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126: Edington Priory, Wiltshire, England
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Edington Priory
Mystery Worshipper: Leo.
The church: Edington Priory, East of Westbury, Wiltshire.
Denomination: Church of England.
Comment: We have received a comment on this report.
The building: A large 14th Century priory church.
The neighbourhood: The church is on the edge of Salisbury Plan. Edington is the winner of the best kept medium-sized village in West Wiltshire award.
The cast: The preacher was Rev. George Bush. I do not know the name of the celebrant, who was drawn from a number of clergy present at the Edington Festival.
What was the name of the service?
Solemn Eucharist.

How full was the building?
Absolutely packed, with extra chairs to accommodate 300 or more people.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A man promised to save my seat while I nipped out for a cup of coffee.

Was your pew comfortable?
Moderately – I sat in a chair behind a pillar.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
This was the first major service of the Edington Festival, an annual celebration of music within the context of the liturgy for which it was written. Consequently the atmosphere was one of quiet anticipation and a few friends, who meet annually for this occasion, greeting each other.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of God, father, Son and Holy Spirit."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
New English Hymnal, Edington Festival Companion, Alternative Service Holy Communion Rite A booklet.

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
Not really. There was a baby in a pram behind me who had every right to join in, but this is not the sort of occasion where the congregation joins in much. I was half worried that the mother might be embarrassed if the baby cried during the long choral parts of the service. As it turned out, my worries were unfounded. The baby was as good as gold throughout.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Restrained high Anglican with music led by experts from cathedral and collegiate church choirs on a busman's holiday.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
Nine minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
As it was the last Edington Festival before the Millennium, the theme for the week was Advent. In medieval times, an ecclesiastical dignitary, chanting an antiphon before Christmas, had to stand a large round of drinks, thereby anticipating Christmas merriment. It is in the nature of Christian hope that we find fulfillment in the anticipation of God's coming reign.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music of Guerrero and Byrd.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Nothing. Edington provides beautiful music and ceremonial in a homely, friendly and delightful setting.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Someone remarked that Wagon Wheels were on sale at the coffee stall and that they hadn't had those since they were a child.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It was actually before the service, because several people had travelled a long way to be there. It was reasonably good instant coffee in a plastic cup.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9, if it was like this all the time. For the 51 weeks of the year when it is not the festival period it is probably a normal Church of England village church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes because it is possible to have all the beauty of holiness without singing lots of doggerel (with apologies to those who like that style of worship!).

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The homely atmsophere resulting from it being an act of worship rather than a concert.
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