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|1851: St Mark's,
The Lord Mayor's Chapel, Bristol, England
St Mark's, The Lord Mayor's Chapel, Bristol, England.
Church of England.
St Mark's is well described on
this website. From the door entry, we come down the stairs
to the seats and pews, which are comfortable. There are also
old pews for the choir. There are historic battalion flags and
ancient carvings. The ceiling is flat and full of wonderful
gold attachments. It has very ancient beautiful coloured glass
windows, from varying European countries. There are two small
chapels, one light with very old windows and one dark with two
stone bodies. There is a new modern painting above the altar,
with Jesus on the crucifix surrounded by shining gold. Lovely
Christmas decorations were red and white flowers, and there
were six candles beside the altar and six high up candles on
the edge of each pew – at least 200 candles altogether!
This is the only municipally-owned church in the country and
is the official place of worship of the Lord Mayor and Corporation
of Bristol. It is open to the public from Wednesday through
Sunday and attracts worshippers from a wide area.
It is just opposite the Bristol Council building, with grass
across the road. Also in view is the Bristol Cathedral. Bristol
University is up the hill from St Mark's.
The Revd Prebendary Harold Clarke, chaplain to the Lord Mayor.
Prebendary Clarke wore a traditional white hooded alb, girdle,
and a white stole with gold embroidery at the ends.
The date & time:
Friday, 25 December 2009, 11.00am.
What was the name of the service?
Festal Eucharist for Christmas Day.
How full was the building?
Mostly full, about 50 people, including one baby. The Lord Mayor
was apparently worshipping elsewhere that day.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The verger welcomed me with a smile. As I had arrived early,
he took me round the building to show me its beauty and history.
Another person who was handing out booklets also smiled and
welcomed me, as did the young woman I sat next to.
Was your pew comfortable?
It was a comfortable, old, traditional pew, divided into individual
How would you describe the pre-service
It was generally quiet as people arrived and sat down. Everyone
seemed to be enjoying the beauty of the building. Some people
arrived late, but they were quiet too.
What were the exact opening words of the
Prebendary Clarke stood behind the altar to light the Christmas
candle as he said: "With confidence of faith we light this
candle of completion." The candle was then carried in procession
as we sang "O come all ye faithful," the verger leading
the procession. Two men walked with the prebendary, one in a
white alb and the other in red and black (as were the choir).
What books did the congregation use during the
A specially prepared booklet.
What musical instruments
Organ. There was a choir of eight singers, excellent singers,
dressed in red robes with black hoods. Three gold ducks, the
symbol of the church, were embroidered on the robes.
Did anything distract
The gold ceiling, the beautiful ancient windows, and the flowers
round the candles – I kept looking at them.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
A blend of the traditional and the modern. I believe the service
followed Common Worship. We all sang four traditional
carols. The choir sang the Kyrie, the Lord's Prayer and the
Agnus Dei, plus Psalm 98 and a motet entitled "Cradle Song."
We shook hands at the exchange of peace – no walking about,
no hugs or kisses. Prebendary Clarke invited us to communion
with the words, "Welcome to the rail for bread and wine
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 Prebendary Clarke spoke clearly and it was very easy to hear
exactly what he was saying.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
He told a story about a clergyman who had renovated an old church
building just in time for Christmas. But before he could hold
his Christmas service, a storm arose and flooding damaged the
walls and the communion table. What to do? He found a shop that
was still open and bought a second-hand tablecloth to use on
the communion table. The cloth was old but lovely – embroidered
with a gold cross, green stitching, and the letters "BCL."
On the way back to church he met an old woman who had missed
her bus and had no way to get home. He brought her into the
church and saw to it that she was warm and safe. As the clergyman
unfolded the tablecloth, the old woman recognised the letters
"BCL" as her initials – the tablecloth had been
hers! She had taken it with her as she fled from Germany just
as World War II broke out. Later the clergyman saw the woman
safely home. The next day, a gentleman in the congregation recognised
the tablecloth as one that had belonged to his wife. They had
become separated as they fled Germany and never saw each other
again. And so the clergyman took the gentleman to the old woman's
apartment, where a happy reunion ensued. The clergyman, Prebendary
Clarke said, is an example of someone following God. Thanks
be to God.
Which part of the service was like being in
Wonderful singing, seeing gold shining behind the crucifixion
scene, seeing the gold above us and the beautiful flowers all
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I saw someone in the congregation who was drawing! Why not paying attention to the service?
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
As I hung around, I was greeted again, smiled at, and shown
the ancient little stairs near the door.
How would you describe the after-service
Nothing at all I do not know if they ever have any.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 I would definitely experiment in traditional Anglican
worship again. I see they have a "Said Matins" coming
up – I have never before attended that.
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes I appreciated being given love and care and also
that we should do that, as exampled by God.
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
The prebendary's white robe and the beauty of the building.
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