SUNDAY: 11 am Mass at All Saints Margaret Street, London – my second visit to this famous Anglo-catholic church in the heart of downtown London. My first was in 1995, so my perspective (now, as a St. Mary Magian) is quite different. I found myself experiencing and observing the service in a very different way. Today we celebrated both Dedication and a 50th wedding anniversary. This might seem strange but the Priest gave a very compelling sermon drawing many parallels between marriage and the church – and the perfect hymn concluded the service…”from heav’n he came and sought her to be his only bride” …you know the one.
All Saints is short and tall, so the congregation is very close to the action in the ornate chancel. The choir is 4 sops, 2 altos, 2 tenors and 2 basses with the organ situated behind the choir. These 10 excellent singers held their own through Parry’s “I was glad” and the music director, Paul Brough, conducted this piece with great sensitivity and welcome elasticity. The choir sings pianissimo passages particularly beautifully . I should mention the other choral music was Mozart Mass in D.
The ceremony was executed with reverence and precision. There is no Asperges, but an Entrance hymn before the Introit, and a confession before the Kyrie, the Gloria sung by the choir. The Sursum Corda is sung facing the people, but the rest of the Eucharistic prayer facing east. There are many candles – 16 on the altar – and some extraordinarily tall ones. To my SMM ears the congregational chants are sung at break neck speed, I was scrambling to keep up – but we were finished at 12:30 on the nose!