01 Apr

The 78th Service of the United Guilds of the City of London ( to give it its full title) took place in St. Paul’s Cathedral on a very sunny,  cold and windy Friday April 1st. This was the first service since 2019 and it was wonderful to walk into a packed St. Paul’s. The service first took place in 1943 and the original idea was to help lift the spirit of the City following the Blitz, and as a reminder of the religious origins of the Guilds. Virtually all the Livery Companies and Guilds were represented, and our Company pew was fully occupied, with consorts sitting under the dome. The service began with a procession, and it was useful to see in the Order of Service the list of who everyone in the procession was, from clergy, Alderman,  a selection of Masters, including our own, Sheriffs, Ward Beadles and other City officials, all splendidly robed. The rear was brought up with The Swordbearer carrying the ancient sword of the City with The Lord Mayor walking behind. The music from the organ and trumpeters was outstanding and the singing from the Choir was sublime. We heard two Lessons, both about the growth of Cities from the Old and New Testaments. The sermon was preached by The Rt.Rev. Humphrey Southern, Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford, and was really though-provoking, about our return to the City and how we must also think of what is happening in the cities of Ukraine. A selection of responsive and relevant prayers followed, including one for strength and courage for the people of Ukraine.  Following a final blessing from the Bishop of London and a rousing rendition of two verses of the National Anthem, it was back outside – there was a small crowd who must have wondered who all these people in gowns were! We walked to Plaisterers’ Hall, where over 200 of us were entertained to a delicious lunch – marvellous hospitality and we all said that we really feel we are now back.

Michael Shapiro