IT IS sometimes easy to forget the photographer in the triforium when the service begins to drag. Ending up in the Church Times caption competition is a fitting punishment, perhaps.
It might, of course, have been a new mass setting, or some other innocent pursuit. Our readers would have none of it: “Watching EastEnders together at mass must be Bishop Baines’s idea of heaven” (Patrick Irwin); “Voting for Strictly still had not opened, but Graham had his finger poised” (Vicky Lundberg); “Strange how the Introit always prompted Robert to complete his Ocado shopping order for the following week” (Peter Chapman); “The Precentor’s wife reminded him that he had to pick up the Christmas turkey after the carol service” (Brian Stevenson); and “Dressed in his whites, he surreptitiously checked the latest cricket score” (Maree Foster).
A couple of readers were sharp enough to realise that the photo had been taken at the inauguration of the new General Synod in Westminster Abbey: “The RSCM’s ‘How to Survive the Sermon’ app has been installed at the Abbey” (John Saxbee); and “It was the only time that the phrases ‘General Synod’ and ‘Kindle Fire’ had been used in the same sentence” (David Hill).
We’re not averse to a little flattery, but not quite vain enough to award prizes for it: “The new Church Times app was just too tempting” (Richard Barnes); “Reading the Church Times on a tablet during Divine Worship is permissible by #canonlaw” (John Radford); “Evidence that reading the Church Times online is addictive” (Chris Coupe); and “John had to admit that downloading the Church Times Sunday’s Readings notes just before he was due to preach was cutting it fine” (Peter Chapman).
We were a little shocked at how cynical you all are: “Just as he thought: another downloaded sermon” (Chris Coupe); “Word for word, this sermon is from ‘Sermons ’R’ Us’” (Peter Walker); and “This was great: he could hear Bridget’s Sunday’s Readings column from the pulpit and play ‘Spot the difference’ at the same time” (Janet Chapman).
We had several versions of “Kindle, we pray, in the laps of all men. . .” (Richard Barnes); “Kindle a Fire in our laps, we beseech thee, O Lord” (Derwyn Williams); “Kindle a flame of sacred love. . .” (Tom Page), etc.
A few general suggestions: “Today’s Table of Kindred and Affinity seemed much longer than the BCP one” (Richard Barnes); “It used to be difficult when television programmes clashed with Sunday evensong, but now a solution was available” (Patrick Irwin); “It was touch and go whether War and Peace or the Archdeacon’s Charge would end first” (David Hill); and “Mark was disappointed with the Advent calendar app as there didn’t seem to be any Divine chocolate in it” (Sue Chick).
Or: “My doctor said I should keep my tablet with me” (Chris Coupe); “Unfortunately, Fr Peter had omitted to turn back to the liturgy when his cue to speak came up” (Richard Hough); “Not what the vicar meant when he said, ‘And the text for today is. . .’” (Tom Page); and “Oh, for the old days when the choristers would be solving the crossword” (Don Manley).
A couple of quotations: “Go now, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book; so that it may be for the time to come as a witness for ever (Isaiah 30.8)” (Janet Stockton); and “Oh, the rising of the sun, And the running of the deer, The playing of the merry organ, Sweet tweeting in the choir” (Charles Taylor).
We liked all these, but were particularly taken with: “The Bishop enjoyed the lesson so much that he decided to read ahead to see how the book ended” (George Frost); “Antiphon? I thought the liturgy said ‘an iPhone’,” the confused chorister explained” (Estelle Reed Wilson); “Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is texting his prayers” (Patrick Irwin).
Also: “Yet another one tempted by an apple” (Tom Page); and “Ah, the Apple Tree carol app” (Sue Chick). Perhaps an inappropriate time to check for vacancies in other Dioceses? (Chris Coupe)
Our thanks to Divine for providing the prizes for this competition for another year (divinechocolate.com).
Two of the competitors will receive samples of their Fairtrade chocolate this week.