Friday, October 07, 2011

All Saints North Street, York

The touring part of my trip has ended, and I am happily in the haven where I would be, Oxford.

A highlight of my trip and certainly my favorite parish church so far is All Saints North Street in York. I visited it first chiefly to see the medieval interior, particularly its renowned stained glass.

And the medieval stained glass is outstanding. At York Minster and elsewhere, much medieval glass is quite a puzzle after enduring time and questionable, if not “indifferent” restorations. (One window in the Minster even contains a 20th c. confession of “indifferent” restoration in 1789.) But in All Saints, the old glass is in wonderful condition and easy to interpret.

The windows that stand out are the Prick of Conscience window, which portrays the last fifteen days of the world. Yes, medievals were into horrific end times, too. Nearby is the warm Acts of Corporal Mercy window. Another window portrays a miracle of Christ appearing in the Mass. At the bottom of it is the remains of an indulgence for those who gaze reverently at the window. Yes, such a window surviving the ravages of the Reformation and Civil War is very rare indeed.

All Saints also has a long history of anchoresses and anchorites, even in the 20th century!

As I visited, I noticed they were having a special mass the following Sunday evening for their Dedication Day. So I decided to go to that.

When I arrived early for the Mass, their change ringers were joyfully busy pulling their church bells. Much of the small congregation was already there.

This is very much an Anglo-Catholic parish. The rector wore an actual biretta when he processed then began with Asperges. Later, the Canon was silent – the first time I have seen that in an Anglican setting. Although I read the Canon in my mass booklet because I wanted to know what the priest was praying, I actually did like the silence during the Canon. It added an appropriate reverence and sense of holiness after the Consecration. The service ended with a Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, complete with a procession around the interior of the church!

I very much enjoyed the service, and it certainly enabled me to worship personally. But that was not all. The rector invited me to join others in the congregation to proceed to a nearby pub afterwards. This is a godly parish indeed! Thus concluded an excellent evening this past Sunday.

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