|563: St Peters, Sheringham, Norfolk, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Hermione.
The church: St Peter's, Sheringham, Norfolk, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: It was wider than I expected from the outside, probably because the roof was so steep. Inside was very light, the east window being out of stained glass. The nave windows were plain apart from having pictures of the patron saints of Great Britain (I spotted Andrew and David at least I didn't recognise the other one) on the south side, and the evangelists' symbols on the north.
The church: They have a service of Holy Communion on the evening of the first Sunday of the month alternatively with the Methodists. The church is also raising money for new toilet facilities.
The neighbourhood: A Norfolk seaside town.
The cast: I assume the priest was the Rev. Tony Windross, the vicar; we also had a reader and a server.
What was the name of the service?
8.00am Holy Communion (Order 2).
How full was the building?
There were about 30 people there scattered about the nave, which I thought a good number for that time of the morning.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, I arrived at the same time as someone else who said "Good morning,"' and I was greeted by the person handing out books and notices.
Was your pew comfortable?
Not pews but wooden chairs attached together by wood. Most rows had nine chairs in them, which were attached to a bar on the floor with hinges. They were reasonably comfortable though.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Reasonably quiet, though a certain amount of bustle.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Our Father which art in heaven". Said from the bottom of the chancel steps by the priest facing the congregation with the server and reader flanking him facing east.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Common Worship first time I've seen a congregation given the whole book. There was no announcement of page numbers though and I didn't see anything that said it was Order 2, although someone had put a bookmark where it started in the book.
What musical instruments were played?
None, as it was a said service.
Did anything distract you?
Trying to count how many people there were as they came back from communion as I'd sat too far forward to be able to see during the service. Also I'm not at all familiar with Order 2 so I tended to be analysing the liturgy and what I thought of it rather than participating in it.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
High. Crossing at appropriate points, bowing during the creed, elevations in the Eucharistic prayer.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
There was none.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Nothing stands out, but it was a peaceful communion service in the midst of a chaotic weekend. I'd spent parts of the previous day being irritable and confessing that before receiving communion was important.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Probably the process of going up for (and returning from) communion. To start with, having been kneeling since the end of the creed my legs complained when I stood up, then because I was the first person on my side, I joined those on the other side and went up and having received went back down the middle of the chancel. At which point I realised that there was a queue for each side and after I sat back down I realised that everyone else was peeling off and coming through the vestry or Lady Chapel, as those who'd taken the offertory up had done. Which was a bit embarrassing, though no one stared at me and made me feel I'd done it wrong.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
One of the congregation greeted me and commented on my scarf and we had a quick chat. The reader was shaking hands on the way out, while the priest had already said a collective good morning and apologized for not being able to greet people afterwards as he had to get to another service.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none that I could see.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 I don't think I'd want to use Order Two on a regular basis but it might be that they use Order One for their 10.00am service. But the height of the churchmanship was about right.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
I think so.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The opening, which was said with the priest facing us and the reader and server facing the other way.