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acted as celebrant, being assisted by several priests and the two little deacons.
From our high position we were enabled to see every act of the priests, though they were hidden from the sight of the people by the high screen between them. They walked round the altar several times in succession, and at the act of the Consecration every man in the church removed his turban, and bowed lowly to the ground.
In the Coptic Church the Holy Communion is administered to children; and the little boys who assisted the Patriarch at the altar received the Blessed Sacrament immediately after the priests.
There were a few Communicants among the congregation, who went up in turn to the door of the screen; and as they stood there, the priests placed the Bread in their mouths, and administered the Wine with a golden spoon, which he dipped into the chalice. The Patriarch alone put the cup to his mouth.
The service was very long, from so much of it being read in the two languages, Copt and Arabic; but, in spite of its great length, we were much interested, and were greatly edified by the devotion of the people, who joined heartily in the Creed and the responses, without book. We waited till all was over, and then saw the departure of the Patriarch, which was more like a scene from the Bible than one of modern days. He rode away on a fine large Egyptian ass, enveloped in a black satin cloak, with a high black turban on his head; and as he passed through the narrow streets, narrower than the worst 'viccola’ in Naples, crowds of men and women clung to him, asking for his blessing, kissing his hand, and even his very dress itself. As we watched their enthusiastic greeting, and beheld them pressing impetuously around him on all sides, even so as to impede his progress, it made one so thoroughly realize the accounts we read of the crowds that thronged around our blessed Lord and touched His garments as He went on His way through the streets of Jerusalem.
Before quitting this most amusing and interesting city, we paid a visit to the Copt quarter in Fostat, or old Cairo, where are two most curious old churches. The Copts here seem to be of a lower grade, and poorer than their brethren in Cairo itself; the priests especially were a wretched set of people, quite of the lowest order, and were sitting in the cafés, smoking and drinking their coffee with the common people. passed through the narrow alleys, the women sometimes came up to us and asked if we were not Christians, and made us the usual Eastern salaam, which consists of touching the forehead, the lips, and the breast with the tips of the fingers, saying at the same time, in Arabic, "The Lord be with you.'
At the end of a long stone passage we found one of the churches we were in search of—a curious old place, supposed to be of the third or fourth century. Here, as in all Greek or Copt churches, there was a screen dividing the nave from the sanctuary, so as to conceal the altar.
It was made of cedar wood, carved and inlaid with ivory-very handsome work, peculiar, I believe, to Egypt. At the time of our visit Vespers were being said, or at least what we believed to be Vespers. There was no one present but the two officiating priests and a very dirty little boy, who were chanting in a most monotonous tone from a large book placed on the lectern, a lighted taper by its side. The arrival of a party of strangers was too important an event to be neglected, in spite of the service; and, reading as hard as he could all the time, one of the priests lighted a candle from the burning taper, and put it into the hands of the other priest, signing to him to show us over the church, which is adorned with some curious old Byzantine pictures. The sweet smell of the incense took one by surprise, in this dilapidated out-of-the-way place: the floor was covered with the dirtiest matting; a look of decay and poverty was on everything; the priests were in wretched-looking vestments, and the boy as dirty as only an Eastern boy can be.
The church was supported by columns, evidently of a very early period, against which were hung pictures, either of the Blessed Virgin or of St. George, the patron saint of the Copts. Our attendant priest was not inclined to be communicative, for in the first place all he told us of themselves or their services had to be interpreted to us by a Mahometan dragoman, and also, as he owned after having shewn us a picture with a miraculous legend attached to it, it was of no use telling anything to English people, for they beliered nothing!
I need not describe the other old Coptic church we went to see, as it was so similar it needs no description. Its great interest consists in its crypt, which is said to be the oldest church in Christendom, and tradition adds, is built on the site of the house occupied by the Holy Family during their stay in Egypt. A flight of stone steps leads from the church above, and down these we descended with lighted tapers, but unfortunately we could not get far, for the waters of the Nile, which had risen to an unusual height that autumn, had inundated the little crypt, and were still too high to allow us the power of seeing more than the vaulted roof, and the tops of the stone columns which supported the roof. It was but little to see, but the thoughts and feelings to which it gave rise were not the less interesting ; for here we could picture to ourselves the Holy Family in the same oriental garb, with the same appearance of poverty as that by which we were surrounded, bowing down in reverence and love before the Holy Child, the Christ—that Christ of whom these poor Copts have been for centuries past the firm and faithful worshippers.
MISSION WORK AT HOME.
OVER THE WATER-ST. LUKE'S MISSION, DEPTFORD.
FROM the time when King Henry VIII. established a dock-yard at Deptford, in the county of Kent and the hundred of Blackheath, that town has had its share in events connected with the history of England, or rather perhaps we ought to say, of England's navy.
Here have been built and launched some of the noblest of those wooden walls of old England,' which are gradually becoming things of the past, and giving way to the “iron-clad,' but ugly substitute of modern times.
Here are docks for the building and repair of ships; stores for the use of the fleet; and the Trinity House, for regulating all matters relating to the lighting of vessels, the placing of buoys, and the duties of pilots.
Here for a time resided at Sayes Court the illustrious founder of St. Petersburg, Peter the Great, while studying the building and equipping of ships, and taking his part as a workman in the dockyard and the rope-walk, &c. It was during this residence that John Evelyn's servant wrote to him, “There is a house-full of people, and right nasty. The Czar lies next your library, and dines in the parlour next your study. He dines at ten o'clock and six at night, is very seldom at home a whole day, very often in the King's yard, or by water, dressed in several dresses. The King' (William III.) ‘is expected here this day; the best parlour is pretty clean for him to be entertained in. The King pays for all he has.'
But another memory far dearer to Churchmen is connected with Deptford and Sayes Court. Here resided the good John Evelyn, who dared to be faithful to the Church in her days of trouble and persecution, and to adhere to the Services of the Prayer-book when those Services had been abolished by law. When imprisonment and exile were the punishment of the Church of England clergy who dared either to preach or administer Sacraments, and fines and other penalties were inflicted upon those who took part in such services, the proscribed Offices were held in the library of Sayes Court, conducted by Mr. Owen, the sequestered minister of Eltham. Here John Evelyn's children were admitted into the Church in Holy Baptism; and here the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered to the little household. Here, when the order of Parliament was issued, (still preserved in the British Museum,) directing that “No observation shall be had of the five-andtwentieth day of December, commonly called Christmas Day, nor any solemnity exercised in churches in respect thereof,' John Evelyn and his household were constrained to observe it at home.' Here, too, when the good custom of the afternoon catechizing, for which King Edward
VI. and Archbishop Cranmer had been so careful to make provision, had ceased, John Evelyn says, 'On Sunday afternoon I frequently staid at home to catechize and instruct my family, these exercises universally ceasing in the parish churches, so as people had no principles, and grew very ignorant of even the common points of Christianity.'
Perhaps had there been more John Evelyns in those dark days to maintain the offices of the Church and carry out her instruction, the afternoon catechizing, which never seems thoroughly to have regained its place after the Restoration, but to which, in earlier times, such minds as George Herbert and Richard Hooker had gladly devoted themselves, might have been maintained, and it would not have been left to succeeding generations to lament that in our large towns the masses of the people were “very ignorant of even the common points of Christianity.'
The dwelling-house of Sayes Court is still in existence. It is now, with its adjacent ground, within the enclosure of the Royal dock-yard; but the oval garden, the mount walk, and the hither holly hedge,' (through which the Czar so ruthlessly trundled his wheelbarrow every morning,) which John Evelyn speaks of as a 'glorious and refreshing object, an impregnable hedge, about four hundred feet in length, nine feet high, and five in diameter, glittering with its armed and variegated leaves, the taller standards, at orderly distances, blushing with their natural coral,' have all disappeared.
A descendant of John Evelyn's still owns a portion of the neighbouring property, and it is the present representative of that family, William John Evelyn, Esq., the Lord of the Manor, who has given the site for the Church and Parsonage of St. Luke's, Deptford, the Mission District on behalf of which we would now seek to enlist the interest and sympathy of our readers; for it is of the present we would speak rather than of the past, and before that 'living present' all historical associations fade away. What, indeed, are all the memories of the past, compared with the souls that have to be sought for and won and watched over now in this nineteenth century? For here, where the enclosures, the gardens, and the orchards, occupying in all one hundred acres, were once laid out, thousands of souls are now gathered together, labouring, some of them, at the humblest of occupations, and alas! too often in danger of neglecting, in the daily struggle for the meat that perisheth, that which endureth unto everlasting life.
First let us give the statistics of the Mission itself. The large and rapidly increasing parish of St. Paul, Deptford, of which, in 1699, Evelyn wrote, “At Deptford they have been building a pretty new church, contains now a population of 20,300 souls; and in the northwestern portion of this parish a mission has been established for a district comprising a population of about 5,000, a Missionary Clergyman being sent by the Bishop of London's Fund.
The population of this district are not crowded together in the space of comparatively a few acres, as is the case in some parts of London.
On the contrary, the mission district is 'outspread to some distance by intervening market-gardens and wharves, extending for some length along each side of the Lower Road, Deptford, to the junction of the parish with Rotherhithe, and in some parts is quite a mile from any existing church. Its people are chiefly of the humbler labouring class ; many are engaged in cutting the wood which is used so extensively in the lighting of fires in the Metropolis, the largest establishments of the kind in London being here; others are workers on the market-gardens, the produce of which is sent to the Borough and Covent Garden markets ; others again are employed in tar distilleries and chemical works, and as bargemen and labourers in connection with the Commercial Timber Docks and the Grand Surrey Canal; whilst the remainder are either mechanics, small shop-keepers, or employés of Government in the Royal Dock and Victoria Victualling Yards, alongside of which a portion of the proposed district runs.
"A small Baptist chapel which had fallen into disuse, in the Black Horse Fields, not far from the site of the proposed permanent Church, was transferred by its trustees to the Bishop of London's Fund. The Fund liberally provided for its repair, and it was opened in March, 1867, as St. Luke's Temporary Church.'
It was soon attended by a numerous congregation, averaging in the morning 156 adults, and in the evening 218. "The children attending the services have been intentionally omitted from this enumeration, but they form a large addition to the congregation.'
"The temporary Church is now filled on the Sunday mornings, and crowded to excess on Sunday evenings; and so limited is the accommodation for the fast increasing population, that the tradespeople and working-men in the district have taken up the cause very earnestly, and notwithstanding the depression of trade here, in the last six months nobly contributed about £400 towards raising the permanent Church. At their preliminary meeting in the Mission Church, about £70 was subscribed.
"Sites for Church and Parsonage-house have been given by William John Evelyn, Esq., the Lord of the Manor; and should a church be erected, it would, we feel persuaded, be a worthy “MEMORIAL" to the good and unflinching Churchman of the seventeenth century, the venerated ancestor and namesake of the generous donor of the sites, whose ancient manorial residence of Sayes Court was not far from the present mission district.
“As the expiry lease of the temporary Church in which the work has been so happily begun is very limited, and as the spiritual exigencies of the population is so great and urgent, we confidently appeal for aid, in order that we may soon see a plain yet substantial structure reared, in which “ the everlasting Gospel” may be preached in all its simplicity and power, and in which the ministrations of the Church of England may prove to the present and future generations living around a stream of vital and continuous blessing.'
Such is the appeal on behalf of a permanent Church, now being circu