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535: St Mary's, Caernarfon, Wales
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St Mary's Caernarfon
Mystery Worshipper: Benny Diction.
The church: St Mary's Caernarfon, Wales.
Denomination: Church of Wales.
The building: An historic church built in 1307 as part of the town walls defending Caernarfon. The church is only a few yards away from Caernarfon castle.
The church: One of the few (if not only) English speaking churches in Caernarfon, where Welsh is the first language for the majority.
The neighbourhood: The church is situated on the edge of the town virtually on the harbour.
The cast: There was no printed order of service and I did not hear the cast announced.
What was the name of the service?
Easter Sunday sung eucharist from the Book of Common Prayer.

How full was the building?
About half full – maybe 100 people in all.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were warmly welcomed and given hymn books, service books and a leaflet about the history of the church. We were then shown to our pews. Our group included a nine year old, a four year old and a six month old baby. We were offered the use of the vestry if the babe needed feeding and the vicar gave us a lovely illustrated copy of the liturgy for the older children.

Was your pew comfortable?
As pews go, these were verging on the comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Unlike the welcome, the pre-service atmosphere was subdued. This seemed out of place for an Easter Sunday service.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
The vicar mumbled some words at the back of the church and then said more loudly, "Hymn 267. Christ the Lord is risen today."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Book of Common Prayer and a hymn book.

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
I'm not familiar with the Anglican liturgy and was constantly fumbling through the service book trying to find my place.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
High church, minus the smells.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
3 – It was just as well it was only seven minutes as he managed to lose most of us. He seemed on the verge of breaking into hellfire and damnation but, remembering that this was an Anglican service, he managed to restrain himself.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
In keeping with the day, he emphasized the resurrection. If anyone was in doubt they should cling onto this one fact alone: "Christ is risen from the dead."

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The opening hymn, "Christ the Lord is risen today", was sung with gusto. The sharing of the peace seemed very genuine. There was a great sense of love and the vicar made an effort to speak to everyone.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
It's got to be the introit in Latin sung by the choir of two at the back of the church.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Several people came over to us and, in both English and Welsh, wished us well.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
None. In fairness, the church did not appear to have much in the way of facilities – even the outside toilets had been vandalized.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
3 – I'd make an effort to learn Welsh in order to find a more lively style of worship.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
In parts. There was a sense of love and peace. But an hour and a half service with children is enough to make you become an agnostic.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The lovely welcome.
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