and St Nicholas, Liverpool, England.
of England, Diocese
Affectionately known as St Nick's, the church has a history
going back to the 13th century. The original building was
extended piecemeal through the ages and was completely rebuilt
in 1775 (leaving the pews and galleries intact!). The tower
collapsed in 1810 and was rebuilt, and minor changes were
made here and there in ensuing years. But in 1940 incendiary
bombs destroyed the church except for the tower. The present
building was consecrated in 1952. It is of a very pleasing
mellow dressed sandstone. The tower houses a peal of 12 bells,
which sounded wonderful as I approached. Very English!
St Nick's has always had close links with the business side
of the city and particularly the maritime community, as St
Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors.
A centre of tourism, Liverpool is famous (as we know) as the
home of the Beatles, the frizzy-haired songwriter and comedian
Ken Dodd, the famous ferries and the docks, two cathedrals,
the Liver Buildings, the Mersey Tunnel (there are two tunnels
really), and a wealth of fine buildings from different architectural
The Revd John Williams, assistant priest, was the celebrant
The date & time:
Trinity Sunday, 19 June, 2011, 9.30am.
What was the name of
How full was the building?
Less than half full, approximately 100 in total.
Did anyone welcome you
I was welcomed inside the doorway by a man and woman who smiled
and said "Good morning" as they offered a service
leaflet to me. They realised I was a visitor so the lady found
me some information about the church. There were similar information
sheets in different languages laid out on a table in the narthex.
As I passed through the glass screens into the nave, my eyes
were drawn to the wooden baldacchino over the high altar.
It put me in mind of an elaborately curtained and canopied
antique bed. I found a seat near the front and was joined
shortly after by a young couple with a boy about seven years
old. They said hello and the boy went off to find his pals.
Was your pew comfortable?
The wooden chairs were comfortable and well spaced to allow
plenty of leg room.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Subdued chatter especially from the young folk. Yes, whole
families attended together! The youngsters went out for their
own classes and returned later. There was no organ prelude
but a good atmosphere built up on its own.
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
Service sheet printed in full for that Sunday.
What musical instruments
Three-manual pipe organ by the Harrison & Harrison firm
Did anything distract
Lots of little things: many carved ships (even one on the
processional cross), two icons on the pillars, a small wooden
figurine of a cheery St Nicholas holding a large case of toys
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
C of E with high church trappings, all fairly low-key. Bells
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
6 Father Williams began with a children's song, complete
with actions: "Our God is a great big God." He seemed to revel
in it all, even though he had a sore throat that day. He sounded
a bit rough.
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
Trying to get your head round the idea of the Trinity. God
is everlasting, beyond all imagining. The idea of the Trinity
is too complex for human understanding. Even though people
like to try to be in control of their understanding, we cannot
in the case of God. We should simply go and rejoice that God
is a great big God.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
Although everything was very nice, nothing struck me as being
particularly heavenly. Even the bells and smells were rather
subdued, though of course that is probably as it should be!
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
Their microphone technique needs improving. There's nothing
worse than not hearing properly.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
I wasn't given the chance to look lost. The family next to
me invited me for refreshments. First, however, I had a look
round the interior. The floral arrangements were pleasing.
The church is obviously well
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Tea, coffee, biscuits, served in the refectory above the narthex.
A number of people wanted to chat with me, which made me feel
welcome. I didn't get a chance to speak to the priest
I passed him on the stairs after coffee but he seemed too
preoccupied with the church wardens to stop for a little chat.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
7 I would go regularly just to listen to the bells!
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
As I approached the church that morning, I was greeted by
the wonderful sound of the bells ringing across the waterfront.
A truly magnificent sound, unforgettable.