Meet each other with a smile

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Fr Ian and Mycah had a fantastic morning this morning, Friday 2nd October – World Smile Day.

They visited each class of St Chrysostom’s School and St John’s School and received hundreds of smiles from children and staff. The children were enthusiastic to show their smiles, and staff led the way too.

Smile A1It was wonderful to watch how the smiles spread around the rooms and united everyone. Everyone was given a smiley sticker to wear, and encouraged to smile at anyone they saw wearing one, and to go home and explain about world smile day and spreading smiles.

A simple but lovely moment for all!

Amy Packham, journalist at the Huffington Post has been smiling today, and writes:

Head Teacher and Deputy smiled too

Head Teacher and Deputy smiled too

It’s a selfless act to smile at someone. It takes hardly any effort, but I genuinely believe you can make someone’s day that little bit better by wiping the blank look off your face and giving that tiny bit of an emotional connection – simply a smile.

She is not alone in encouraging smiles. Smiles are a part of a universal language which we can all try.

No less a person than Mother Teresa, as she accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace said:

let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, even when it is difficult to smile, smile at each other…

(For more St C’s Smile Day photos click here and a report of a similar Smile day 2012 is here)

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A Great Fire of 1904

On October 1st 1904, one hundred and eleven years ago, St Chrysostom’s Church suffered a devastating fire. We’ve recently been given a transcription of an eyewitness description by an Irish student who was living in Ashburne Hall which at that time stood opposite the Church on Conyngham Road. It makes fascinating reading:

Fire PC 1It was the first night after I came back , and when I went to bed I thought I  thought I heard a great deal of noise, but concluding that this was only  the contrast between a busy town and the wilds of Kenny, with only the wash of little waves in the harbour and the distant roar of the Atlantic swells, to which I had become accustomed, I resolved to try not to listen and went to sleep. Hardly had I done so when I was waked with the startling announcement that “it” was blazing, and not knowing what or where “it” might be, I was in my sitting room in an instant and there saw one of those sights which leave an impression for the rest of one’s life. The whole roof of the Church was is flames, and no one who has not seen such a thing can imagine the volume of fire that rolled up with ceaseless rage, the great clouds of thick smoke, the sparks falling in showers, slate after slate crashing down from the roof, glass cracking and splintering as the fire shot out through window after window. In the glare of the flames we could see hundreds of peoples looking on, while several engines were spouting what looked like most ineffectual little streams of water, but small though they were they gained the victory at last.

Fire PC 2We could see the firemen in their helmets, trying to open the door and jet the hose inside, at first they failed, the flames drove them back, but at last they got it through and turned the water onto the inside of the building. Through the windows we could see the seats burning in rows of flame, while great blazing pieces of the roof kept crashing down amongst them. We watched it for nearly three hours and by that time the little streams of water had done their work and the fire had sunk down into a smouldering glow, with only a little spurt now and then.

It was curious to see afterwards how the little passage from the side chapel to the chancel was entirely unburnt, and when we went over the ruins a few days later there stood two chairs with a piece of carpet lying over them, without a sign of fire anywhere about.  While I was watching the fire I often thought of our own fire brigade, and wondered how far we should all keep our heads and do the right thing if we had a conflagration like that in the house. Until one sees it one does not realize its quickness, or the confusion caused by the incessant rage and the smoke and falling sparks. I hope we shall never have such an experience, but meanwhile I am always glad to see the brigade practising and taking it seriously, for the only thing that is any use in case of fire is to have the presence of mind which comes from having thought beforehand what is to be done.

Through the hard work and fund raising of the congregation the church was rebuilt and two years later, on 1st October 1906, the church was rededicated.

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Community, Faith and the Environment

Organized by Tayo Adebowale, who is part of the St Chrysostom’s community and a member of CIWEM, (Chartered Institute for Water and Environment Management) St C’s hosted an evening on Community, Faith and the Environment.

Mycah writes: We heard from two speakers representing the Environmental Agency and Faiths4Change.  Colin Liptrot of the Environment Agency (EA) spoke on his experience of trying to involve the local communities surrounding flood watch areas in keeping waterways clear.  He and his emergency team begin by sourcing what the problem is, usually a blockage, and respond to the emergency.

EAThe best way to deal with these emergencies is for them to not happen in the first place.  So how do Colin and his team approach this problem of rubbish (and sometimes objects as large as couches) being tossed into local waterways?  By reaching out to the local community, which can be difficult at times.

In cases such as these, the EA works with outside groups such as Faiths4Change, a Liverpool based organization dedicated to connecting social justice, local economy and the health and wellbeing of people and planet.  Faiths4change will help to get a community profile set up, contact major community leaders (usually in faith groups), and translate official notices in areas where English is not the primary language.  This partnership allows for the EA to communicate and connect with people in unique ways, and as Colin put it, Help me do my job, which sometimes is helping people understand why we don’t throw couches in the river.

F4CRepresenting Faiths4Change Mohammad Ali Amla spoke on interfaith work and the environment.  Faiths4Change fosters those relationships between faith groups and authorities such as the EA that will help create change.  The key word that we focused on was relationship.

Relationships can inspire engagement in social action, Amla said.  He told us of the work he has done with primary school children by organizing a litter picking event.  This had three major outcomes; one was to get children to invest in their environment by being involved in community clean up; two, to inspire older members of the community to be more conscientious of their littering by witnessing the young people’s actions; and three, to use social media from the event to create discussion, awareness, and encourage participation in the future.  All three of these outcomes involved a form of relationship either with the environment or with fellow community members.

Looking around our area of Manchester, some of the stories that were shared that night echoed what we can see along our streets.  There is litter lining the pavement despite the interspersed rubbish bins, and flecks of bright colors in the fields at Birchfields Park that are not flowers.

Where do you see litter around this neighbourhood, and what can the St Chrysostoms church community do to stop the problem happening?

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Two favourite Creation hymns

Dr Noel Preston continues his series on hymns – this time he was asked to write a few words about a Creation hymn…

Spacious useMy immediate thoughts went back to school assembly, when we regularly sang the imaginative poetry of Joseph Addison’s The spacious firmament on high.   (I can still recite the whole of it from memory!)

These words have inspired the composers of two good tunes.   The more resplendent is ‘London’ (or Addison’s) by John Sheeles 1688-1716, favoured in Anglican hymn-books.   Repetition of the last line gives extra emphasis to the words “The hand that made us is divine.”

A more contemplative tune ‘Firmament’ by Henry Walford Davies 1869-1941 has been preferred in the Methodist Hymn-book and other Free Church collections.

Magnificent though these words may be, however, they relate only to the wonder of the heavens.   The canticle Benedicite provides a much fuller coverage of creation  –  things inanimate, botanical, zoological, and a wide range that is anthropocentric.

Awesome useFor a hymn with a broader recognition of the wealth of God’s design, one can hardly do better than turn to Carl Gustaf Boberg 1859-1940 and an English translation by the Methodist missionary Stuart Wesley Keene Hine 1899-1989:

O Lord my God!  when I in awesome wonder

Consider all the works thy hand hath made…

After recounting many of the marvels of God’s work, the author finally leads us in humility to foresee our ultimate goal, so that this hymn is a popular choice at funerals:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation

And take me home  –  what joy shall fill my heart!

Then shall I bow in humble adoration

And then proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

With this hymn, I have never been told that I had played the wrong tune!   There is, however, confusion in various books over the origin of the tune HOW GREAT THOU ART:  is it a Russian hymn tune or a Swedish  folk melody?   Whichever, it is a splendid tune , and would hold its place among the finest of Russian compositions.

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What do 2.5 billion people not have?

PharbangAt St Chrysostom’s we’ve recently made a connection with Pharbang, a remote area in Nepal.


Well –

Did you know?

More than a third of the people on our planet – that’s 2.5 billion people don’t have a safe, clean and hygenic toilet.

… and that’s terrible.

Toilet 1So we’ve ‘twinned’ one of our toilets at Church. How did we do it? It’s quite simple. For £60 we provided a loo in Nepal, and in one of our church toilets we proudly display a photo of the Nepali toilet that our toilet is twinned with. So in this simple and small way we have helped stop the spread of disease in this Nepali community. It’s a small step, let’s hope more will follow. Perhaps we’ll twin the other two toilets in Church?

How did we get the £60? Guests at Marc and Tanya’s wedding in Church were invited to give towards an appeal for Nepal and they raised the money! So thank you to them.

You can find out more about toilet twinning at:

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O Jesus I have promised

Continuing our occasional series on hymns and and hymn tunes Dr Noel Preston suggests a tune for ‘O Jesus I have Promised.’

This wonderful hymn of commitment and dedication was written by The Revd John Ernest Bode (1816-74) for the confirmation of his two sons and daughter in 1869.   Such is its appeal that it has appeared (usually with the full five verses) in a wide variety of hymn-books published from that time to the present day.

O Jesus WdsIt is frequently used at confirmation and ordination, or merely as a ‘general’ hymn.   Yet there is no consensus in choice of tune:  at least twelve tunes are set to these words in various hymn-books, sometimes two or three in a single book  –   a sure sign that most of them do not really fit words of such strength and grandeur.

One of these tunes is described as jazzy.   Two others that appear often (‘Wolvercote’ and ‘Day of Rest’) are somewhat jumpy, and have a surfeit of passing-notes (two notes to one syllable).

This lack of dignity is recognised by those who have set the hymn to Harwood’s ‘Thornbury’.   But Basil Harwood wrote that magnificent tune for “Thy hand O God has guided”  –  with the refrain “One Church  one Faith  one Lord, one Faith  one Lord.”   It is quite unsuitable for John Bode’s words:  “And shield my soul from sin, my soul from sin.”  –  unless maybe you are an ardent fundamentalist!

Faced with this dilemma at my last church, I used for many years the ancient (1536) German melody ‘Erfreut euch’ which is set to quite different words in Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised (no.625).   This is a simple stately tune which progresses stepwise, with few leaps, and is congregation-friendly:  as with many good eight-line tunes, the melody for lines 1-2 is repeated for lines 3-4.

O jesus tuneIn John Bode’s first verse, the words “I shall not fear the battle” are  followed by “Nor wander from the pathway…”   The tune ‘Erfreut euch’ is a perfect match for these words, as it leads us along that pathway without deviation, whereas ‘Wolvercote’ and ‘Day of Rest’ are wandering all over the place!   Surprisingly, though, ‘Erfreut euch’ has been shunned by most hymn-book compilers.

Again, in Bode’s last verse, this tune directs us upward towards the things that are above, as it encourages us to sing out with enthusiasm “And then in heaven receive me.”

Lastly, though, to my great delight when I was doing some research for this present article, I found that I was not the first to realise how well these words and tune go together.   In Church Hymns , published in 1903, they are set to an almost identical tune designated ‘Kreuznach’ (from a Magdeburg Songbook)!   But I am amazed that this obvious affinity of word and music has subsequently been overlooked.

John Bode’s words “O Jesus I have promised…” have rightly been included in most hymn-books published in the last 100 years.   Oh that, during the next 100 years, the tune ERFREUT EUCH (Rejoice, Be glad) may be their constant companion!

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Funeral Details for Fr Ken Leech

Fr KHere is information about the funeral of Fr Ken Leech.

Fr Ken left details of how he would like his funeral liturgies and we are hoping to keep to them as close as possible.

Reception into Church Tuesday 13th October

Fr Ken will be received into St Chrysostom’s Church at 7pm on Tuesday 13th October. All are welcome. Following Vespers for the Dead there will be a Vigil of Prayer for Peace and Justice during which people may come and go. The Vigil will close at 10pm.

For the Vigil: We are inviting friends of Fr Ken, and any others who wish, to send topics for prayer, or prayers to be offered. They can be e mailed to the church office.  Prayers sent will be available in the Vigil, and online so that people can also pray ‘remotely.’ Prayer requests of the homeless, victims of human trafficking, addicts, prisoners, the troubled etc. will also be offered.

Requiem Mass Wednesday 14th October

The Requiem Mass will be at 2pm on Wednesday 14th October at St Chrysostom’s Church . All are invited to attend. Ken has left careful instructions about the liturgy and music to be used.

After the Mass there will be light refreshments in Church.

The Committal Thursday 15th October

Fr Ken will be buried in Mossley Cemetery the following morning at 11am, and those who wish are welcome to attend.


Flowers can be sent to St Chrysostom’s Church, preferably to arrive on 13th October. Donations in memory of Fr Ken will be received at Church and divided between charities which he supported. They can be given at Church, or posted to the Church, cheques to St Chrysostom’s Church.

Those attending the Vigil or Funeral Mass will be invited to write in a book of memories and tributes, and comments of those unable to attend posted here, or emailed, will be added to that book.

A memorial service for Ken, to be held in London, is being planned  for a later date.

Links to some published obituaries for Fr Ken are here.

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