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3004: St Bridget and St Cwyfan, Dyserth, Wales
St Bridget and St Cwyfan, Dyserth
Mystery Worshipper: Clwydguy.
The church: St Bridget and St Cwyfan, Dyserth, Denbighshire, Wales.
Denomination: Church in Wales, Diocese of St Asaph.
The building: The Domesday Book mentions a church being located in Dyserth, but that structure predated the present church. It may have been little more than a hermit's cell, as "Dyserth" means "hermitage." The earliest parts of the present church date from the 13th century. The building is very well described on their website, to which the reader is respectfully referred. The dedication to St Bridget stems from the belief that Bridget, a 6th century Irish saint, spent time in Wales. St Cwyfan, a 7th century saint, was a disciple of Beuno, the uncle of St Winefride, who is said to have raised seven people from the dead, including Winefride herself. The church hall, formerly the village's original school, is available for hire.
The church: The vicar is the regional dean for Forward in Faith, North Wales, They sponsor a cell of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham that was formed 12 years ago and puts on an annual pilgrimage to the shrine at Walsingham. There is one service of the eucharist each Sunday plus a Wednesday eucharist. They also partner with two nearby churches: St Michael's, Trelawnyd; and SS Mael and Sulien, Cwm.
The neighbourhood: Dyserth, a tiny village in the northernmost part of Wales, was once known for lead, copper and limestone mining. Closed since 1981, the old quarries are still visible. It's a pretty little village that attracts tourists primarily for hiking along the former railway line and other pathways, as well as to view the nearby waterfall. The shrine of Winefride's Well, which some call the Lourdes of Wales, is not far away.
The cast: The Revd Canon Robert Rowland, vicar.
The date & time: Holy Saturday, 26 March 2016, 7.30pm.

What was the name of the service?
Easter Vigil.

How full was the building?
40 people, but in the dark with candlelight the only illumination, it looked like more.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was made to feel very welcome indeed. The service was explained prior to it starting, including the stages it would go through.

Was your pew comfortable?
Traditional wooden pew with a very welcome thick pew runner made by a member of the church community.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
No gossip; very quiet atmosphere. Quite magical.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to this most holy night."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Preprinted service booklet including all hymns, readings and ceremony. Very easy to follow and excellently set out.

What musical instruments were played?
No musical instruments – all plainchant, until the Gloria, when the organ sounded forth and was used for the rest of the service.

Did anything distract you?
Just a few coughs caused by clouds of incense smelling of lavender. By candlelight they billowed up beautifully.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
As high church as you can get! Bells, smells, wonderful vestments, excellent music. No microphone failures. The service ran like clockwork, with everyone knowing exactly what to do and when to do it.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
No sermon.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
From start to finish! The lighting of the fire and the pascal candle; all present acclaiming Christ our light; and on and on. Too much to mention!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Nothing at all!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I chatted with a few members of the church community, but it was getting late and so I excused myself to make my way home.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
None at this service due to the late hour.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – I live some distance away, and that's the only thing that would keep me from this church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, very! It brought the whole meaning of Easter to the forefront of one's mind.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The wonderful smell of the lavender incense.
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