As you enter, you will notice an atmosphere of worship and reverence. Anglican churches are built in many architectural styles; St. Paul’s Cathedral is Gothic; but whether the church be small or large like the Cathedral, elaborate or plain, your eye is carried to the altar, or holy table, and to the cross. So our thoughts are taken at once to Christ and to God whose house the church is.
On or near the altar there are candles to remind us that Christ is the "Light of the world’’ (John 8:12). Often there are flowers, to beautify God's house and to recall the resurrection of Jesus.
You will notice at the front of the church there is the pulpit on the left side of the Cathedral; here the sermon is preached. In addition, notice the eagle lectern on the right side and a small stand at the top of the chancel steps for the proclamation of the Word; here the Scriptures are read.
The Act of Worship
The services at the Cathedral and in all Anglican churches are congregational. Look inside the bulletin for the name of the service book we will be using for each service. This will enable you and the rest of the congregation to share fully in every service. In the pews you will likely find the maroon Book of Common Prayer, and the green Book of Alternative Services. In the Book of Common Prayer, the large print is the actual service. The smaller print gives directions to priests and people for conduct of the service. In the Book of Alternative services directions are given in red print.
You may wonder when to stand or kneel. Practices vary---even among individual Anglicans. The general rule is to stand to sing---hymns (found in the Blue Hymnal in the pews) and other songs (many of them from the Holy Bible) called canticles or chants and printed as part of the service. We stand, too, to say our affirmation of faith, the Creed; and for the reading of the Gospel in the Holy Eucharist. Psalms are sung or said sitting or standing. We sit during readings from the Old Testament or New Testament Letters, the sermon, and the choir anthems. We stand or kneel for prayer to show our gratefulness to God for accepting us as children or as an act of humility before God. Listen for direction from the clergy or watch others around you.
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The Regular Services
The principal service is the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion). This service is celebrated quite simply, without music, 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. Weekday celebrations Wednesdays at 8:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. also are frequently without music, and without sermon. When celebrated on Sundays at 10:00 a.m., or on other great Christian days such as Christmas, music with partial or full choir and a sermon are customary. These services may be also be referred to as Sung Eucharist or Choral Eucharist. The 10:00 a.m. service also includes Chilrden's Liturgy of the Word, or Church School, and a nursery is provided here and for some special services.
Any baptized person is welcome to join us at Communion in receiving the Body (bread) and Blood (wine) of Christ. If you would like to participate but are not comfortable with Communion, please come forward and ask for a blessing from the person administering the bread by simply cross your hands over your chest.
Another service is Morning Prayer held at 8:45 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and Fridays. The parallel evening service is Evening Prayer. These services consist of psalms, Bible readings, and prayers; and may include a sermon. They may be with or without music.
While some parts of the services are always the same, others change. At the Holy Eucharist, for example, Bible selections are read. One from the Old Testament followed by the Psalm (which may be sung by the choir) followed by the New Testament reading and then the Holy Gospel. These readings change each Sunday. Certainly all of the prayers also change, in order to provide variety. Page numbers for parts of the service printed elsewhere in the Book are usually announced or given in the service bulletin. But do not be embarrassed to ask your neighbour for the page number.
You will find the services at the Cathedral beautiful in their ordered dignity, God-centred, and yet mindful of the nature and needs of human beings.
Please feel free to attend any one of the following services offered by the Cathedral.
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Baptisms are arranged with the clergy. Holy Baptism is a sacrament, the act of grace which initiates a person into the body of Christ, the communion which is the Church. The sacrament of Baptism is celebrated during the 10:00am service, by arrangement, at specific times throughout the year. Please make arrangements with any of the clergy.
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The Laying on of Hands and Anointing is offered in St. Aidan's Chapel during Holy Communion at the Sunday 10:00am Celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This ministry is available for those who are in need themselves or wish this ministry on behalf of others. Our plan is to offer this ministry at other Cathedral Services in the near future. For information please contact the Church Office or contact a member of the Clergy Team.
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Before and After
It is the custom upon entering church to kneel in one's pew for a prayer of personal preparation for worship. In many churches it is also the custom to bow to the altar on entering and leaving the church as an act of reverence for Christ.
Some people do not talk in church before a service but use this time for personal meditation and devotions. At the end of the service some persons kneel for a private prayer before leaving. Others sometimes sit to listen to the organ postlude. We hope you will choose a practice that suits you and respects others.
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Coming and Going
Greeters at every door are there to provide you with a bulletin and to escort you to a pew if you desire and to invite you to our coffee hour after the service. In addition, they are most pleased to answer any questions about the service. Pews are unreserved in the main body of the church. Following the service the clergy team will greet the people as they leave.
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You Will Not be Embarrassed
When you visit the Cathedral, you will be our respected and welcome guest. You will not be singled out in an embarrassing way, nor asked to stand before the congregation nor to come forward. You will simply worship God with us.
Should you wish to know more about the St. Paul’s Cathedral please feel free to ask anyone of the clergy team or the greeters or use the handy pew card provided.
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Books of Worship
The Book of Common Prayer, first produced by Archbishop Cranmer in 1549, has defined the character of Anglicanism. It has gone through many revisions, each new version often reflecting a significant theological shift from earlier editions. The fifth prayer book, of 1662, remained the most popular standard text until more recent revisions in this century. In Canada, the Book of Common Prayer was revised in 1918 and 1959.
The 20th century has seen a renewed interest in liturgy in many denominations and in many parts of the world. One of the aims of the liturgical movement has been to restore the participation of the people in worship and to make the Eucharist the central service of parish worship.
Anglicans all over the world have translated the Book of Common Prayer into the local language, and at the same time have developed alternative liturgies that include historical and contemporary texts while also allowing for more involvement of lay people in worship. In Canada, The Book of Alternative Services was authorized in 1985 as an alternative to the Prayer Book. It does not replace it as the official prayer book for the church, but it is an alternative in contemporary language authorized for use by the General Synod and the diocesan bishop.
Liturgical revision is an ongoing process, and we will likely see the development of many other liturgical texts during our lifetime as Anglicans.
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