Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Flummery is fun.

The past four nights, I’ve gone to three special services with extra doses of ceremony and flummery.

First at Christ Church was the installation of two professors as canons of the cathedral. I was really going there for the choral evensong part of it. But there was a man in a funny wig and the reading of Letters Patent from Her Majesty, the Queen.

It also happened to Be a Chorister for a Day night. So the choristers-for-a-day gathered haphazardly in the aisle in the midst of the choir to help sing the opening introit. The informality was quite a contrast with the installation of canons later.

Oh, and after the service, all the vested clergy escorted the new canons around Tom Quad to their new lodgings.

The following night, the new head choristers were installed at Magdalen College with the President of the College reading the installations to the two kneeling choristers . . . in Latin.

Then last night at Christ Church was the Court Sermon (formerly known as the Assize Sermon). Lots of funny wigs and outfits in procession, as the local judges were there.

What was most surprising, however, was the Court Sermon itself. When I saw that a Rev. Dr. Michael Spence, Fellow of St. Catherine’s College and Head of the Social Sciences Division (uh oh) was giving it, I thought it might be one I quietly slip out of (especially since the choir’s duties were pretty much finished at that point).

But it was actually a good sermon from what I could hear. (I was sitting behind a column.) And he actually preached the gospel. Yes, you read that right. In fact, his whole sermon was a winsome gospel presentation. And (except for a quibble or two) he did it well.

And that impressed me more than all the flummery.

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