But that's enough of the gruesome maunderings. It wasn't just the local faithful who turned out in number - there was a great group of clergy (including two familiar from Island Parish on the telly) and the bishop and friends and family and former flock, all crammed into a church that by the end of the evening was so hot that the woman in front of me sank to her knees not in a moment of extreme piety but to avoid passing out. Before the mass, we were given a quick run-through of the bits of the music that might be unfamiliar, though in truth only one hymn was known to me and I was reduced, in the absence of any music, to a feeble twittering.
But what chiefly interested me was the completely different atmosphere from what I'm accustomed to. (And no, I don't just mean the heat.) The extreme rapidity of proceedings - responses hardly out of your mouth before we were off again - the matter-of-fact tones used by all the clergy, bishop included, and the music which in its banality defied any attempt at aural learning. The women in front of me who chatted at intervals throughout the proceedings, regardless of what was happening. And the new liturgy, introduced, I believe, only last week, was extraordinarily like what we have in our 1970 Grey Book, but with confusing details that caught this unwary Piskie out. But why, in the name of all that's holy (and I mean that) do they talk about Jesus taking the "chalice" at the Last Supper? Would it be likely that the vessel used then, as opposed to what it held, would have been accorded reverence at that moment? I'd be interested to know the thinking there.
Above all, I felt the sense of ... confidence. This is a church that still behaves as if Christian faith is the norm, and church attendance even more so. It spills over into demeanour, voices, physical attitudes. It is very unlike what I know and love in my own precarious little church. And what
And I need the magic.