Corporate worship is a regular gracious reminder
that it’s not about you.
– Paul David Tripp
Every once in a while it is really enlightening to vary your spiritual practices. Stretching your usual habits to add new experiences lets in new light. This can give you insights to perspectives which familiarity and comfort have perhaps screened from your realization. That was my experience when we attended evensong at St. Martin in the Fields church in Trafalgar Square near the end of our latest London visit.
Evensong at five o’clock on Sunday afternoon is not a service which my husband and I know. I doubt it is used much in the US. There was plenty of music — singing of hymns for all and chanting of psalms by the choir. The rector read two passages of scripture (Old Testament and Epistle) but no Gospel (which is the centerpiece of Sunday morning worship). There were unison prayers and parish notices. It seemed to me to be a perfect service for people who want a little church, plenty of good music, and not too much heavy thinking.
I went to the service expecting excellent music; only later did I realize that the recordings I hear on classical radio are recorded at the Academy of St. Martin of the Fields. The chamber orchestra first performed at their “namesake church” which we were sitting in, but is not part of the church. (Still, I am proof that the name association provides some credit to the church.)
We arrived early enough to hear the choir practicing. The choir director was already in his close-fitting red robe. The singers were in comfortable weekend attire, polo shirts and tank tops, looking like everyday folks. A few minutes before the service they left their seats and went to robe up. At the start of the service they processed in, transformed from casual to angelic in red robes with amazing collars. In both costumes they sounded very good. (My video below does not do justice to their sound.) The hard surface church furnishings helped to optimize the acoustics.
The main east window of the church behind the choir let in lots of light through its almost colorless panes. This is a replacement for the window which was destroyed by a bomb blast in World War II. It is a striking contrast to the design and age of the rest of the church. What do you see in the design? I see a crucified Christ. My husband, the physicist, saw an egg in a wind tunnel. Modern art can be great that way! You can read more about the design and see more pictures here.
The entire experience was borne aloft by a wonderful organ, played beautifully. Altogether it was an uplifting experience, different in many ways from our usual venue, making notable impressions with its surprises.
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.
8 September 2016