It is more than slightly embarrassing that I make so little effort to visit London’s iconic buildings, given how much sightseeing I do the moment I leave the city. Given that this is both London 2012 AND the Queen’s Jubilee year, I was determined to explore the extraordinary places on my doorstep with as much enthusiasm as I might Singapore’s Cathedral or Barcelona’s MACBA.
As part of my Mothering Sunday weekend plans, my mother and I went to Westminster Abbey for Morning Service. The Abbey is closed to tourists for sightseeing on Sundays, but open to all for worship. I chose Matins of the several services, as Holy Communion was too late for us. My mama and I also love the old liturgy of the Matins service, based on the Book of Common Prayer of 1549, which we both grew up with, and is couched in truly beautiful language. It’s also a full choral service.
The church was bare of decoration, as it was the Fourth Sunday of Lent, but the pomp and ceremony of the service is something extraordinary to behold. Although the service started at 10am, we were there early at 0930, as the gates were being opened, which meant we were first into the church, and were seated in the ancient choir stalls at the heart of the abbey (as opposed to the standard seating.) If you watched the Royal Wedding you’ll know how beautiful this part of the Abbey is.
It’s glorious being seated literally next to the choir – who, are of course, world-standard, and curiously intimate for such a large space. I highly recommend turning up early. And, even if like me, your attachment to the church is sentimental, or you are just curious, attending a service here is a life-affirming experience, and it’s worth it just for the music.
After the service, we exited through the cloisters, where memorials to the great and good are attached to the walls. Captain Cook is a distant relation on my maternal side.
I thought this Edmond Halley memorial was particularly wonderful.
This arched door below is where we exited the Abbey.
The service was as follows:
The Officiant says a Sentence of Scripture
The Second Lesson: St John 9: 1- 25
The Apostles’ Creed
The Lesser Litany, The Lord’s Prayer, and Responses