15 December 2013

In the company of the Angelic Host and the
Communion of Saints on Gaudete Sunday

Early morning stillness in Christ Church Cathedral this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

Early morning, as the sun is still rising, can cast different lights and shadows around an ancient building.

I was in Christ Church Cathedral as dawn was breaking for an early morning Eucharist in Lady Chapel on the Third Sunday of Advent (15 December 2013).

Walking around the cathedral before the doors opened, there was a calm stillness and a quiet peacefulness that were tangible in this centuries-old place of prayer.

Nobody was moving, nobody was reading aloud from guidebooks, nobody was looking for monuments or stained-glass windows, nobody was rehearsing a hymn or anthem. The organ was silent. The aisles and side chapels echoed only the prayers of centuries.

Nobody turned up for the early morning Eucharist and the Lady Chapel remained silent. I was prepared, and I had a short reflection prepared on the Gospel reading. But I was in communion with the whole heavenly host and the communion of saints.

After coffee with the vergers in the kitchen in the Chapter House, I went for a stroll through the city centre. It was now after 9 a.m., but it was a dark and quiet Sunday morning in winter, and there was a feeling that this was a much earlier morning.

A quiet Sunday morning in Trinity College Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

I headed east down Lord Edward Street, and along Dame Street. A man with a power house was busy cleaning the plaza in front of the Central Bank after the pre-Christmas Saturday night revelries.

From College Green, I strolled into the Front Square in Trinity College, where small clusters of tourists looked lost and bewildered for the Library and the exhibition of the Book of Kells do not open until 12 noon on Sundays at this time of the year.

A bright winter morning sky over the Bedford Tower in Dublin Castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

In Dublin Castle, the Chapel Royal was still closed and in the Upper Castle Yard people in twos or threes were setting out their stalls for a Christmas Market ... but no customers had arrived.

Back in Lord Edward Street, I had a light breakfast in a small, quiet café, catching up on some sections of The Irish Times I had missed yesterday.

Back in the cathedral, the seats that had been empty earlier in the morning were filling quickly.

I was deacon at the 11 a.m. Eucharist, lighting the pink candle on the Advent Wreath for Gaudete Sunday, reading the Gospel (Matthew 11: 2-11), and assisting at the administration of Holy Communion.

The celebrant was the former Precentor and former Principal of the Church of Ireland Theological College, Canon John Bartlett, and the preacher was Canon Kenneth Kearon of the Anglican Communion Office. The setting was William Walton’s Missa Brevis.

I missed the Festival of Five Lessons and Carols in the cathedral this afternoon. But, with only ten days to go to Christmas, there will be more carols and more singing in the days to come.

Early morning in Trinity College Dublin ... ten days before Christmas (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

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