Worshipping in Canterbury Cathedral #VicarSchool

A large part of Vicar School is about worshipping together. At Easter School this meant (for me at least) getting up at just after 6 each day and not having time for a morning run, which was a struggle! 

Canterbury Cathedral in the sunshine

We all trundled over to the Cathedral each day for worship at 7.30 in the crypt – which isn’t as chilling as it sounds! I’ve got to say there was something rather special about being one of the first few into the cathedral each morning, as we crossed the Cathedral precincts, having only been allowed in by flashing our passes (only to keep out the tourists not some awful security measure!) then on into the cloisters and entering the crypt by an almost hidden door. Walking in there at dawn, the crypt mostly lit just by candle light, entering in silence as we arrived to worship was very moving. Even for a modern charismatic like me, there is much to be said for worshipping in such a space where pilgrims, monks and Christians have entered and worshipped for centuries, it’s like the walls breathe out the joy and sorrow they have heard over the years from the countless prayers that have been uttered in there.

Throughout the week different groups of students led worship, in different styles. I was part of a group leading worship in the style of ‘Taize’, one morning. In advance, like much of the week, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this. I was well out of my comfort zone and Taize is largely about repeated singing of chants and phrases, however due to cathedral restrictions we were not allowed to have any music at that time of the morning, so no challenge there then! Anyway, I found that actually it felt a real privilege to lead worship in that space. We chose silence and quiet reponses instead of the music. People were able to leave pebbles as a sign of leaving their burdens by the cross. There were some pebbles left which we then left out during the day and when we returned in the evening we found that visitors to the cathedral had continued to use the pebbles, which was really encouraging. 

The Crypt with evening worship in Taize style

I have to say that I did struggle with some of the worship. I knew it would be in varying styles and I prayed each day that God would meet me in each act of worship and He did, which was amazing. I’ve said before and I will say again, that is the beauty of the Church of England, that we can all meet God in different ways and the church caters for many different people. However there is something to be said for worshipping in your own preferred style and by the end of the week I was just desperate to sing and worship with abandon!

It has made me think more about what worship is and how people meet with God in different ways. And about the space one is in, as we meet in a soulless assembly hall each week, I really noticed the difference being in a building that has been used for worship for hundreds of years. As I said above, it’s like you can feel the prayers and praises of those who have gone before just oozing out of the walls. An amazing place to worship…

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! 

Hebrews 12: 1-3 The Message Version

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    April 22, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you for reminding me of the several time that I attended worship with ordinand's at the Cathedral in the Crypt. I sometime also went to mid-morning communion in the Crypt, which is a special privilege.

    Another time I found a HC about to start of a group of Pilgrims in the Crypt, and they gladly allowed me to join them and be for a short 45 minute, a part of their journey and community. They were French and the liturgy was in French, but lovely all the same. Easy enough to follow if you have lived in Belguim and attended local Catholic Churches for Mass.

    The Cathedral provide scope for events that you wouldn't see in your local parish, and the blessing of Daily Evensong or Matins are but two.

    I need to go to Rochester Cathedral as I've been in, but not for worship – and after all, it's now my Cathedral.

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