Composed by Hubert Parry and sung at our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation, the majestic anthem ‘I was Glad’ is based on words from Psalm 122. Do listen to it again.
When I hear it, all the hairs on my back stand up and I have a nearly irresistible desire to stretch up my hands to the heavens and fall to my knees in rapturous adoration. Once, in festal procession at Sherborne Abbey, as I carried aloft the Gospel Book in my role as Deacon, I was so overwhelmed in that most majestic of spaces on hearing the opening bars, that I quite lost my balance, tripped over my feet and struck a minor Bishop on the head!
Serving in such a place was a rare privilege. The Abbey was in itself a ‘convicting article’ to paraphrase Cranmer. It’s very presence could bring you to faith! It was a building that unashamedly proclaimed the greatness of the God we worship. In consequence it informed the character of the community of faith who gathered Sunday by Sunday to worship there. They were ‘Domus Dei’ – the house of God!
In contrast, the daughter church built in the 1960’s to be a multi-use ‘worship centre’ serving ‘the other side of town’ made you think how glad you would be to knock it down. The community of faith who suffered to worship there were very much ‘Domus Ecclesia’ – the house of the people. You can guess which congregation could be a bit stand offish and which gave a warmer welcome… And that welcome brought just as many people to faith as did the Abbey building – if not more.
As we prepare to re-enter into the house of the Lord, please reflect on not only what it means to, you but what it does to you and for you.
‘For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do you good – vs 9’
Trusting that the true temple of God is within you.