Monday, September 27, 2004

Kennington Revisited

Twenty years ago I sang for a couple of years with a church choir in S London. I loved that church so was my first experience of a world beyond the confines of my privileged childhood and the rarefied air of Cambridge, and I was totally overwhelmed and entranced by the way in which the mess and muddle of life on the Kennington/Brixton borders was taken and offered in the Eucharist, day by day, week by week, and made whole. I suspect that the faint but insistent whisper which finally brought me to ordination first began at this period too, and I know that S John the Divine, Kennington, has probably influenced me more than almost anything else on my journey (give or take Greenbelt and the Chronicles of Narnia...there's eclecticism for you!) Maybe one day I'll have a church like that of my very own....
Meanwhile, the SJDK choristers grew up, some married, some divorced, some left London, and as is the way of things, we rather drifted apart, though never losing touch altogether. Until yesterday...Yesterday, thanks to a friend whose organisational abilities deserve a wider theatre, we gathered from all corners at S Andrew's, Holborn, where the former vicar of SJDK now hangs out in his new persona as Archdeacon of Hackney. We ate, drank, talked and then sang. They don't do Choral Evensong at S Andrew's,- indeed its one of those city churches which doesn't do anything very much on a Sunday, as there's a distinct shortage of worshippers around,- but that didn't deter us. On one level it was probably slightly ludicrous, - a full choir singing the Office with a handful of non-singing family rattling around in that large and beautiful space. On another level it was totally and utterly right to be there, involved in that sort of total prayer which unites you with your neighbours and, as Lyle reminded us, with the whole company of heaven. I hope we sing together again before we finally join in their perfect worship, and I thank God for some very special people with whom it was so easy to pick up the pieces of suspended friendships. Oh...and the final Amen of the Smith responses has to be one of the most perfect sequences ever written :-)

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