Tried, trusted and traditional hymns

Malcolm Hicks reflects on traditional hymns

Hymns play a large part in our worship at Church, and we all, I am sure, have our preferences. I must confess to being an unrepentant traditionalist: I delight to see piles of the green covered hymn books, the New English Hymnal, for distribution on a Sunday morning, and trust that the numbers posted on the hymn board will yield something stirring from Charles Wesley, or  something equally satisfying from some earnest Victorian who is perhaps but a name to me. And we can all get a sense from the robust response of many others in the congregation that we are not alone.

Jesu lover 2Why should this be?

It’s surely the happy marriage of words and music that is such a source of spiritual and psychological wellbeing (nicely complemented by the moving harmonies of our choir at the time of Mass).

Recollect some of your many first choices. Perhaps the stirring tune of Immortal, Invisible, with its perfect formulation of Divinity, ‘O Lord we would render, O help us to see ‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.’ And then what of the profound effect of those hymns in minor key mode: ‘Eternal Father, strong to save,  Whose arm doth bind the restless wave,’ or ‘Jesu, lover of my soul,  Let me to thy bosom fly’?

The list may not be endless, but it is far too rich a repository to do justice to in a few words. So here’s to the next time that we swell with vocal inspiration once the cryptic number on the board leads to that thrill of recognition of a tried and trusted favourite.

So what is your favourite traditonal hymn? Have you one you would wish to be rescued from oblivion? (You can read one man’s choice by clicking here).

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11 Parish Assistants and counting …

Revd Dr Kim Wasey writes: For over 15 years St Chrysostom’s Church has been welcoming young people to spend a year as a Parish Assistant supporting them in exploring and developing their vocations.

St Chrysostoms Celebrating Vocation Serving the Church

St Chrysostoms
Celebrating Vocation
Serving the Church

Many have completed the selection process during their time with us and 11 of those have been ordained priest or are correctly training for ordination at theological college. Some have discovered priesthood is not the calling for them and have gone to follow other paths with our prayers and good wishes.

We believe this is one of the way St Chrysostom’s serves the wider church. We are not wealthy in monetary terms, but we are wonderfully rich in people and place, and on our inclusive and catholic ethos. By offering that richness to encourage and support parish assistants in their vocation, we are able to share our gifts, through the priests who have gone on to serve the church from Durham to the Isle of Wight.

Through the parish assistant scheme St Chrysostoms gives much and gains much. Each parish assistant brings their own unique gifts, passions, challenges and insights to the role. They inspire us with their commitment and responsiveness to the call of God on their lives.

Keep an eye an that one! Fr Ian and Bishop David looking at the parish assistant display

Keep an eye on that one! Fr Ian and Bishop David looking at the parish assistant display

We journey with each one of them, offering real, grounded experience in the day to day life of a diverse and vibrant multi-cultural urban parish. They have opportunities to work with shelters and hostels, asylum seekers and refugees, mental health projects, and with many who find themselves on the margins of our society. They also gain experience in our parish schools, one of which has over 90% of its children coming from Muslim homes which helps us to really learn to live our faiths together in mutual respect and genuine service. There are university halls too, where assistants take on chaplaincy roles, as well as space to develop their own passions, which have included justice and peace, multi-faith and multi-lingual prayer, children’s creative projects, music, community activities… we are a church with a can do attitude and openness to try new things, which gives parish assistants the chance to explore and flourish, and enriches our life year on year!

Each parish assistant receives the commitment of supervision, a mentor, spiritual direction and support through the discernment process as well as the normals ups and downs of life and the personal development that the placement can offer.

On the journey each parish assistant has become a part of us and our story as St Chrysostom’s, just as we have of theirs, and we pray for them and rejoice with them as they are each ordained.

We celebrate the 11 vocations to the priesthood so far… but we are still counting! we have  Rosie, our parish assistant this year, and we look forward to those we do not yet know, whom God is calling to share their journey towards priesthood with St Chrysostom’s in the years ahead.

PS See comments below for where they are as of October 2014…

And click here for Penny and Oliver telling what they did as Parish Assistants

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Clergy Appreciation Month

Clergy Appreciation

Fr Ian writes

Apparently October is Clergy Appreciation Month. At least it is in the United States, and I’m sure it would do no harm to extend the observation across the Atlantic to England. Undoubtedly it does good to let clergy and their families know you appreciate and affirm them. Many work tirelessly, in difficult and challenging circumstances.

If you want ideas for showing your appreciation there is even a creative guide to help you. Have a look! Click here to read it. 

Looking back I realise that the clergy whom I have appreciated and valued most have been parish clergy who have done their best to love for and care for their people, and to take care with worship and prayer. I appreciate the faithfulness and integrity of a priest like Fr Frank Lumsden who when I was a boy in a remote Teesdale parish inspired me by his gentle loving care. He was a shy man who had come from humble origins to ministry and dedicated himself for many many years in one remote country parish. I appreciate the prayerfullness, example and inspiration which Fr Derek Allen gave me as I considered ordination. A former theological college principal whose quiet, prayerful and loving manner gave him some difficulties at times, later he faithfully, with energy, and openness to God’s spirit served as a parish priest in a busy Eastbourne parish.


Now as an Area Dean as I see my sister and brother clergy in our very deprived deanery I am very encouraged when I see the love, prayer and care they give to their people and parishes. Thank you to them. Many of our parishes struggle in difficult circumstances yet many of the clergy work tirelessly in them often encouraging others, caring for them and in it all maintaining a personal good spirit.

Times change and in some places there seems a loss of sense of purpose within the Church. As with many secular institutions words such as reorganisation, strategies, leadership, vision, management, training courses… are much more commonly found on agendas than once they were. Some of these will get in the way of the day to day work, prayer and care of clergy, some help.

Whatever, in this Clergy Appreciation Month, I want to say thank you and say how much I appreciate the faithfulness, self sacrifice, pastoral care and prayer of so many parish clergy in the Church of England, and I hope many people will express their appreciation and encouragement to parish clergy.

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We love the place, O Lord

Conyngh rd 2St Chrysostom’s Church is loved by many people, not only by regular worshippers but also by visitors, those with connections here, and people of our community. As we approach the day when we thank God for our church building and celebrate its ‘birthday’ here is a selection of Haiku five different people have written about St Chrysostom’s:

Within these stone walls
The Architect of my soul
Quietly visits me
Our house: the roof is thick
Within, the fire and family
That draw us back
Look at the windows
Look how colourful they are
Go on, see yourself
Benn 2
On days when the world
Has been brusque with me, and cold
Here, a sancturay
In this green parish
Urban pilgrims can find peace.
All are welcome here.



These haiku come from ‘A selection of haiku for St Chrysostom’s Church’ available from Church.

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Celebrating 137 Years

St Chrysostom's in the nineteenth century

St Chrysostom’s in the nineteenth century

We’re coming up to St Chrysostom’s Church’s birthday, and in  preparation for this we have two posts on our church blog. First of all, about the consecration itself

St Chrysostom's Foundation Stone  Have you seen it?

St Chrysostom’s Foundation Stone
Have you seen it?

By the 1870s Victoria Park and the local area had grown so much that it was decided it needed its own church. The site had been allocated in the original Victoria Park plans of 1836 but it wasn’t until 40 years later that building began upon it. On Friday 18th 1874 Sir William Reynell Anson laid the foundation stone in the presence of the Bishop of Manchester and other dignitaries. By 1875 a portion of the church had been completed and was used for worship and by 1877 the Church was ready for consecration. 

At 11.30am on Saturday October 13th 1877 Bishop James Fraser consecrated the new building and preached a sermon on Christian Tolerance which was widely quoted at the time.

The Manchester Courier's account of the Consecration

The Manchester Courier’s
account of the Consecration

At the end of his sermon the Bishop told the congregation £990 was still needed to defray the total cost of the Church, which, inclusive of building, furnishings and site had amounted to £13,000. Two generous members of the congregation immediately met that shortfall.

The immediate area around the church at the time housed people of wealth, but the parish also served narrow terrace houses nearby – from its foundation it served a population new to Manchester, some wealthy, some poor, some seeking a new future. Many of the families came from countries other than England. From the beginning St Chrysostom’s welcomed a wide variety of people from differing backgrounds and cultures.

Today St Chrysostom’s continues to rejoice in variety and take prides in its welcome. Long may it continue.

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Poetic angels

Angel 1

Angel from Angels window in St Chrysostoms Church

National Poetry Day and the Feast of the Guardian Angels coincide today.

Now there’s a wonderful challenge! Have you a poem about Angels you’d nominate as special to you? Well I’d have to mention Edmund Sears’ It Came upon the Midnight Clear  not wonderful poetry but evocative, well known and easy to remember.

So apt for our world (though in rather gender specific language) are the lines:

And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

Angel 2A nomination to fit both categories for today is Rabrindanath Tagore’s The Child Angel. Again apt for our world today, echoing the Gospel account of Jesus placing a child in the midst of  arguing people, the poem also encourages us to find insight in the humble child in the everyday world around us.

They clamour and fight, they doubt and despair, they know no end to their wranglings.
Let your life come amongst them like a flame of light, my child, unflickering and pure,
and delight them into silence.
They are cruel in their greed and their envy,
their words are like hidden knives thirsting for blood.
Go and stand amidst their scowling hearts, my child,
and let your gentle eyes fall upon them like the forgiving peace of the evening over the strife of the day.
Let them see your face, my child,
and thus know the meaning of all things; let them love you and thus love each other.
Come and take your seat in the bosom of the limitless, my child.
At sunrise open and raise your heart like a blossoming flower,
and at sunset bend your head and in silence complete the worship of the day.
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The 2014 Angel Quiz

Each year Fr Ian prepares a quiz on the theme of angels for a priests’ gathering at Michaelmas. Here is the one for 2014. At the quiz itself points are given for humorous, if wrong, answers, as well as correct answers. Why not have a go? (Apologies that some of the questions are very UK oriented)

399px-Persian_angel_1555Answers will be given below in a week’s time.

  1. Which popular hymn contains this seldom sung verse, and how does the verse end?
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,   ……..

 2. Who according to tradition may weigh your soul on the last day of judgement?


3. a) Who in tradition, will have sounded the trumpet on the last day of judgement? and b) Which religious group believe the archangel Gabriel lived a mortal life as Noah?

4. Which Archangel has the same name as a teenage mutant ninja turtle?

5. Which Archangel, according to some ancient Christian traditions, rescues John the Baptist from the massacre of the Innocents?

13855-angel-musicians-left-panel-hans-memling6  All the following are Angelas, who are they?

i) The Shadow leader of the House of Commons

ii) The actor who plays the fictional detective of Cabots Cove

iii) A former researcher in physical chemistry and now leading world politician

7.  On which London underground line is Angel station situated?

8. Who sang:

And I said, “Fly on my sweet angel,
Fly on through the sky,
Fly on my sweet angel,
Tomorrow I’m gonna be by your side” 

 9. In which modern novel by a leading Catholic author do these words appear

“I know–from experience–how much beauty Satan carried down with him when he fell. Nobody ever said the fallen angels were the ugly ones. Oh, no, they were just as quick and light”

10. Whose final sermon contained these words:

“Thank God I’m nearer home today than I’ve ever been, Home sweet home where Jesus is, where the great apostles are, where the mighty angels are, where all our blood-washed friends are.”

Want to try some more? Try the 2010, 2011, and 2013 Angel quizzes!

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