Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ash Incense and St David

Tonight we had our imposition of ashes service.

We also had ( for me the unwelcome ) return of incense.

I love watching the ritual of the incense being swung but not quite so much when the sacristan swings it in the direction of the choir.

Enclosed as we are in the chancel the smoke stays with us for most of the service, whereas in the main body of the church it tends to drift up into the (very) high roof.

Trying to do justice to "Hide not thou thy face" with a throat and chest full of pungent incense is not easy.

By the time the black cross has been impressed on my forehead by the rector's heavy thumb and with lungs full of smoke my one desire is to get out into the cool damp air of the churchyard and breath clean air.

Since our organist was unable to play this evening our long-suffering choir-mistress had to play the piano to accompany our singing.  This meant that we had no-one to conduct and of course the sopranos lost her beautiful voice to swell their ranks.

Ash Wednesday being a fairly stylised service it was not possible to mention the fact that today was also St David's day, but as the piano accompanied our exit after the service I suddenly recognised a Welsh folk tune in the medley being played.  Our lovely Christine's nod to my patron saint.

Lent is well and truly started.


  1. Wow....your church obviously does a very good Ash Wednesday!
    I do agree with the difficulty of singing with a throat full of incense!

  2. Yes we do Lent rather better than some of our other church 'seasons' and , Easter is usually pretty spectacular.
    I love the music at this time of the church calendar but find the incense a definite hindrance.

  3. We hardly ever celebrate Ash Wednesday in our parts, I really miss it. The incense is only used in our Domes and in the catholic parishes. Lent is celebrated very much in some churches and hardly at all in some. The church of Sweden is a church with GREAT many varieties, it would be nice to come and celebrate in St Marys, Ray!!

  4. For us in the Anglican tradition Ash Wednesday is very important, and the "Imposition of Ashes" is the mark on each baptised member of the church which sets us aside from other faiths in the run up to Easter.
    Although our current incumbent is American he is adapting from his Episcopalien to our 'High Church' style with only an occasional lapse into a more evangelical approach.
    I have yet another cold/virus so am hoping to overcome this one in record time so I don't have to miss any more of the Lenten services.

    1. There might be a possibility to involve viruses in Lent, make them stay away from the temptation of making your life miserable.....We have parishes in our dioces that celebrates in "High Church" style. They are often believed to be excluding and that is very bad indeed...for my own part I find it soothing and strengthening with that rytm of the spirituality and wish my own parish could have just some of that inner life. I have tried, but in vain. I do feel, however, that the evangelical and high church could meet on friendly terms, even if he is American!

    2. A good idea Solveig. Make viruses do penance for Lent. Just, have you thought how to get in touch with them?
      For me the High Church style has all the ritual and solemnity I need to get my mind in the right place for prayer.
      The 'modern language', guitar or drums accompanied arm-waving style of worship makes me want to run and hide.
      Absolute simplicity, such as the Quaker approach is something I could accept since there is enough silence to allow the mind to make its own way to prayer.
      I'm sure there is room enough for all types of approach, but have chosen my style and am unlikely ever to want to change it.

  5. I really appreciated being asked to take an Ash Wednesday service this year for the first time since I retired. It was very simple and low-key, just a said service. I too lover High Church worship and the scent of incense, but only if it has been used with a very light hand.

  6. I'm glad you got to do an Ash Wednesday service. It is the beginning of my favourite church season. The Lent and Easter music in our church is lovely. It is so good to be able to sing at my age (despite the incense).