"Night Church in Copenhagen" ...
* * *Follows a lengthy post April 9 on the "intellectual failure of orthodox Christianity" and Danish theologians
The first Friday, I attended the 8 PM International Evensong, which was conducted in English. The service consisted of songs, readings, and prayers, with participation by both the clergy and the congregation. There was no Communion. There was a creedal recitation included in the order of service, which I wasn't crazy about, but my reaction to that was simply that I did not participate in that part of it. The reason this service was conducted in English was to accommodate the many tourists who visit Night Church. Of course, late March is not exactly high tourist season in Scandinavia, but to my surprise a steady stream of what I presume to be tourists did come in, watch for a while, and then leave. I was actually rather amazed by all the coming and going--I wouldn't have had enough nerve to just drop in on the middle of a church service and then leave like that. I was sorry to say that the pews were virtually empty of people. Other than the clergy, staff, and choir, and the parade of visitors who came and went, there were only three people who sat through the entire service--myself, my girlfriend, and one other person.
The following Friday, I attended the 10 PM candlelit service. It was conducted in Danish, so I didn't understand much of what was said, but in some ways that might have been a blessing, since I was able to just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the service and the music in the candlelight. The priest, a very tall and slender man with a deep, resonant voice, is the same one who had conducted the International Evensong a week earlier. He may have recognized me from the week before, because after service he asked me where I was from. When I said "San Francisco", he asked me if I lived in Copenhagen now. I said no, and told him I just wanted to check out the service while vacationing. I added that I didn't understand what was said. He laughed and said, "Of course". Danes don't expect foreigners to speak their language.
I really enjoyed the candlelit service a lot. As I left the church walked out into the cold nighttime air, I felt a pleasant glow; I really was glad that I had attended it. If I ever go to Copenhagen again, I will definitely go to the candlelit service at Night Church.