Started Advent this year at Southwark Cathedral. It was noticable is several ways. Firstly at the beginning of the service one of the clergy gives the notices. On Sunday after the initial sentence – Welcome to Southwark Cathedral – the congregation burst into spontaneous applause. This was because the notices were being given by the Dean – Colin Slee – on his first Sunday back at work (since the beginning of September) following a major operation. Several minutes later he was able to continue.
The other notable item was the restoration of the administration of the chalice at communion. I have previously written about the comments made by the Dean about the sharing of the peace.
At the beginning of the service the first of the Advent Candles was lit. Southwark have five white candles. There are other views on the colour of the candle. Kelvin has blogged on his views on the appropriate colour of the candles to which there has been a lively discussion over the past three years.
In the evening we returned to Southwark for the “Friends of Southwark Cathedral” Tea prior to the Advent Procession. After tea, we went to our seats in the Cathedral. The servers and choir were being put through their paces. The Succentor – Anna Macham – was ensuring everything was in place. The service took place in candlelight, and took St John the Baptist as its theme. It started with an introit by the choir in the Retro Choir behind the High Altar. The Office Hymm, sung by the choir in procession with servers distributed through the choir carrying candles to illuminate the music. The music was:
- Introit for the Birth of St John the Baptist (Graduale Romanum)
- Office Hymn for the Feast of St John the Baptist – during which the choir processed to the west end
- This is the record of John (Gibbons)
- Hymn – Hark the glad sound!
- Hymn – The great forerunner of the morn – the choir processed to the Tower Space
- Benedictus (Standford in G)
- How lovely are the messengers (Mendelssohn)
- Hymn – Hark! a herald voice is calling – the choir processed to the Chancel
- The Spirit of the Lord (Elgar)
- Hymn – On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry – the choir processed to the Sacrarium before the High Altar
- Let all mortal flesh keep silence (Bairstow)
- Hymn – Lo! he comes with clouds desending – during the singing the choir, servers and clergy processed out
In general the cathedral lights remained off, with the pulpit light being switched on for the the readings. The congregation lit their candles during the Office Hymn. Once the choir reached the Tower Space (crossing between the transepts), the lighting was turned up in that area and as the choir proceeded east more lights were switched on. All in all very atmospheric.
Postscript – On Monday afternoon I found myself back at Southwark Cathedral and noted that the building had more chairs in place, and large monitors by each pillar in preparation of a Graduation Ceromonies for City University on Tuesday and Wednesday.