Kings College Cambridge

Kings College, Cambridge is one of the most perfectly splendid churches in Christendom. A lofty and open space, it rivals any gothic church anywhere for the combination of light and celestial beauty. When the architecture and beautiful setting along the banks of the River Cam are combined with the singing of the world famous choir the overall effect is unforgettable.
I was chaplain to the choir school for two years, teaching religion and working with the boys who were selected to sing in the choir. It was a fantastic experience, not least of which was the opportunity to worship in the church every day, preach and celebrate the sacraments in such a glorious building.
Unfortunately there was a direct inverse relationship between the beauty, antiquity and splendor of the place and the reality of the religion practiced there. When I was there the college chaplain was an open homosexual, the Dean (the top clergyman) was an agnostic theologian. The religion was the sophisticated, slightly weary, disdainful, reductionist variety of educated liberalism you only find in the Anglican Church. 
It was all a museum piece, a beautiful artifact of the medieval ages. One kept the music and liturgy going because it was a lovely English tradition, and we wouldn’t want to stop anything like that. But do we believe it all? No one would commit such an error in taste…
While there I remember standing outside the doors of the Catholic chaplaincy to go in and ask for instruction. Something held me back, and I wouldn’t make the step for another seven years. 

  • Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ

    Fr Guy Nicholls enjoyed your post Fr..having studied there…

  • leutgeb

    I was in Cambridge last year for Palm Sunday and thought I’d see if there was any great singing to be heard at King’s or St John’s. Nothing – as it was during the University Vacation.Very jarring to Catholic sensibilities where Churches relentlessly offer Masses every day, never mind in Holy Week.For me, the mind set you describe is in the music and in its performance. Bringing Anglican Music into Catholic Churches to me is like importing the Book of Common Prayer, but the emphasis on professional choirs is one that is very sorely lacking in the UK Catholic Church, Westminster Cathedral aside. It’s not like we don’t have fantastic repertore, after all.

  • Fr Bob

    Father, we have so much in common! We must get together the next time you come up to Ohio :). I lived at Our Lady and the English Martyrs from Jan 1995 after being received into the Church, and after ordination was appointed Parochial Vicar there until 1999 when I moved to the States :)I have had the rare privilege of touching the glorious painting at Kings – a friend was a sacristan there and I helped him close the church for the night so we had to close the triptich….Fr Bob

  • Jay Anderson

    This one’s on my list of 10 favorite churches, as well.