Friday, July 28, 2006

Politely Celtic

Just back from the Welsh Border - we were on the Herefordshire side, but seemed to spend most of our time in Wales - I can't help reflecting on the Mass we attended in this ancient little church on Sunday afternoon. We had discovered when visiting earlier in the week that it was to be a "Celtic" Eucharist, and thought that it might be up our alley. The acoustics were wonderful for singing - these stone walls (very ancient - look at the angle on the left of the altar. It's propped up outside by a buttress)

Well, there were several John Bell songs and a lot of congregational responses, and yes, there was indeed the typical repetition of images associated with what is known in crueller circles than this as "the Celtic tweelight". But it was all incredibly polite. These burnished, gently mewing and on the whole English accents sounded far too .... smooth? Genteel? I don't know what I had expected, but this was strangely bland.

And another thing. See how God speaks to Elijah in "a still, small voice"? In this company he wouldn't have been heard. Not that they made a huge racket - not a bit of it. But they never stopped. The celebrant spoke smoothly and seemed never to come up for air; when he did, the deacon took over, and, for a bit of variety, the congregation rose and sat and intoned responses several times on every page.

A disappointing experience. Maybe I'm looking for something a bit closer to nature - passion and silence in equal measure. But I'm past the time when I thought it best to address God in tones of sweet reasonableness. And surely we need to listen?

1 comment:

  1. With my luck, this building would have collapsed the minute I entered it. How bizarre! See you some time this week...