The Royal Visit – as it happened – part two

The Order of Service for Passion Sunday

When the ‘Official group from the UK’ visited St. Clement’s Church on Saturday 16th January 2010 in order to begin planning the details of this Royal Visit, I was asked  what form our normal 11am Sunday service took. I replied that, as it was the only service we had on a Sunday, it was a service of Holy Communion or ‘Sung Eucharist’ as we normally call it. I was then asked how long the service lasted and I replied that it was normally around an hour and a quarter.

The emphasis of all our discussions was the desire that the Royal Couple should be able to join with the regular congregation for their normal Sunday service. However, I was asked whether, because of certain timetabling constraints, I could keep the service to about an hour and I gave the assurance that, with a little bit of judicious trimming it would be perfectly possible. It was on this basis that I planned the liturgy for the day together with an appropriate emphasis on it being Passion Sunday.

Therefore, it came as a considerable disappointment when in the late afternoon of Thursday 11th March, I received a phone call asking that, because of time constraints, the Church service should be non-eucharistic. It was further suggested that in order for me to fulfil the requirements of Canon Law, the ‘Ministry of the Sacrament’ could then follow shortly afterwards as a separate service for all who wanted to stay on and receive Communion.

Therefore the service attended by our Royal Visitors was a Service of the Word but it included all the elements that would have been in our normal Sung Eucharist from the beginning of the service stopping short of the Peace. We had the set Bible Readings, four hymns, Gerry led our Intercessions and I preached. And as it was,  we completed all of this in just over forty-five minutes,

In the end, everybody seemed to enjoy both services. Prince Charles in particular obviously enjoyed the hymns. And the vast majority of people stayed after the Royal Party departed, for the celebration of the Eucharist. Many of them also came on to Coffee Hour in Klimentská 18 including all of the Dutch young people.

I complained in a previous post about the lack of coverage of the Royal Visit to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic by the BBC in particular, as well as by much of the British media. However, with great delight Gerry Turner phoned me this morning alert me to this article and photograph that has appeared in this morning’s ‘Daily Telegraph’. I have to say that it is a ‘first’ for me to have my photo appear in a British national newspaper.

As always, one can pick holes in what the journalist has reported. To say in the sub-title, that we were joined by two ‘unexpected worshippers’, is somewhat exaggerated. I’ve known for two months and the whole congregation has known for over two weeks that our Royal Visitors were coming. The congregation is far from being just ‘British and American ex-pats’. Each Sunday, the number of nationalities in the congregation always runs into double figures. The Czech Republic always likes to be described as being part of ‘Central Europe’ rather than ‘Eastern Europe’. And our Sunday School is for children who are 4+ and upwards in age not ‘three and four-year-olds’.

As for the closing quote, Gerry agrees he used the word ‘chuffed’ though not exactly in the manner that it is reported. However, it certainly true, that the Americans who rebelled against and kicked out Prince Charles’ forbears, were some of people most thrilled by the presence of our Royal Visitors at St. Clements last Sunday!

10 comments to The Royal Visit – as it happened – part two

  • June Taylor

    Glad everything went OK but I’ve been done. On reading that you were in today’s Telegraph, I went out and bought one,in order to keep a hard copy, only to discover that you were not in it. On re-reading the item, I realized that it was only posted at 7am today and therefore too late for my edition

  • Ricky

    June – In the end it did go well. I’m just back from meeting Charles & Camilla again, this time at an Evening Reception for them at the British Embassy. Charles’ opening line on seeing me was to ask, “Have you recovered from yesterday yet?!”

    Very sorry to hear that you have been done. I’ve just received an email this evening from someone in London asking if I know I’m in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ today. He clearly has seen a later edition than you were able to obtain in Bournemouth.

  • Kath

    What a great couple of blogs Ricky! It must have been incredibly exciting for you all. I’m so glad all went well and without mishaps – like one or two others who commented before the event, I was certainly there in spirit with you yesterday morning and I’m greatly relieved to read that the visit was so successful. Congrats to Sybille for some wonderful pictures. They really do get across the atmosphere and air of excitement. I laughed when I read about you grabbing the ‘illegal’ camera from the member of the congregation – I can just imagine you doing that! I expect you will be quite pleased to get back to normal routine after all this. Well done!

  • Ricky

    Kath – Thanks both for your comment & for being there in spirit with me yesterday. I certainly did feel supported in so many ways. People have been very appreciative of the service. Only this evening, the Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy went out of his way to speak to me and thank me for my sermon.

    I’ll pass on your congratulations to Sybille. One of her photos may well be in the Church Times this coming Friday.

    It certainly will be good to get back something closer to normality next Sunday.

  • So the big event is over with only a few hiccups, overall it seems it went very well. And it was exciting! I am sure looking back…it will be a memory long remembered. Your wife did take some lovely pictures!

    However, in some small way, I find it a little sad when a church service is controlled so tightly. Maybe in the end it doesn’t matter, but there is something I find annoying about people outside the church – basically telling how THEY want YOUR service to be! I think you did exceptionally well…now back to normal life!

    Karin on Paros

  • Ricky

    Karin – It certainly will stay in my memory for a long time to come. It probably will be the only time that I ever preach with royalty present!

    I sympathise very much with the sentiments you express in the second paragraph of your comment. It is a difficult balance to keep between doing things as we normally do but also allowing for security and timing issues which inevitably impact on the programme for the Royal Party.

    As you & Kath (above) both say, now it is back to normal life!

  • Allison

    Ricky, this is truly wonderful! Our wedding (and venue!) just keep getting more and more interesting and alluring! So glad that it all went well for you and the congregation. I love it that Prince Charles enjoyed singing the hymns!! That’s too great. Jan and I look forward to seeing you soon!

  • Ricky

    Hi Allison – The Royal visit has certainly given St. Clement’s Church some very valuable publicity. You can tell your friends & family that your wedding venue now has a royal seal of approval!!!!

    Looking forward to see both you & Jan on Easter Day.

  • Gee, maybe St. Clement’s should invite Obama to church since he is going to sign a treaty in Prague! The congregation is on a roll!
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Original Thinking in Olomouc: A Grain Silo Reborn =-.

    • Ricky

      Hi Karen – Imagine the level of security we’d have to cope with if that were to happen! I don’t think the Czech police would let anybody into Church!