Daily Archives: May 10, 2020

Mother’s Day: a sonnet (and a sigh)

…for those who loved and laboured…

I originally posted this on Mothering Sunday, in England, which was the first Sunday of our lockdown, but I repost it now for all my North American Friends for whom today is Mothers’ Day:

I planned to post a sonnet, but I start with a sigh. This will be a hard Sunday for so many: not only the first Sunday for so many churches when they will not meet physically together, though they will unite in prayer and online, to start the long yearning for reunion, but also it is Mothering Sunday, and so many are rightly staying at home when they naturally yearn to visit their mother. We know that, paradoxically, staying away is the most loving thing we can do, but it doesn’t feel like that.

Nevertheless we can love and be thankful and remember that our very existence in the world is testimony to the love and labour of our mothers. So once more I post my poem of thanksgiving for all parents, especialy for those who bore the fruitful pain of labour.And more particularly in this poem I have singled out for praise those heroic single parents who, for whatever reason, have found themselves bearing alone the burdens, and sharing with no-one the joys of their parenthood. They were already isolated before ‘self isolation’ was a thing, and now, with schools closed, their labour is multiplied, and without the help f neighbours. We cannot bring them physically into the church today, but in our prayers we bring them into Christ.

This poem is from my book Sounding the Seasons published by Canterbury Press and it is available on Amazon Here

I am grateful to Oliver  Neale for his thought-provoking work as a photographer, and, as always, you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button, or on the title

Mothering Sunday


At last, in spite of all, a recognition,

For those who loved and laboured for so long,

Who brought us, through that labour, to fruition

To flourish in the place where we belong.

A thanks to those who stayed and did the raising,

Who buckled down and did the work of two,

Whom governments have mocked instead of praising,

Who hid their heart-break and still struggled through,

The single mothers forced onto the edge

Whose work the world has overlooked, neglected,

Invisible to wealth and privilege,

But in whose lives the kingdom is reflected.

Now into Christ our mother church we bring them,

Who shares with them the birth-pangs of His Kingdom.


If you have enjoyed this page here’s a little link that allows you to ‘buy me a coffee’ (or a beer if you prefer!)


Buy Me A Coffee


Filed under imagination

Girton College Chapel May 10th: Thy Kingdom Come

Bluebells in Girton Grounds Photo Jeremy West

Welcome back to Girton College Chapel for the third of our virtual Sunday Evensongs, we have all been greatly encouraged that so many of you have come to these pages and found them fruitful. This week we continue our reflection on The Lord’s Prayer and I share with you a sermon and a sonnet on its second petition, a double prayer: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Once more we will have a chance to listen to our choir and let their music lift our hearts and souls in worship.(You can find the choir’s CDs Here) Today we will hear the responses and Lord’s prayer settings composed by Rhiannon Randle, one of the foremost young composers and a former member of our college and choir.

Now, to begin our worship, we hear the opening responses, composed by Rhiannon Randle and sung by Girton Choir. As with all the audio you can listen by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title.

The Queen Elizabeth Doors outside chapel Photo by Liliana Janik

Introductory Responses


V:O Lord, open thou our lips.
R:And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
V:O God, make speed to save us.
R:O Lord, make haste to help us.

V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
R: .As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
V: Praise ye the Lord.
R:The Lord’s Name be praised.


Since our theme today is the coming of the Kingdom, our psalm sings of the King and the compassion of his Kingdom. do read this psalm aloud, perhaps alternating verse with other members of your household.

Psalm 145.Exaltabo te, Deus

I will magnify thee, O God, my King : and I will praise thy

Name for ever and ever.

Every day will I give thanks unto thee : and praise thy Name

for ever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and marvellous, worthy to be praised :

there is no end of his greatness.

One generation shall praise thy works unto another : and declare

thy power.

As for me, I will be talking of thy worship : thy glory, thy

praise, and wondrous works;

So that men shall speak of the might of thy marvellous acts :

and I will also tell of thy greatness.

The memorial of thine abundant kindness shall be shewed :

and men shall sing of thy righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful : long-suffering, and of

great goodness.

The Lord is loving unto every man : and his mercy is over all

his works.

All thy works praise thee, O Lord : and thy saints give thanks

unto thee.

They shew the glory of thy kingdom : and talk of thy power;

That thy power, thy glory, and mightiness of thy kingdom :

might be known unto men.

Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom : and thy dominion

endureth throughout all ages.

The Lord upholdeth all such as fall : and lifteth up all those

that are down.

The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord : and thou givest

them their meat in due season.

Thou openest thine hand : and fillest all things living with


The Lord is righteous in all his ways : and holy in all his


The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him : yea, all

such as call upon him faithfully.

He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him : he also will

hear their cry, and will help them.

The Lord preserveth all them that love him : but scattereth

abroad all the ungodly.

My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord : and let all flesh

give thanks unto his holy Name for ever and ever.

Glory Be to the Father, and the theSon and to the Holy Ghost

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen

A shy deer comes to Girton, an image of the soul Photo Jeremy West

The Old Testament Reading is taken from the book of Deuteronomy 

Deuteronomy 24:14-19 Read by Fiona Cooke Chair of the Chapel Committee

You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy labourers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns.

  You shall pay them their wages daily before sunset, because they are poor and their livelihood depends on them; otherwise they might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt.

Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their parents; only for their own crimes may persons be put to death.

You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge.

   Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.

When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings.


In place of the Magnificat we hear the choir sing Sancta Maria by De Brito:

Our choir in full flight. Image by Adrenalin Photography

Our New Testament reading, one of the parables of the kingdom, is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel

Matthew 20:1-16 read by choir member Catriona James

  ‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.

After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.

When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place;

and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went.

When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same.

And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?”

They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.”

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.”

When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.

Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.

And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner,

saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.”

But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?

Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you.

Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’

In place of the Nunc Dimities we will hear the Ecce Venit Desideratus by Ingegneri from the choir’s wonderful new CD:

Final Responses set by Rhiannon Randle sung by Girton Choir

V:The Lord be with you.
R:And with thy spirit.
V:Let us pray.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

OUR Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

V:O Lord, shew thy mercy upon us.
R:And grant us thy salvation.
V:O Lord, save the Queen.

R:And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.
V:Endue thy Ministers with righteousness.
R:And make thy chosen people joyful.
V:O Lord, save thy people.
R:And bless thine inheritance.
V:Give peace in our time, O Lord.
R:Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God.
V:O God, make clean our hearts within us.
R:And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.

Sermon: Thy Kingdom Come: a reflection and a sonnet from the chaplain

The text of the poem:

Thy Kingdom Come

Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth

Can we imagine what we’re asking for?

When all we know and all we think we’re worth

As vanity might vanish, disappear,

Fading before the splendours you reveal:

The beggars crowned with glory, all the meek

Exalted even as the mighty fall,

And everywhere the triumph of the weak.


And we, who have been first, will be the last

And queue for mercy like the refugees

Whom only moments earlier we passed

By on the other side. For now the seas

That separated are no more. The Sun

Is risen like justice, and his will is done.

Our anthem this evening is Unus Ex Duobus by Palestrina:

When an ordinary staircase becomes Jacob’s Ladder! Image by Adrenalin Photography

Now here, as always is the blessing which concludes our service:

A Blessing from the Chaplain:

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his son Jesus Christ our lord, and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you and those whom you hold in your hearts, this day and always, Amen

A glimpse into the fellows garden. Photo Liliana Janik


Filed under Girton