St Erme, Cornwall

St Erme's, St Erme with Trispen, Cornwall, England


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: St Erme's
Location: St Erme with Trispen, Cornwall, England
Date of visit: Sunday, 5 February 2012, 9:30am

The building

The church dates from the middle ages but only the tower survives. It was rebuilt in 1819-20 following two long incumbencies in the 18th century that had left the fabric of the church in ruin. The Cornish historian and antiquarian Charles Gordon Henderson described the new plan as "unhappily chosen." Even so, it seemed to me to be a very pretty church set in a spacious churchyard. The tower has a ring of six bells.

The church

The church is part of the Upper Fal Churches Cluster, with seven churches in the cluster. Their website lists a number of activities, but it is not clear which of them take place at St Erme as opposed to the other churches in the cluster.

The neighborhood

Located about four miles north of Truro, St Erme with Trispen is the result of the amalgamation of two hamlets in the 1970s. Other than a shop (including post office), church and pub, it is mostly a dormitory village for folk who work in Truro.

The cast

The celebrant was referred to only as Andrew, but I presume he was the Revd Canon Andrew Wade, although the Revd Andrew Yates is also listed on their website. Not sure who the preacher was.

What was the name of the service?

Family Communion.

How full was the building?

Not very full. There were eighteen of us in total, including six children.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

A woman setting up the coffee table at the back of the church offered a hello as I entered.

Was your pew comfortable?

It was a good and solid pew, not uncomfortable but not exactly comfortable either.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

The bells were ringing, which was lovely to hear and they added to the pre-service atmosphere. However, during a pause in ringing, the ringers were chatting away, which was very noticeable.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Good morning. It is very good to be at St Erme, where we will be celebrating Candlemas."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Celebration Hymnal Volume 1; St Erme Hymn Supplement; Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised; Service Sheet for the Presentation of Christ in the Temple; and the Family Communion Booklet.

What musical instruments were played?


Did anything distract you?

It was cold, but the radiators around the side of the church were definitely on. At least Cornwall had avoided the snow that had hit the rest of the country! I was confused because I had already celebrated the Presentation the Sunday before and knew that it shouldn't have been transferred to this Sunday, but in the end does it really matter?

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Good old middle of the road Anglican worship. The celebrant was wearing alb and stole. There was not a lot of ceremony but it was all done in a dignified manner. The children lit candles and processed to the font for the Nunc Dimittis.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

14 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

9 – Not sure who the speaker was, but everyone else knew her, as she popped out from her pew at the front of the church. It was a family service and the talk reflected this, getting the children involved.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

Celebrations. Tying in the celebration of presenting Jesus in the temple and meeting the elderly Simeon and Anna, with the celebrations in the UK this year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. A nice link with the light of the Olympic torch arriving in Cornwall and Candlemas.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The church had a lovely feeling of being a prayerful place.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

"Shine Jesus Shine." Nothing wrong with it as a hymn, but it was played in a key where singing the chorus was nigh on impossible. We all attempted it first time round, but with such high top notes everyone just about gave up trying after this!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

It was impossible to try to look lost. I was immediately spoken to by a member of the congregation, and whilst we were chatting, someone else came and asked if I would like a coffee. There was more chatting with a lovely family. I tend to hate this part, but it was a delight to stay and have coffee.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

In a church with no kitchen, it was a very acceptable and hot cup of coffee, served in a cup and saucer and just right to warm us up. Coudn't see if it was fairly traded, but the church does advertise that is supports Fair Trade.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

8 – If it was my parish church I would be delighted to make this my regular church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Yes. It may have been small in number but it felt prayerful and spiritual.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

The children processing with candles to gather at the font.

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