Summoned by bells
Once a year the maritime community throng into St. Paul’s Cathedral for the Annual National Service for Seafarers, to celebrate the wonder of the sea and its relevance to our life today and the lessons of yesteryear.
It is awe-inspiring to see the congregation, drawn from every age group and including everyone who celebrates their connection with maritime affairs – be it business or leisure – mount the steps leading into the Great West Door, revealing to all the magnificence and power of architecture. The Band of the Royal Marines thunders its repertoire of stirring maritime themes to fill the heart with pride and wonder. Both young and old from associations and colleges proudly process with their banners to the fore as they are presented to the dome altar. Meanwhile, the gathered choirs from maritime colleges set the musical scene. The clergy and civic city leaders add colour and majesty to the congregation – all 2,500 of them gathered to celebrate 500 years of Trinity House and the Watermen and Lightermen’s Company, and 175 years of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society.
Both the Bishop of London and the Princess Royal added status to the celebrations with readings and a splendid sermon, supported by young cadets and apprentices who are training for careers at sea and on our rivers and waterways.
A stroll through a rainy square mile, once so familiar, with gleaming new office buildings contrasting with the 800-year-old Guildhall where a civic reception hosted by the City of London Corporation added even more grandeur to this unique celebration of our heritage.
Saturday 8th November the Lord Mayor’s Show Flotilla will provide another opportunity to view the elegant Queen’s Royal Barge Gloriana from Tower Bridge, as the new Lord Mayor starts his year of office, reflecting traditions of yesteryear, travelling by river from Westminster to HMS President in the Pool – an early start at 09:20.