I had the pleasure of fulfilling a long-time goal just over a week ago, when I worshiped with the church at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. I grew up knowing of this nearly two-hundred-year-old church (they celebrate their bicentennial in 2017) but had never attended.
I was immediately and warmly greeted upon entering fifteen minutes or so before the start of the 10 a.m. service. A family at the front was receiving final instructions for a baby baptism to be held in the service, and the choir was warming up.
The church filled quickly. Following the stately processional, complete with incense (oh, yeah!), the organ and choir provided accompaniment for the liturgy of the day which was printed in a sixteen-page program (with an additional four-page insert for announcements). The organist was finestkind. The choir was excellent--especially the sopranos. And the liturgy was ably and feelingly presented.
I loved that the program included helpful explanations and elucidations of the liturgy, its components and its meaning (see above).
The baptism (above), performed by the Very Reverend Gail Greenwell (dean of the cathedral), was delightful, a perfect blend of formality and informality, deep meaning and familial comfort.
I learned by reading the program (yes, I'm one of those few who actually read the program) that since I was there on the first Sunday of November (which was also All Saints' Sunday), a guided tour of the church was offered following the service. So I stayed.
I'm so glad I did. The docent, whose name I forget, is also a former history teacher, retired lawyer, and the church archivist. He could not have been kinder, more thorough, nor more knowledgeable. He offered numerous fascinating details of the church's history, architecture, and art, and took me (and one other participant) many places I could never have found or appreciated otherwise. Having been fascinated throughout the service by the glass rosette in the ambulatory (visible past the altar in the first two photos, above), which glimmers with a rose or pink hue as light shines through the crystal design, I was glad to get a closer view.
The cloister and columbarium (above) provides a beautiful setting for prayer and contemplation.
And I got to visit the library, too (above), which is not just well stocked with religious books but also benefits from a long-ago endowment that provides for the purchase of every New York Times bestseller. I love churches with libraries intended for actual use!
Two other stops on the tour will be featured in the weeks to come on this blog. Christ Church Cathedral is located at 318 East Fourth Street (though the entrance to the church on Sundays is from Sycamore St. Sunday services are held at 8 a.m. (in the Centennial Chapel) and 10 a.m. (in the main sanctuary), with a 5 p.m. Sunday Evensong service on first Sundays of the month, October through May).
(Please feel free to share this post with others using the Twitter, Facebook, and other buttons below. You can also subscribe to this blog in your blog reader or enter your email address at top right to receive posts via email)