The Temple Church, built around 1160 and consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalam in 1185, has been in the joint care of the Inner and Middle Temples, two of the four legal Inns of Court, for 400 years. It was originally built by the English Knights Templar, to replicate their round mother church on the site of Christ’s Resurrection in Jerusalem. So important was it as a place of spiritual significance that many knights were buried there ( you can see their effigies to this day ) and Thomas a Becket, when Archbishop, granted an indulgence of twenty days to all those who entered it.
The centrality of Jerusalem as the earthly replica of the heavenly kingdom comes through in the Templar liturgy that forms the basis of this recording. It is no coincidence that Jerusalem is the circular city at the centre of the mappa mundi. So to be in London’s Temple Church was, to the mediaeval mind, to be in the actual place for one’s own spiritual enlightenment helped no doubt by the uplifting qualities of singing the daily office, which Bernard of Clairvaux probably helped to compile. The Church retains its special atmosphere to this day and the Chant sounds wonderful in its ancient, round, acoustic – pure, perfect and complete.
Today the Temple Church serves its legal community in many ways. Members of the two Inns may be baptized, married and have their memorial services there. It is justly famous for its own choir of boys and mens voices who sing a high Anglican liturgy every Sunday during the legal terms. Inner Temple calls its students to the Bar there. The organ, the gift of a generous Scottish family, is a four manual Harrison&Harrison from whose loft many recitals are given. It was a popular tourist attraction even before Dan Brown put it on the Da Vinci trail.
The Church has also become a respected venue for the discussion of controversial issues, most notably the compatibility of sharia law with our own secular society. The Templar’s worthy adversaries in the second crusade would probably have approved.