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277: St Peter, Treverbyn, Cornwall England
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St Peter, Treverbyn, Cornwall England
Mystery Worshipper: Vox Angelica.
The church: St Peter the Apostle, Treverbyn, Cornwall England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Built in 1848-50 by G.E. Street, this is the second church he designed in his own name, consisting of nave, chancel and sanctuary. The Henry Willis organ was recently installed here from St James Quegeley, Gloucestershire.
The neighbourhood: The Parish of St Peter is in a poor, working-class area of Cornwall, with the church set amongst clay spoil tips similar to the Alps (but not as pretty!).
The cast: Fr. Michael Cartwright was the celebrant; Fr. Alfred Scott (retired) was the gospeller and preacher.
What was the name of the service?
Parish Mass and Baptism.

How full was the building?
About one-third full (around 60 people), including the two baptism parties. I tactfully asked the lady next to me how many people usually attend mass, and she said around 20 to 30. Most of the congregation were over 50.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, a firm and friendly welcome. I was probably mistaken for a member of one of the baptism parties. This was ideal for an undercover operation, otherwise I think I would have stuck out like a charismatic.

Was your pew comfortable?
The standard bench-type with back rail, not secured to the floor. A moment's lapse during the intercessions could send them hurtling forward like a pack of cards.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
"Gossipy", with lots of conversations going on, although this is to be expected at baptismal services. I sat trying to collect my thoughts and listen to the organ, but the chatter was too intriguing, so I listened to that instead.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good Morning and welcome to Parish Mass at St Peters. We will start as usual with the Angelus to be found on the inner cover of the Mass Book."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Mass Book (ASB Rite A) with Angelus, Baptism Cards, plus "Hymns Old and New". I have come across this hymn book in most of the churches round here – there must have been a travelling hymn book salesman passing through at one time. It should be renamed "Hymns Old and Dreadful".

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
The baptism people chatting all through mass and a child sniggering along with his parents during the intercessions.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Definitively reserved stiff-upper-lip Anglo-Catholic. Eastward facing Sarum ceremonial, with smells and bells.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
15 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Excellent. Fr. Alfred pitched the tone and content correctly for his "audience". The sermon was delivered with conviction and was given unprepared and with no notes, due to Fr. Michael losing his voice due to a cold. He gained the whole congregation's attention by referring to his army years, some 61 years ago to the day!

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Prayer and its importance in daily Christian life, and the need to set aside time daily for contemplation.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
All of it really, although I must admit to being a traditional anglo-catholic. The organist was talented and filled in the gaps with anglo-catholic waffle where required. There was lots of nodding and genuflecting.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The continual chatter and sniggering of the unchurched.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I hung around looking daft while the baptism crowd left, chatted casually to several elderly ladies, and then left myself.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No after service coffee here, and I was gasping.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9. Yes, I would be glad to attend mass here. The people were friendly and welcoming and the ritual is "rite" up my street. It would be nice to meet over coffee, though.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes very much so. But sometimes I am saddened to reflect on the good old C of E. Ten years ago the self-destruct button was pressed, and in 10 years time many congregations, traditionalist and "new" evangelical, will die out. The baptism people won't be seen again until they need the church. Will the church (building) be there when they need it ? I hope so.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The homily given by Fr. Alfred.
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