Standing next to the barriers at the edge of the crime scene in Boston’s Back Bay, dozens of somber Trinity Church members lifted their voices on Thursday night.
“America, America,” they sang, “God shed his grace on thee.”
Unable to enter their landmark Copley Square church since the Monday bombings, these clergy, staff, and congregants gathered down Boylston Street to sing and pray beside police cordons.
“For the past couple of days, I’ve been trying to get back home to the church, and it’s been hard not being able to get back to it,” said congregation member Ian Stewart.
Stewart, 35, said he was only blocks away when the explosives detonated Monday, and he witnessed some of the horror. Since then, he has longed to be among this community.
“Trinity really has become my spiritual home,” he said.
Standing not at an altar but in a crowded street, priests led the Episcopal congregation in a prayer called “A Litany of Healing and Hope.’’
“For those who lost their lives in the explosions, Martin, Krystle, and Lingzi, that they may rest in your peace; and for the families and friends who grieve their deaths,” they prayed, naming the three victims of the bombing by first name.
“Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer,” the congregation responded.
The Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, priest in charge at Trinity, said no one from the church had been injured Monday, but its members were deeply shaken by the bombings.
“They’re OK, and they’re going to be fine, but in many ways this is a distant echo of 9/11, reminding them that they’re not safe,” said Lloyd, 62. “My job as a pastor is to see that people are in touch with the depth of God’s presence at a time like this.”
Church members had hoped Copley Square would be open by Wednesday night, when Trinity holds a weekly choral prayer service. When the square remained closed Thursday afternoon, Trinity organized the outside gathering at Boylston and Berkeley streets, beside a makeshift memorial of flowers, handmade signs, and a piece of Boston Marathon fencing, its pickets painted red and white, with white stars on a blue square in the corner: an American flag.
At the service’s end, many stopped to shake Lloyd’s hand or hug him.
“Thank you,” they said. “We needed this.”