Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The precentor and the dragon

What is a precentor? Give up? A precentor is a senior official of a cathedral or other large ecclesiastical establishment. It is a minor part of our European Christian background and culture so I like to know about such things. The precentor originally led the singing and he is still usually in charge of a cathedral's musical affairs -- though he also is a senior administrator generally -- often the next down in seniority to the Dean.

I met a precentor last Sunday. Anne and were were in town for a stroll and noticed a service in progress at the metropolitical cathedral of St John (Anglican) so we popped in for a biscuit and a sip of wine. (Just joking! Atheists don't take communion). Anyway the music was good, the service was delightfully mediaeval and we had a quick chat with the precentor afterwards. In the absence of the Dean (who was over at the CATHOLIC cathedral in some good cause!) the Precentor celebrated the Eucharist so also had hand-shaking duties afterwards.

I must admit that I was a bit fuzzy about what precentors actually did -- partly because the duties of precentors do vary -- so I was pleased to meet a live one and find out what he did. He was indeed 2IC to the Dean.

After church we strolled down to the Botanical Gardens for another sit-down and had a very fat dragon (an 18" long lizard) come up to us in an apparent quest for food. A very pleasant Sunday morning!


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