Ship of Fools: St Michael & All Angels, Exeter, England

imageShip of Fools: St Michael & All Angels, Exeter, England

Very high worship service, plenty of incense, but no spirit or joy

Read the full Mystery Worshipper report here


Comments

  • Copes as best I canCopes as best I can Shipmate Posts: 3
    edited January 9
    I am new to this forum and have only just found this article. I am very sorry to report that the curate at the time [name redacted], whom I had the great good fortune to know, passed away in a motoring accident some five years after this report. He was academically brilliant but more importantly a truly lovely and kind man; a shining person. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
  • Welcome aboard the Ship, @Copes as best I can! I’m sorry to hear of the curate’s death.

  • Copes as best I canCopes as best I can Shipmate Posts: 3
    Thank you, Nick, both for your welcome and your other kind words. Although I am stumbling along already I am also enjoying the Ship (and MW) enormously and looking forward to continuing to do so!
  • NenyaNenya Ecclesiantics & MW Host
    Welcome aboard @Copes as best I can and thank you for your contribution. Do feel free to introduce yourself on the Welcome Aboard thread. Looking forward to seeing you around!
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited January 10
    Yes indeed (and welcome to our new Host @Nenya, too!).

    As to the Report itself, I think it just goes to show how a person's view of a service might be coloured by their own preferences. An Easter Sunday High Mass in a full-on Anglo-Catholic church like this would be somewhat lacking if there weren't clouds of incense, and the ringing of bells (presumably at the Consecration).

    A choir (duly praised), and a half-full church, might well have resulted in the hearty singing of traditional Easter hymns, but probably without the *ahem* spontaneous gestures to which the Reporter may be accustomed!
    :wink:

    BTW, a half-full church (how many? 80? 100?) would not be a bad attendance if there had also been a well-attended Easter Vigil Mass the evening before (or much earlier that same morning).
  • As to the Report itself, I think it just goes to show how a person's view of a service might be coloured by their own preferences. An Easter Sunday High Mass in a full-on Anglo-Catholic church like this would be somewhat lacking if there weren't clouds of incense, and the ringing of bells (presumably at the Consecration).

    A choir (duly praised), and a half-full church, might well have resulted in the hearty singing of traditional Easter hymns, but probably without the *ahem* spontaneous gestures to which the Reporter may be accustomed!
    :wink:
    Surely the ringing of bells and clouds of incense on one hand and a sense of joy and wonder on the other hand are not mutually exclusive, though.

  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    As to the Report itself, I think it just goes to show how a person's view of a service might be coloured by their own preferences. An Easter Sunday High Mass in a full-on Anglo-Catholic church like this would be somewhat lacking if there weren't clouds of incense, and the ringing of bells (presumably at the Consecration).

    A choir (duly praised), and a half-full church, might well have resulted in the hearty singing of traditional Easter hymns, but probably without the *ahem* spontaneous gestures to which the Reporter may be accustomed!
    :wink:
    Surely the ringing of bells and clouds of incense on one hand and a sense of joy and wonder on the other hand are not mutually exclusive, though.

    Not at all. However, someone more accustomed to spontaneous informality in worship might interpret traditional catholic formality and restraint as a lack of joy. Reading between the lines I suspect that the MW was unfamiliar with that tradition.

    There are churches where everything is done 'by the book' but you can sense the joy and commitment of the congregation; there are others, apparently of the same tradition, where the liturgy is performed flawlessly but mechanically. And there are those where everything goes 'wrong' because people are enjoying the worship too much to worry about details, and there are those where they just don't care.
  • This.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics & MW Host
    Yes, indeed ... and I know that only two of those four options will hold me
  • Copes as best I canCopes as best I can Shipmate Posts: 3
    Thank you all for your kind welcomes!

    I haven’t worshipped at this church for more than a couple of decades now and it was not my home church but I would say, peering back through the sepia, that it was never a coldly formal place and the congregation couldn’t have been warmer or friendlier. It’s a fair, decent size too so, although I have only ever seen it packed to the rafters for a patronal festival, I would imagine that half full before the days of social distancing could easily be 100, if not more.

    Finally, the thurifer is a good and old friend of mine and, if I know him, incense will have been copious indeed!
  • angloid wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    As to the Report itself, I think it just goes to show how a person's view of a service might be coloured by their own preferences. An Easter Sunday High Mass in a full-on Anglo-Catholic church like this would be somewhat lacking if there weren't clouds of incense, and the ringing of bells (presumably at the Consecration).

    A choir (duly praised), and a half-full church, might well have resulted in the hearty singing of traditional Easter hymns, but probably without the *ahem* spontaneous gestures to which the Reporter may be accustomed!
    :wink:
    Surely the ringing of bells and clouds of incense on one hand and a sense of joy and wonder on the other hand are not mutually exclusive, though.

    Not at all. However, someone more accustomed to spontaneous informality in worship might interpret traditional catholic formality and restraint as a lack of joy. Reading between the lines I suspect that the MW was unfamiliar with that tradition.
    Perhaps I’m just unable to properly read between the lines here, as there was nothing in the report that made me suspect that the MW was unfamiliar with the Anglo-Catholic tradition or more accustomed to spontaneous informality in worship.

  • I admit that it was more the tone of the Report, rather than the words used, that made me think the MWer might be used to a different style of worship.

    Mind you, the term *high worship service* to describe what I guess the church would call Solemn or High Mass, is perhaps a Clue...
    :wink:

    The question of how much incense should be used is rather subjective, and has been discussed on these boards in the past, but I doubt if it was used other than in the Western tradition's customary places in the liturgy - again, this would doubtless seem excessive to one not used to Holy Smoke, especially if the church has a particularly enthusiastic thurifer!


Sign In or Register to comment.