.
The neighbourhood: Next to no people actually live in the city so the congregation come from mostly outside the parish.The church is a short walk from Mansion House tube station and nearby is St Paul’s Cathedral and the Guildhall.
The cast: The rector, Rev. Dr Alan Griffin, was the celebrant and preacher.

What was the name of the service?
Sung Eucharist and Holy Baptism

How full was the building?
About forty people were there in a church that could seat perhaps 100.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
The bell ringer and the person handing out hymn books said good morning.The couple in my pew also said hello during the offering.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, very comfortable. There was a kind of dip in the middle of the pews, which certainly aided comfort. The kneelers were quite tall compared to most, but were at least firmer than a lot I’ve come across.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Some talking but generally quiet. The baptismal party was quiet, as baptismal parties go. In fact the service was a baptism of an infant and an adult (both by sprinkling rather than immersion).

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Is this child baptised or no?"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, Common Praise and a seperate baptismal service sheet.

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
The embossed lion on the pews amused me slightly, since it had a quite comical expression. The lion is presumably something to do with one of the livery companies.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Middle of the road, and suitably reverential. Bells (but no smells) and 17th century vestments, which included a hood on the cassock. Almost all the congregation wore their Sunday best, with me being the exception! Some of the litugy was sung. All of the service was in English, with the exception of the kyries, which were sung by the choir. There was a procession both at the beginning and end of the service.

St James Garlickhythe, London

Exactly how long was the sermon?
10 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was about names, and was relavant to the baptisms which had taken place earlier. The preacher spoke about some people not being happy with their name, while others are happy with theirs.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sung kyries were the best I've ever heard. Absolutely heavenly! St James has a rotating choir system, and the choir I heard sings once a month. Almost comparable to the choir was the way the light flooded into the church during the latter part of the service

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Me being quite underdressed.

If intercessory prayers were said, what issues were raised?
The new Pope was prayed for as well as the sick.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
After reading the newsletter, I was introduced to the beadle and various other people. Everyone was very welcoming, as was the rector. The church has a large table full of various magazines, newsletters and leaflets from a wide range of Christian organisations.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Wine in a plastic cup. There was tea, coffee and squash available too.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – If I was looking for a new church and lived nearer, I would certainly consider this one.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Absolutely. This church sums up whats great about the Church of England. When it doesn’t try too hard to be modern, it does a very good job!

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The beadle, who wore full 17th century dress!
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