A brief overview of my sabbatical experiences in the U.K.

I'm writing this from my rooms at St. John's College, Cambridge, where I have spent the past three, blissful days. Today was Ascension Day, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

{grid8}Nearly three weeks ago, I arrived in London. During my first week, I attended rehearsals and evensongs at St. Bride's Church (London), Rochester Cathedral, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey. I then spent the weekend in Paris, where I attended High Mass and the Organ Recital following at the church of St. Sulpice. (The choir is not to be commended, although the organ playing is superb!)

During my second week, I spent one day in Windsor, and attended a rehearsal and Evensong at St. George's Chapel, and got a chance to spend some time over a gin with the choirmaster, James Vivian. The next day I traveled to Oxford, where I stayed in a room at Magdalen College. While there, I heard the choirs of Magdalen College, New College, and Christ Church Cathedral. I also got the chance to play the new organ at Merton College (which was installed by the Dobson Organ Co, the builder of the new organ for St. Thomas Church, 5th Ave). Later that weekend, I returned to London to perform an organ recital at an 11th century Norman parish church in the Diocese of St Alban's.

This last week in the U.K. has perhaps been the most moving and incredible. Staying in rooms at St. John's College has been a rare treat, as has simply wandering around this place, which is simply bursting at the seams with choirs and organs. King's College and St. John's College are less than a 10 minute walk from each other, and, because King's Evensong is at 5:30, and St. John's is at 6:30, it's possible to hear two of the world's best choirs in worship, back to back. This I took advantage of on Tuesday and Thursday. What a thrilling experience to hear these spectacular ensembles at home. Thursday was Ascension Day, so I was able to attend mass at both colleges. At King's, the choir sang Herbert Howells "Collegium Regale" Communion Service (which was written for and dedicated to that choir), including the choral setting of the Nicene Creed. The King's organ has just been restored, and it was the dream of a lifetime to worship there.

Next week I travel to Germany to follow in the footsteps of J.S. Bach. I'll be in Berlin, Dresden, and Leipzig, where I will attend the Sunday mass at Bach's Church, St. Thomas.

I have been praying for our parish family in each chapel and cathedral that I have entered. Please pray for my continued safety and know of my gratitude. A big thank you to Mike Raleigh, Sister Christine, Lee Ridgway, and Daryl Bichel.