G and I arrived at St. Paul’s two hours early, with the hopes of grabbing a bite to eat in the area before the carol service at 4pm. But by 2, the line had already wrapped around the entire cathedral–which, by the way, is immense! The queue was already several hundred people deep, so we bought sandwiches and ate lunch in line.
One thing that impressed me while we waited was the cooperativeness of the Occupy London protesters. The line for the carol services cut through and wrapped around the tents that have been encamped at St. Paul’s for, I believe, about two months now. I thought there might be some awkwardness or heckling, but everything was very civil and orderly.
Many famous people are buried here, including the poet John Donne, one of whose sonnets was included in the readings for the carol service. I really loved the sonnet, especially lines 11-12:
Immensitie cloysterd in thy deare wombe,
Now leaves his welbelov’d imprisonment,
There he hath made himselfe to his intent
Weake enough, now into our world to come;
But Oh, for thee, for him, hath th’Inne no roome?
Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Starres and wisemen will travell to prevent
Th’effect of Herods jealous generall doome.
Seest thou, my Soule, with thy faiths eyes, how he
Which fils all place, yet none holds him, doth lye?
Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pittied by thee?
Kiss him, and with him into Egypt goe,
With his kinde mother, who partakes thy woe.
- “Nativitie,” John Donne
And the choral arrangements were so beautiful, beyond words. Their singing was truly heavenly.
After the carol service concluded, the scene of people leaving the church, its main doors wide open while the church bells were ringing… all seemed right with the world. God bless us everyone!