Perhaps of all the unique events within this place, the Processional is my favorite. They do it so splendidly! On Sunday, the church celebrated All Saints Day in the Church of England, a day that is held in honor of the saints, 'known and unknown'. The church was packed, the choir in wonderful form, and there were two priests! I slipped into my pew just as the bells concluded their proclamation, to Come!
Just as the organist began his opening chords of the first hymn, I knew we were in for a celebration. It is a particular favorite, and particularly uplifting - For All The Saints. Do you know it? If you would like to hear it, you may find it here. Each word is heavy with meaning -
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Thou wast their rock, their fortress and their might;
Thou, Lord, their captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
"In the Bible and the Methodist Church, the word "saints" refers to all Christians and therefore, on All Saints' Day, the Church Universal, as well as the deceased members of a local congregation, are honored and remembered." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Day
During the service, we were told that the next day would be All Souls Day, where members of the congregation could commemorate their own faithful departed, whether they be from their families or the broader church. I was unable to go, but would have felt privileged to stand with them.
But on the Sunday, we were singing that hymn - and did we ever! The congregation sang with all their might as the choir processed around us multiple times, throughout most all of the hymn. The celebration lifted us up and gave us strength and hope. Kneeling where they had kneeled, bending the knee in order to be forgiven, as they had been. We felt as though that great 'Cloud of witnesses' was right there with us, saying "Keep going! Don't give up! It will be worth it all when you see His face!"
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
During communion, the priest lifted his arms during the Hosannas, superimposed against the stained glass where Christ stood, blessing the children. It was a magnificent invitation to come and not lose heart.
After a cup of tea and sweet conversation, I stepped back out into the sunshine. "Thank you, it was a lovely service!" I said to the new priest standing at the door. He caught the accent, and replied, "We do things right here in Cornwall."
"Yes you do! Amen!" I replied, and he sent me on my way with a smile. The organist had gone back to our first hymn, and a few parishioners stood singing with him:
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
See you along the Way!
'When hearts are brave again, and arms are strong, Alleluia, Alleluia!'
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/38927672@N03/20601822660">Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven (detail) by Fra Angelico - National Gallery</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/121256715@N07/13382290845">Fra Angelico, Predella of the San Domenico Altarpiece, 1423-24, tempera and gold on panel, 32 x 244 cm (National Gallery, London)</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>