One of the highlights of last year has to be being asked by my friend Duncan Middleton (Titulaire of Notre Dame de France) to cover for him as organist for a few weekends over the summer! In the hustle and bustle of central London, just off Leicester Square lies Notre Dame de France aka ‘The French Church’ (and home to the Marist Fathers) as it is commonly known – an oasis of peace and tranquility, a house of prayer and solace and also home to a very well established refugee centre! Enter this building at any time of day and you will see countless people, business women, clergy, musicians and a number of homeless people who have taken up a pew and fallen asleep in such comfort that they snore before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament – how wonderful!! It’s so invigorating to see a church community that is not at all precious about who is left in the building or what may or may not happen or whether people enter to worship, hear improvisation during mass or simply fall asleep during their lunch break! At Notre Dame, it seems as though they work on the basis of total trust, in a world where ownership and fear have such a stronghold.
There really is nothing like going into the city, entering the silence of this place, taking a few moments with my brothers and sisters before God in prayer before climbing the steps to one of the most powerful organs in England to give my humble offering to God in improvisation and accompaniment. As long as I live, I hope Notre Dame de France lives too! If you haven’t been to visit – GO!