Our first full day in Lincoln began with the dulcet tones of the Cathedral’s Winchester chimes announcing the hour of 7 o’clock of the morning. Having slept soundly following our severe jet lag, we were eager to get moving. (And at the 9 o’clock chimes I did just that! Still a bit laggy….)
Lincoln Cathedral hosts a popular Jazz Festival, so we enjoyed “Jazz Mass” on this Sunday morning, chock-full of American music! It seemed almost as if they were welcoming us in particular. The sermon, given by The Revd Canon David Dadswell, Prebendary of Norton Episcopi and Residentiary Canon, had as its theme a wonderful concept: joyful generosity. The notion of being joyfully generous is about the spirit with which many musicians gladly give of themselves, feeling a need to share their gifts with others. He was primarily referring to the jazz musicians in town for the festival, but it felt as if he was speaking directly to us and about a main purpose of our pilgrimage, which is to share our version of God’s praise through music. Perhaps it’s more than a coincidence that Lincoln Cathedral is hosting a festival for an American music style while also bringing in an American choir to lead their worship? And much of our repertoire is, of course, also American.
Our American + British theme continued later in the afternoon, whilst enjoying a locally-produced libation at the Magna Carta Pub (after lunch at the Wig & Mitre). There we encountered a young Englishman who, as he explained, went to an Episcopal monastery in upstate New York — as an atheist — and left there having perceived a call to become a priest. But the experience so rattled him that he couldn’t bring himself to attend any church services from then until now, some years on. Today, he came to Evensong and felt its ineluctable beauty and power. When we explained who we were, he became even more excited and promised to come to our Evensong services this week. We can’t know whether our musical endeavors will clarify his liminal conundrum but we’ll do our best.
But this place is certainly an excellent setting for potential epiphanies. Construction here began in 1068, just two years after the Battle of Hastings, during the Norman Conquest. People have been worshipping in this sanctuary for nearly a thousand years! Each time we walk into the Nave from the western door our breath catches, our eyes drift upward, the beautiful strains of the (current) choir echo down from the vaults and reach our appreciative ears, and again we give thanks and praise for our opportunity (finally!) to be here, to participate in this truly ancient tradition of choral services, and offer our gifts joyously and as generously as we may.
We officially begin tomorrow! We have a guided tour of the Cathedral in the morning, then after lunch we’ll have our first rehearsal and first Evensong, so please tune in at 12:30 Eastern on the Lincoln Cathedral Facebook page link provided below.