Christ Church, Waterloo, Liverpool (Exterior)

Christ Church, Waterloo, Liverpool, England

Denomination

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Mystery Worshipper: Woody
Church: Christ Church
Location: Waterloo, Liverpool, England
Date of visit: Sunday, 18 October 2015, 6:30pm

The building

This is "New" Christ Church, "Old" Christ Church having been declared redundant in 1982 although the building still stands. "New" Christ Church actually dates from 1910 (it was the parish hall of the old church) and is respectably "churchy" looking, with its red brick and pink sandstone exterior peeping through a very foggy autumn evening in Waterloo. The interior resembles a Nissen Hut – arched and rather plain, with plaster detailing on the ribs, oak leaves and acorns. Stained glass panels depicting scenes from the life of Christ have been surmounted on the original plain windows. A painted wooden reredos, brought over from the old building, depicts the Nativity with shepherds and the Magi. The church feels well used and is obviously cared for.

The church

The parish magazine consists mostly of trivia downloaded from the web, but I was able to discover that they sponsor a Monday Club, Brownies, and a flower rota.

The neighborhood

Waterloo is on the link road and railway between Liverpool and Southport, which actually lies to the north. The busy River Mersey flows alongside. In 1815 the area was known as Crosby Seabank and was becoming a popular holiday spot - so popular that a hotel had to be built, the Royal Waterloo, named after Wellington's victory over Napoleon. The town gradually took on the name of the hotel. There is a small public garden close to Christ Church.

The cast

The Revd Gregor Cuff, vicar.

What was the name of the service?

Evening Prayer with Cantata, with Blessing and Dedication of the New VĂ¡gi Continuo Organ.

How full was the building?

Full. Only one or two empty seats at the front.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

No. I helped myself to an order of service. There didn't seem to be anybody on sidesman's duty. I myself handed out service sheets to a few people coming in.

Was your pew comfortable?

The red padded chair was comfortable. There was a compartment for books.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

The choir were rounding off a bit of practice. People were keenly looking forward to the service. Expectant atmosphere. The organist began with a chorale prelude by the Dutch organist and composer Dick Koomans on JS Bach's Werde Munter mein Gemute.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Good evening and a very warm welcome to you."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Printed service booklet.

What musical instruments were played?

Organ. The service included the dedication of the church's new continuo organ, a tiny three-stop instrument by Gyula Vági Master Organ Builders of Budapest. The Liverpool Bach Collective, a group consisting of twelve musicians on violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, oboe, cor anglais and bassoon, and eight singers, was also featured. The vicar also played cello.

Did anything distract you?

I was definitely concentrating on the music. It was too good to miss. So intently were we listening – I allowed nothing to distract me!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Middle of the road, easy on the ear and eye. Hymns, psalms, readings and Magnificat loosely followed the order for evening prayer. The high point was JS Bach's cantata Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal, BWV 146.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

No sermon.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

Listening to the countertenor with violin obbligato. This gentleman's singing was superb and heavenly.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

No applause, please, we're in church! I had to sit on my hands to prevent me from doing so!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

Everyone seemed to be talking at once and admiring the new organ. The vicar said, "Feel free if you'd like to have a go on it." A little lad took him up on it. A trolley was brought in to transport the Vági organ back into safe storage. "Fifty pence a ride!" quipped the manhandler of the trolley.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

There were no refreshments. I wandered out into the night onto the quiet streets of Waterloo where I got hopelessly lost! The old Christ Church loomed dark and foreboding. I passed villas with fanlights over the front door, solid Victorian houses with long paths up to their doorways and curtains drawn against the evening chill. Passing the Lion and Unicorn public house, I called in for some liquid refreshment. The place was deserted. I could smell the salty tang of the River Mersey as I found my way back to the railway station and home.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

8 – I'd certainly be willing to give it a go.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Yes.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

The countertenor singing like a lark! It had been an evening to remember.

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