My absence over the past few days from The Anglo-Catholic has certainly been noticed! I was at the wedding of my niece up in Yorkshire. The ‘non-conformist’ Christians seem to be less fussy about getting married in Advent and Lent than we are! My sister, brother-in-law and their children are Baptists, and the wedding took place in Baildon Methodist church near Bradford. My sister asked me to play the organ, and I was happy to find a good digital organ with two manuals and pedals, with a good speaker system and very pipe-like sound.
My wife and I had to travel on Palm Sunday, the first time since my ordination that it has been impossible to celebrate or even attend Mass, as we rushed to catch our ferry back to France from Dover. Checking our e-mail at a motorway service station, we discovered to our dismay that the boat was delayed for four hours because of a technical problem. We decided to negotiate the notoriously difficult M25, the London orbital motorway, and stop off at Canterbury. We took full advantage of the delayed Channel crossing.
We were late for Evensong (Canterbury has it at 3.15 pm, and it is at 4 pm in York), but arrived at the Anthem, which was a gloriously rendered Allegri’s Miserere. We sang the hymn O Sacred Head Sore Wounded to the Bach Passion Chorale tune and the Dean gave the Blessing. Following the choir for the outgoing procession, three women canons looked incongruous, as did the tall and gaunt – and slightly ‘camp’ looking – Precentor. At least it was a vestige of my Sunday duty rendered impossible by travelling. The usher gave us palm crosses as the organist played Bach’s chorale prelude on O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde groß. At least I would have something to attach to the altar cross of my chapel once we got home – 5 am on Monday morning, having spent several hours driving through heavy rain, thick fog and wind after getting off the boat at Boulogne.
After Evensong, we visited the spot where Saint Thomas was martyred, where there is a hideous modern art depiction of a cross and two swords. Below it is a cubic-shaped stone altar. However, this was the spot where the meddlesome priest, our favourite English Saint, gave his life for the independence of the Church from the King. We also visited the crypt where there are many altars, and I hear that it is not difficult to obtain permission to say Mass. I didn't ask, as it was afternoon and I did not have my own missal. I noted that Canterbury still uses Sarum-style Lenten Array, but the statues and altar crosses are not veiled.
Here are a few photos of the Cathedral gate and the Cathedral itself (the central tower, choir screen, place of St Thomas' martyrdom and the main crypt chapel).
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