Today has been a bit of a long day. It’s a half hour walk to campus, and I was scheduled for 3 lecture hours and 2 of practical today, besides having business on one of the other campuses in between (another 20 min walk each way). As it turned out, one of the professors missed the lecture, which was really just as well for all of us; he got things sorted out with the electricians who had commandeered our practical room, and the rest of us got to go eat lunch. I don’t know if an equivalent exists in the US, but here they have these wonderful things called flapjacks. They aren’t pancakes, but instead bars of oats and all sorts of delicious tidbits. They’re pretty small and not exactly a balanced meal, but they’re surprisingly filling, backpackable, 59p, and oh so tasty, so I’ve been allowing myself to develop a bit of an addiction. I figure it’s one of the perks of living here.

At any rate, though the practical ran late, I still made it to Westminster Abbey for Evensong. Thrice a day for the last 943 years, Westminster Abbey has held services without fail, even during the blitz and when Henry VIII forced it to become Anglican. Sundays, of course, have more services, and there are special ones for the high holidays and some secular occasions, as well, such as Burns Night. Burns is, of course, buried in the poet’s corner of the abbey, and Sunday next is the 250th anniversary of his birth, so it will be a special night of poetry and music, indeed.

These days the only time the abbey isn’t crowded with tourists is during worship, and even then the clergy occasionally has to chase out someone with a camera. Evensong on a weekday has very few people – most of them regulars, a few like me, and a handful of tourists – and is conducted in the Quire, back by the high altar and the poets’ corner. Those who come early are seated in the stalls along with the clergy and choir, since it is also a sung service. For those of you who haven’t been to one, that means it’s heavenly. The service begins with organ music, and when that has faded, then you hear the voices of the choir echoing through the stone vaults as the boys file in from the cloisters.

Evensong is a brief and intimate service, and perhaps the best one for really appreciating the ideas of holiness and peace. In that vein, tonight’s service was dedicated to Martin Luther King, whose statue stands over the main entrance, and to all those who seek to bring peace in the world. As I saw it, this was an unusually appropriate time for such a sermon; Hamas and Israel have laid down their weapons (for a while), and we have quite the coincidence of holidays in the US this week. I can only imagine what Dr. King would think of it.

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As a footnote, we were forecast for heavy rain today, and it was indeed raining when I woke. However, as I stepped outside, it stopped, and the rest of the day was sunny.

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