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St Bride's was full on Sunday, September 25, for the 'Bright and Beautiful' service to celebrate the internal restoration of the church, now that the confection of scaffolding was gone and it could gleam again.
'Beauty for Ashes' was the apt description of the rebuilt Wren masterpiece on its rededication in 1957, after Hitler's bombs had done their worst. This time, the remedial work did not need to be as extensive, though the refurbishment, which took three months after Easter to complete, revealed results that were no less than stunning.
Sublime music played its traditional St Bride's role in this special act of worship, notably in the superb rendition of Mozart's Coronation Mass by the St Bride's Choir and Orchestra, conducted by Matthew Morley and led by John Ryan.
One first-time visitor had been transfixed. 'Life comprises experiences,' she said. 'This was one of them. I am so pleased I came in.'
The hymns, sung with gusto, were selected by a vote of the congregation - Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, My Song is Love Unknown and O Jesus, I Have Promised.
The Rector, in her reflective sermon, spoke of the latest 'legacy beyond price' being bestowed by those who had 'invested generously, graciously and selflessly in the future of the church for the benefit of generations to come,' touching on the spirit of healing and hope that the St Bride's community had projected through such challenges as the Great Plague, the Great Fire and the destruction wrought by the Second World War.
The memorable service over, the uplifted congregation moved into the churchyard to raise a glass to the fact that this repository of Christian witness and worship for some 1,500 years had been restored to pristine glory.