Last weekend – 14th-15th July, was both busy, but also most enjoyable. For as well as Sunday worship, I also conducted my third wedding of this year between Leigh, a Welshman and Klára, his Czech bride. The marriage took place in the Old Catholic Cathedral Church of St Lawrence on Petrín Hill from which there is this wonderful view across the centre of Prague.
This wedding presented very similar issues to those I outlined in my earlier post about my first wedding of 2012. Klára’s parents and older relatives have no English whilst none of Leigh’s family speak Czech. So I adopted the same solution, by getting the couple to produce a completely bilingual order of service to allow everyone present to follow the liturgy and Bible Readings, even when they were not being spoken in their own native language. And I again got my good friend Kvetoslav, Lay Vice President of the Czech Old Catholic Church, to help me with saying parts of the liturgy in Czech, as well as translating my words of welcome and explanation at the beginning of the service.
The weekend started with the wedding rehearsal at 6.00pm on Friday evening. Whilst I am quite familiar with the Old Catholic Cathedral, having attended numerous services in it with Bishop Dušan, this was the first time I had ever officiated at a wedding there. As I have frequently remarked in the past, the geography of a building does impact upon the way one conducts a wedding! Whilst the rehearsal was a little chaotic and slightly drawn out, it did resolve many issues, ensuring that the wedding service itself went smoothly the following day.
The bridegroom Leigh, is the son of a (sadly now deceased) Anglican priest who I’d known when he was priest in charge of a group of parishes in the same Deanery as me. There were three other Church in Wales clergy present at the wedding, one of whom, the Archdeacon of Morgannwg, Leigh’s first cousin, gave the address which was interpreted, a paragraph at a time, by Kvetoslav.
At the end of his sermon, the Archdeacon said a few words in Welsh and made the familiar claim that Welsh will be the language of heaven. Loath as I am to correct an Archdeacon, I did inform him and the rest of the congregation that Czech, not Welsh, will be the language of heaven. Why? Because it takes an eternity to learn it
Even with only half the congregation joining in, we still did come close to causing serious damage to the roof of the Cathedral with the singing of ‘Guide me, O thou great Redeemer’, to the wonderful tune ‘Cwm Rhondda’. And at the end of the service, I was very pleased to successfully give the blessing tri-lingually, in Czech, Welsh and English.
The afternoon reception took place in Villa Richter, on the far side of Prague Castle with wonderful views across the city. The food and drink were plentiful and of a high standard and Sybille and I enjoyed making the acquaintance of various friends and relatives of the happy couple. The Welsh clergy and their families, made frequent enquiries about St. Clements, with numerous expressions of their intention to join us for worship the next day. We eventually left the celebrations soon after 7.00pm but I understand that a barbecue and further evening entertainment was planned.
As I outlined in my recent post, ‘Summer comes to Prague‘, during July and August, many of our regular congregation are away from Prague, either on holiday/vacation, or returning to their home countries to visit family and friends. So it was most encouraging to still have a very good number of members of our regular congregation for worship on the morning of Sunday 15th July.
As always, we also had the privilege of welcoming numerous visitors. As well as two American friends of one of our congregational members, we had four young men from the Netherlands, two young ladies from Sweden, a couple from South Korea, and a gentleman from Malaysia. But did we have any Church in Wales clergy and their families? No! Clearly the party went on far too long on Saturday night. I am considering the wording of my letter to the Bishop of Llandaff