St Ambrose: Reform and Repair

St Ambrose (feast day 7th December) is one of the saints of St Chrysostom’s stained glass windows. His window is high in the apse of the church above the altar.

The St Ambrose window in St Chrysostom's

The St Ambrose window in St Chrysostom’s

Born in Gaul in 340 Ambrose became Bishop of Milan in 374, by popular acclamation. Though a Christian he hadn’t been baptised and so he was baptised and ordained on the same day (7th December). Ambrose began by sharing his wealth with the needy of his diocese, and he spoke and taught with great authority, helping people understand the beauty and simplicity of the faith. He was largely responsible for the conversion of St Augustine to Christian faith.

Ambrose reformed the worship of his areas and encouraged a high standard in music in the church. His standards were not just for choirs, but for all the people. He is believed to be the first writer of Christian hymns which rhyme.

Reform, and repair, are necessary in the Church and indeed they are necessities of our lives. Ambrose’s example reminds us that reform is not innovation but rather a restating of basic original truths, re-‘forming’ them. So much of wonder and beauty has been passed to us in our heritage. It is a joy of the Christian to delight in the treasures received – the stories of our faith, the music, the traditions – all of which shape, strengthen and inspire.

 

Hold fast to the rudder of faith, that you may not be shaken by the heavy storms of this world. The sea, indeed is vast and deep, but do not fear. (from the Letters of Ambrose)

Come, very Sun of heaven’s love,
in lasting radiance from above,
and pour the Holy Spirit’s ray
on all we think or do today.

(From Splendor paternae, St Ambrose)

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St Andrew’s Day Quiz

Here’s a light hearted quiz for St Andrew’s day (November 30th). Why not have a go? It was compiled for a group of Church of England priests so apologies to none UK readers!

1 “As of old, Saint Andrew heard it By the Galilean lake…” Is a line from which hymn, and who wrote it?

2 St Andrew is named Andrew the Protoclete in Greek Orthodoxy, what does Protoclete mean?

3 Where were Andrew Ketterley, and his nephew Diggory Kirke, two of the first people to set foot?

4 Can you arrange these English Church dedications in order of frequency, from most to least? (From Studies in English Church Dedications)

StPaul, St Andrew, Holy Trinity, St John Baptist

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Can you identify these ‘Andrews’?

5. One of the most prestigious UK awards for a children’s book is named after an  American philanthropist. Who was he?

6.  In 1361, Edward III moved his storehouse for Royal arms and clothing and other personal items of the Crown from the Tower of London to a location near to which City of London Church?

7. At the beginning of the film Toy Story which two toys compete for the affections of Andy?

8. Which former Archbishop of Canterbury wrote: “Who shall say that Peter himself did more for his Lord than Andrew who brought Peter to him? It is ever so. We never know who is doing the greatest work for God.”

9.Who said: “I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has: but I am a great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit.”

10.  How old is Prince Andrew?  and what number is he in succession to the British throne?

(The answers are posted in a few days time in the comments, below)

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Why we come to St C’s

We recently invited four different people to speak at Mass to tell us why they like coming to St Chrysostom’s. We got some lovely and encouraging responses. Here are three; from Kevin, Tayo and Alice, a junior member of Church.

kevin-uHi, my name is Kevin and I was born and raised in Malaysia. I’ve been in St. Chrysostom’s for about a year now and I have to say that I really enjoyed my time here. I still remember the first time I came to this church, it was when the church was celebrating its 138th birthday. I remembered that we had lots of food after mass that day. Although I might’ve returned the following week because of the food, I stayed on because there was something that felt right about this church and I felt welcomed. The mass was very different from the ones I attended in Malaysia, but I enjoyed it. I find peace and rest in the presence of God, and the mass, for me is a quiet time of reflection and above all, a reminder that I’m God’s beloved child.

I also really enjoyed the time and conversations we have after mass, the smiles on people’s faces and the interesting stories  I would hear over a nice cup of  tea. And not to mention my time serving at the altar, it has been an enjoyable experience! Last but not least, this church had also showed me great support as a community. I remember  Sister Lynfa always prayed for me whenever I had an exam, and she probably knew my exam timetable better than I do! Being far away from home, I can say that St Chrysostom’s has really become my home away from home, and I truly felt the support and care given by the community here in St. Chrysostom’s, which is why I’d love to stay in this church  for the years to come.

Alice said: I like going to St. Chrysostom’s because of the Sunday school classes and I like just going, talking and being with my friends. I like the Sunday school lessons because they are fun and interesting. In Sunday school we do things like puzzles and crosswords after we have read the main reading and answer a few questions. St. Chrysostom’s is fun because they do lots of fun activities.For example treasure hunts and making fun interesting things.

tayo-1Tayo said: This morning I’ve travelled 60 miles to be here! and why have I done that? Why do I like coming here to St Chrysostom’s? I love being part of this church. Where else could I meet together with such a wide range of people from different countries and backgrounds, ages and experiences  and for us all to be together. I enjoy the welcome and friendliness of St Chrysostom’s. The people I work with are usually from similar educational and cultural backgrounds, when I come to church my contacts are enlarged and I make all kinds of different friends. I appreciate the stillness, holiness and beauty of the worship here. Here my spiritual batteries are recharged giving me strength for the coming week.

And to read what Edward said click here. Thank you so much to all four.

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One priest’s choice of funeral hymns

For the third blog post on choices of funeral hymns we look at one person’s choice in detail. We’ve had some choices from clergy and some of bishops now we focus, with a little more detail on one priest’s choice.

troyte-1-uThe choice of hymns for funerals reflect the times, and, of course, they reflect the personality and preferences of the people choosing them. For his funeral, the Revd Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) requested The Saints of God, their conflict past (to the tune REST by Stainer) and My God, My Father, While I Stray  (to the tune TROYTE, No. 1). Both represented a personal choice, and reflected Dodgson’s spirituality. Although in Dodgson’s day these were modern hymns neither would be common choices today, indeed neither are found in modern hymn books.

oc-2In a recent article the distinguished Roman Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins SJ gives his choice of hymns for his requiem mass. It is an interesting, personal and helpful selection. In his discussion of his choices Fr O’Collins has the preferences of family and friends, and himself, in mind.

Entrance hymn: I heard the voice of Jesus Say to be sung to KINGSFOLD. O’Collins comments this is seldom sung at funerals, and he’d like to see it as a ‘parting gift to family and friends.’

For the psalm: The Lord’s my Shepherd to CRIMOND. (To put people ‘back on familiar ground.’)

oc-uAt the offertory: Morning has broken as ‘we look forward to God’s recreation of the new day.’

Communion Hymn: Magnificat sung as Tell out my soul by Timothy Dudley-Smith. A version which reflects the ‘radiant joy of the Virgin Mary.’

Song of Farewell: Come to his aid, O saints of God sung to AMAZING GRACE (for words see below)

and finally, as the resurrection has been the theme of many of his books O’Collins chooses as a recessional hymn Thine be the Glory, risen, conquering Son.

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Bishops’ choices of funeral hymns

contak-uIn 1901 Archbishop Randall Davidson successfully vetoed the request made by the Royal Family that the Russian Kontakion for the departed should be sung at Queen Victoria’s funeral. He was concerned that it would give approval to what he saw as the questionable practice of praying for the dead.

Times, and outlooks change. Later in the twentieth century the Kontakion was sung at the funeral of Bishop Trevor Huddleston, and indeed at a funeral of an Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey.

The choice of hymns by Church of England Bishops for their funerals is, of course, varied. This variety encourages all to reflect on the nature and choice of funeral hymns. Some of the hymns reflect devotional favourites of the Bishop. For example Bishop Westcott’s choice of O God our help in ages past and Archbishop Cyril Garbett’s choice of Jesu, grant me this I pray were hymns the bishops said they used regularly in personal devotion.

The Lord’s my Shepherd is often sung at funerals, but not, it seems, at bishops’ funerals. However, other translations of Psalm 23 have been used. Bishop John Robinson chose Joseph Addison’s notable translation, The Lord my Pasture shall prepare, while Bishop Kenneth Kirk and Arcbishop Garbett chose The King of Love my shepherd is.

kgkp-uPerhaps not surprisingly, the beautiful poems of the priest and poet George Herbert feature strongly in the bishops’ choices. Bishop David Jenkins and Bishop Kenneth Stevenson both chose King of Glory, King of Peace, while Bishop John Robinson chose Let all the world in every corner sing. Bishop Kenneth Stevenson asked that Herbert’s Listen, Sweet Dove, unto my song,  (‘Whitsunday’ from The Temple) be read out. The poem has yet to be set to music successfully as a hymn.

Hymns of Praise are popular choices. Bishop Kirk had Praise my Soul the King of Heaven, Archbishop Robert Runcie and Bishop David Jenkins had Praise to the Holiest, and Archbishop Garbett chose Let saints on earth in concert sing. Archbishop William Temple chose the Easter hymn of praise The strife is o’er.

Some hymns, are particularly personal, for example, Bishop Alfred Blunt’s funeral included O Thou not made with hands, a favourite from his schooldays, and Bishop Trevor Huddleston had Jesus, Son of Mary translated from the Swahili, reflecting his ministry in South Africa.

Undoubtedly some current bishops will have hymns in mind. One bishop we asked, who said he’d rather not be named, as his choice regularly changes, offered: All my hope on God is founded, (also a choice of Bishop Kenneth Stevenson), Love’s redeeming work is done and We shall go out with hope of resurrection.

day-thou-uAnd let the final word be with our own Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, who kindly informs us of his current choices: 

I heard the voice of Jesus say, Thine be the glory, and The day thou gavest Lord is ended (a choice also of Archbishop Robert Runcie).

This is the second in our blog series on hymn choices for funerals, for choices of a selection of clergy click here and for the choice of a well known RC priest, Fr Gerald O’Collins click here.

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Will your anchor hold?

Hannah, Parish Assistant reflects on the story of St Clement (Feast Day 23rd November).

Stained glass window from Church of St Clement, Jersey

Stained glass window from Church of St Clement, Jersey

Clement, believed to be a disciple of St. Peter and of St. Paul, is best known as the fourth Pope and for his Epistle to the Corinthians, an insight into the early Church’s ministry and preserving peace to the Corinthians. Little is known of him beyond a few facts, but it is the story of his death which led me to deeper reflection:

About 110 A.D. Clement was sentenced to a martyr’s death in the arena by the Emperor Trajan. According to a fourth century story, Trajan had banished the pope to the Crimea in the southern Ukraine because of his success in evangelization. The people of the country were converted and seventyfive churches built. A frustrated Trajan then ordered Clement to be thrown into the sea with an iron anchor.  But he had an impact even after his martyrdom because the tide receded two miles every year, finally, revealing a divinely built shrine which contains the martyr’s bones

In works of art, St Clement can be recognized having an anchor at his side (similar to the photo above). There are a variety of symbols in the Christian tradition, such as, the cross, fish (icthus), chi rho, and doves. Symbols allow us to create imagery around our faith. They allow us to go beyond the written word and use creativity and simplistic beauty to capture truth.

Anchors have been a Christian symbol for many years. I have seen the anchor symbol in churches and Christian settings, but I have never connected the anchor to anything beyond the scripture found in Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

For sailors, an anchor is used as stability and security during stormy weather and large waves. Similar to sailors, the anchor is a symbol for us of Christ’s unfailing hope and faithfulness.

For me, life is like a journey at sea, moments of calm wind and moments of wild weather. Sometimes we have control over the direction of the ship, but many times we don’t. In those moments, I drop the anchor on the side of the ship and look for hope. During the times of darkness, stress, and hardship, Christ’s love can calm the toughest waters. In the story of Saint Clement’s death, he is thrown into the sea with an anchor and drowns, and every year a beautiful shrine appears. Even in the dark moment, there is a glimmer of beauty and hope.

Here is a link to a You tube recording of the old hymn ‘Will your anchor hold’ which echoes many of Hannah’s thoughts
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A Year without Summer

Is this not a precious home for us earthlings? Is it not worth our love? … I would like to hope against hope that the Church of England might turn from its preoccupation with its own structures, its own liturgical and doctrinal quarrels, even its own identity, and discover anew, a theology of creation. Prophetic words from a sermon given by Bishop Trevor Huddleston in Oxford in 1983.

littleportriot1

Rioters at Littleport, Cambridgeshire 1816

Two hundred years ago, in 1816, the world experienced the Year without a Summer. Severe frosts were noted as late as mid June, the sky was always grey. Crops failed, prices rose, millions in Europe and North America suffered hunger, disease, famine and displacement. Food shortages led to social instability, with violent social protest springing up throughout Europe. In England labourers rioted, carrying banners with the slogan ‘Bread or Blood’. Jails were overflowing and many were executed or deported. A major typhoid epidemic broke out in Ireland and in India the summer monsoon was severely delayed leading to the outbreak of a new strain of cholera which spread from Bengal to Moscow.

laufmscThere were unusual side effects. The loss of grain led to a deficiency in feed for horses, causing a lack of transport. Karl von Drais invented a ‘Laufmaschine’ the precursor of the modern bicycle, to address the problem.

Sheltering in the unseasonable weather conditions by Lake Geneva Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and John William Polidori, challenged one another to tell gothic supernatural stories. The challenge led to the creation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Polidori’s novella The Vampyre and Byron’s poem Darkness.

Artist's impression of Mt Tambora erupting

Artist’s impression of Mt Tambora erupting

Many years later it was discovered that the reason for the ‘Year without Summer’ was a global climatic crisis caused by the eruption in 1815 of Mount Tambora in modern day Indonesia, one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 10,000 years, leading to a significant fall in world temperatures for three years.

A volcanic eruption in a far away place led to rioting in the streets, disease, new inventions and a new genre of literature. The events of ‘The Year without Summer’ cogently remind us of our basic relationship to the earth, our planetary home, and our inter relationship with matter and with one another. That is the nature of our existence, of our world, indeed of our universe. We cannot escape this reality.

Whatever way we speak about our earth, our humanity, we find out more and more how interconnected creation is. Barbara Ward, another great Christian prophet of our time has reminded us that ‘advanced science tells us that in every alphabet of our being we do indeed belong to a single system, powered by a single energy, manifesting a fundamental unity under all its variations.’

This is an extract from a sermon given by Fr Ian on the Feast of Christ the King 2016

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