Last Sunday didn't include our usual Sunday routine. It was the only opportunity we had to hear the publication of the Banns of Marriage of our daughter and her fiancé, so we caught an early train to travel to the parish where they live. We got there in time to meet them for the 'Parish Mass'.
It was our first visit to that church. I thought I knew what to expect - organ, choir, vestments, lots of candles and incense. Having checked the website I even knew what the hymns and other music would be and the names of who would be doing what in the service.
What we had not expected was a (planned) fire drill during the service. This was a first for me - and also it would seem for the regulars. How did I get to be so old and never once had to evacuate a church during a Holy Communion service? It was carefully timed with respect to the liturgy, after the 'Intercessions' and before 'The Peace'. We were warned at the start of the service. There being no fire alarm, when the moment came the priest announced 'Fire' somewhat unconvincingly and we filed out, mostly in too leisurely fashion. The assembly point turned out to be at a fair distance, including crossing a road. It seemed far enough away to allow for the crashing down of the church spire. (I checked - I'm like that - I used to work in a high building.) We were counted and debriefed before returning to church for the rest of the service. Seeing the large number of candles and generous quantities of incense used, I can well understand why the church "had been advised" to hold a fire drill during a service. And this was Lent. What do they do for the big festivals I wonder?
By the time the Eucharistic prayer began my husband was anxiously watching the time. He didn't want to leave before the banns reading at the end of the service, but he had to get to the Royal Festival Hall in time for an early afternoon lecture. The service which had begun at 11 am eventually finished at 1 pm. My husband made a hasty exit after the banns and before what was clearly going to be a string of notices followed by the recessional hymn. Anyway we both got to hear the banns (just) and no one objected - so mission accomplished.
We rounded off the afternoon with English afternoon tea in the Orangery at the back of the Fan Museum house. Altogether a very genteel and gentle Sunday afternoon. And it was sunny all day!