Thursday, December 01, 2005

Day 9: St. Andrews Day in Oxford

posted the following day

I’ve had an excellent St. Andrews Day here in Oxford. In the morning, I visited the Cathedral and College of Christ Church, and it was well worth the price of admission.

The dining Hall is huge and lined with portraits. You can easily see how it inspired the dining hall in the Harry Potter films (parts of which were filmed at Christ Church).

In the Cathedral, a gentleman offered a tour, and I took him up on it. He pointed out details I would have missed, such as the anachronistic flush toilet in one stained glass window. And he was impressed that I knew more of Anglicanism and English history than the average tourist.

I could say more and would advise Christ Church as a priority stop for anyone visiting Oxford.

In the evening, I went to Magdalen again for Sung Eucharist. Yes, they broke out the incense, which seemed to be blowing in my direction at one point.

It was an impressive service in a number of ways. The highlight for me was the choir singing the Sanctus. A chorister started it as a solo, then the rest of the choir joined in and it slowly built to a crescendo. I don’t think I’ve ever so fervently worshiped during a Sanctus before.

And it was fun earlier exchanging the peace with a cheerful chorister.

But what most impressed me about the service was that it was full and unrushed, at a worshipful pace, yet only took about 45 minutes. And I’ve mentioned that their also meditatively paced Evening Prayer service the other night took only 30 minutes. I don’t know how they do it. But with students’ rushed schedules, that’s very smart to have services that are unrushed, yet brief.

Then I had dinner and a pint at The Eagle and the Child and saw where C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, and friends held forth.

Then I walked over to a violin concerto at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. They played Beethoven’s only complete violin concerto. Both it and its history are very interesting and somewhat complex. There’s a teenager at my church who is something of a violin prodigy. I’ll have to tell him about it when I get back.

Have I mentioned this is quite a musical place? Often I hear rehearsals when I walk through a college or into a church.

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