Easter Sunday 2018. London, England.
I attended the standing-room-only festive Choral Eucharist at Westminster Abbey this morning. Tourists were everywhere, but enough of us were taking matters seriously that I knew I was in a holy place.
On the way to communion, I walked right over David Livingston’s grave!
And the Dean himself, The Very Rev. Dr. John Hall, administered my communion this morning.
At noon, with the service ended, I found the sidewalks around the Abbey and Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge to be jammed with tourists on a very chilly early Spring day. So half-way back to my flat, I jumped on a bus for the final blocks.
Luncheon was a Sunday pub meal of pork roast, crackling, Yorkshire puddings, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, parsnips, and applesauce. And a Fuller’s London Pride. I couldn’t finish it all!
Oh — and kale. I didn’t even try.
Now for Evensong at St. Mary’s Bourne Street, with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The music list includes Harwood in A-flat, one of my favorite settings of the Mag & Nunc.
From the Borough Market in London, on a rainy Thursday:
I bout some Caerphilly cheese, vacuum-packed to bring home. This makes me happy.
And I spent an hour in Southwark Cathedral, just soaking up the silence.
And then I spent Maundy Thursday at St. Paul’s Cathedral, with a music list that included Duruflé, Michael Haydn, Stainer, Poulenc, and Frank Martin.
With the rain on Wednesday, I stayed in at my flat and did some school work and email management.
Just before 12 noon, I bought an Oyster card at the Lambeth North stop and walked half a block to catch a red double-decker bus, and then rode across Westminster Bridge to Westminster Abbey.
The bell tower (‘Big Ben’) at the Houses of Parliament is completely shrouded in scaffolding, so I’ll have no iconic photos this trip.
At 12.30 p.m. sharp, the bell rang inside the Abbey and a priest walked toward the altar in front of the grave of Sir Isaac Newton. And 100 or so pilgrims celebrated noonday Eucharist together in this most special house of worship. No matter that tourists were milling around on three sides, or that the din of their chatter never allowed for holy silence. God is in this place.
N.B. — in this country, when asked where you are from, kindly say “Saint Louis, USA.” Missouri means nothing in the grand scheme, but many Britons know of the Arch and Saint Louis.
After Holy Eucharist, I lunched in the Abbey Cellarium on salmon with blistered cherry tomato, artichoke, new potatoes, and capers. And feasted on dessert of white chocolate and lemon mouse, with a black cherry sauce. Lunch was heavenly.
As I was finishing dessert, two older gay men with American accents sat down at the adjacent table.
Said one, “I wonder what the soup is today.”
I leaned over, feigned a shudder, and said “sweet potato and celery,” which was true.
Then ensued a brief conversation. One of the men took degrees from SLU and WashU, and used to go the Opera Theatre on the Webster campus before moving to San Francisco. His partner grew up in Cape Girardeau. They met in Saint Louis.
By the way, they did not order the soup either.
The world is plenty small sometimes!
Here’s a shot of the west front of the Abbey from a couple of blocks away, taken in the rain today:
In the distance at left, you can see the scaffolding that is completely hiding the famous Big Ben.
I really like flying Air Canada!
And as I write whilst on a layover in Toronto, I’m grateful for:
- books that move me to weep
- blue skies
- the fancy United Club card for which I pay annually, but which allows me access to Star Alliance clubs around the world
- Morning Prayer
- friends who schlep me to the airport at 7.30 a.m.
- Auggie, with whom I had a tearful farewell (on my part, at least) on Tuesday
- Bose noise-canceling headphones.
What a week this was . . . !
I could barely summon the energy for a dog-walk Saturday morning, so tired was I.
This past week was my first full week at the office in the last month. We had a power outage, a canceled afternoon & evening of classes thanks to the threat (unrealized) of ice; I had a couple of days away for illness and a day away for travel.
And so this week felt grueling, but I like gruel.
I sang a cabaret show on Tuesday evening, and as usual felt the weariness 36 hours later on Thursday.
District solo & ensemble contest was this weekend. Aaron and Ronan received ratings of 1, and Isaac a 2. These ratings are accurate reflections of what the adjudicator heard, I think. (And then I found out that Grace went to contest unknownst to me, and also took home a 1 rating!)
Between their sings on Friday, I spent more money than necessary at Costco; bought some Lucky Brand jeans and a couple of pairs of socks at Nordstrom Rack; and enjoyed some Tex-Mex. But their bookends of the schedule meant a late arrival home on Friday.
And after Ronan sang on Saturday, I dropped by the shoe repair store in Ladue, then lunched on Thai noodles at Pei Wei, then went to see my niece Anna as she started her shift at Barnes & Noble.
My living room is under repair and renovation, and things are a mess. I don’t like mess.
We had our fifth audition day in the last 29 days on Friday. And orchestra concert started the week, and a choral concert will finish it this afternoon.
My Messing Award was announced.
And we received unexpected news that our assistant professor posting was approved and is now live, so I spent part of Friday evening sending emails far and wide about the suddenly-available position. We need a skill set and background that is somewhat extraordinary, so this search will be a fun one!
I saw all but one of my students this week, both at Webster and at home.
The decennial accreditation process with the National Association of Schools of Music has begun in earnest. Hours fly by when having that fun!
I closed on the refinance of my house, and am now in a shorter mortgage with happier terms.
So, after this litany of why I’m beat, the thanksgivings —
I am thankful for, and recognize that I am blessed with:
- A home
- A dog
- Job security
- A salary that leaves me comfortable
- The promise of money in the bank when I retire in a few more years
- Joyous anticipation of several international trips in the next few years
- A voice with which to teach and enlighten and entertain
- No worries about where my next meal is going to be found, or how I will get someplace
- Good and talented students who wish to learn and grow
- Family that is well-knit and gets along
- The promise of Spring, since my daffodils and tulips are now emerging from sleep
- The luxury of burning candles for mood and scent, and not out of necessity.
Since I will be in Moscow, Vienna, and London for Holy Week 2018, I am making my plans for where to attend services.
Palm Sunday will find me away from church, as that’s a transit day from Moscow to Vienna.
But I will be in London for the Triduum and Easter Sunday, and will make the most of the opportunity to taste and see and hear choral music in fine institutions:
- Maundy Thursday at St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Good Friday Matins at St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Good Friday evening concert at King’s College Cambridge
- Saturday evening Great Vigil of Easter at All Saint’s Margaret Street
- Easter Sunday Holy Eucharist and Evensong at Westminster Abbey