If you had been anywhere near the southern end of London Bridge… [recently], you might well have seen an unusual crowd of people emerging from one of the city’s oldest places of worship, Southwark (pronounced Suthark) Cathedral. Not just robed clerics from the Anglican and other churches and representatives of other faiths: there were also medical students of many ethnic and religious backgrounds and some of their teachers, plus a larger group of Londoners who were moved by the proceedings even if they did not very often frequent cathedrals.
What took place today was an annual service of thanksgiving, established in recent years to commemorate people who donate their bodies for medical teaching and research. For the families of some donors, it may be the first opportunity they have to acknowledge and celebrate their loved ones in a public setting. The service was in some ways quite conventional, with cosy old Anglican hymns such as “For all the saints, who from their labours rest…” But it also had some original features; medical students walked forward with flowers as a choir sang a “Funeral Ikos” or an anthem by the late Sir John Tavener, a religious composer who converted to Orthodox Christianity and was also interested in Sufism.