London Lantern

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A New Year's Day In London - St Paul's Cathedral

25/11/2002, By Candice Caster

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 13509 votes


We had planned to attend Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral, so we headed over that way hoping to find a place to eat beforehand. This was somewhat worrisome as we were discovering that nearly all restaurants and pubs seemed to be closed. Emerging from St. Paul’s Tube Stop, we heard the pealing of the bells of St. Paul’s, the same bells that had remained silent throughout World War II, ringing only when Paris was finally liberated.

Drawn to this magnificent cathedral, a lighted Christmas tree adorning its façade, we noticed it seemed to be somewhat busy, in sharp contrast to the rest of the streets of the City, and were glad to see a sign stating a special holiday dinner was being served in the Crypt Restaurant.

Thoroughly enjoying a three-course dinner of smoked applewood cheese and potato salad, baked salmon with parsley sauce and orange crème brûlée, we passed several hours here in the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, enjoying the Dutch couple that sat next to us, and the antics of their two small boys.

It was eventually time to head upstairs for the service. The London Cantata Choir was to be the visiting choir for the occasion, and we were thrilled to be back where we had developed such a “connection” the previous year during an Evensong service.

We sat in wonderment under the renowned Dome that, at the time of its design, was considered far too flamboyant for a Protestant church; and I thought of the Cathedral’s architect, the prolific Sir Christopher Wren, who had produced and submitted to the clergy a wooden model of what he had hoped his Cathedral to be, and burst into tears upon its rejection.

Visitors to St. Paul’s can see this model today, as it remains housed there. It, amazingly, resembles the end result, for Wren boldly took a few liberties toward the end of the project and was able to fulfill his dream. He also sat here beneath the Dome one winter morning in 1723, at age 91, an old man who had to be assisted up the steps by his coachman.

There were to be no more visits for him to this place that is his lasting legacy for he died later that day and was one of the first of many to be buried in the crypt. This man who was so opposed to monuments in his Cathedral lies beneath a black stone that simply and poignantly states, in Latin, “Reader, if you need a monument, look around you.”

The service was moving, as always, but unfortunately, our lack of sleep caught up with us and it was a struggle to stay awake. I never knew it was possible to fall asleep on one’s feet! Thankful that we had made the decision to forego wine with our meal downstairs and shivering somewhat in the slightly chilly Cathedral, we somehow managed to make it through the service.

We left St. Paul’s, sleepy but elated. It had been an unforgettable day.

I cannot imagine ever celebrating New Year’s Day again without remembering the one in the year 2002 that began with a ride into London on the “Gatwick Express,” continued with the sheer fun of a parade, and ended in song at St. Paul’s Cathedral, that indomitable structure that almost seems to be part of heaven itself.

Candice Caster

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Re: A New Year's Day In London - St Paul's Cathedral

By Paul Hopson, twinoaks99@msn.com 11/12/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 12530 votes)

I am looking for the American Roll of Honor, American Memorial Chapel, St. Paul's Cathedral. Please if you have any information of how to find this site, I have an uncle listed in this book.
Paul Hopson
twinoaks99@msn.com

<b>Editor: You will find it at St Paul's Cathedral.</b>

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Re: A New Year's Day In London - St Paul's Cathedral

By Richard Wyland 13/02/2003, (Rating: 2.9 from 12540 votes)

I have had the pleasure of attending services at St.Paul's as well...
Crimbo '98 I had the pleasure and joy of attending Christmas Eve services at Westminster Abbey...TRANSENDENTAL...yes

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