Monthly Archives: June 2020

A Sonnet for Petertide, and the 30th Anniversary of my ordination

 

The 29th of June is St. Peter’s day, when we remember the disciple who, for all his many mistakes, knew how to recover and hold on, who, for all his waverings was called by Jesus ‘the rock’, who learned the threefold lesson that every betrayal can ultimately be restored by love. It is fitting therefore that it is at Petertide that new priests and deacons are ordained, on the day they remember a man whose recovery from mistakes and openness to love can give them courage. So I post this poem not only for St. Peter but for all those called to ministry who should have been ordained this weekend, but whose ordination may have been postponed. I also post it with thanksgiving for my own ordination at Petertide 30 years ago.

This poem comes from my collection Sounding the Seasons published by Canterbury Press. You can also buy it on Amazon Uk or US or order it in any bookshop.

As always you can her the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button, or on the title of the poem.

St. Peter

Impulsive master of misunderstanding

You comfort me with all your big mistakes;

Jumping the ship before you make the landing,

Placing the bet before you know the stakes.

I love the way you step out without knowing,

The way you sometimes speak before you think,

The way your broken faith is always growing,

The way he holds you even when you sink.

Born to a world that always tried to shame you,

Your shaky ego vulnerable to shame,

I love the way that Jesus chose to name you,

Before you knew how to deserve that name.

And in the end your Saviour let you prove

That each denial is undone by love.

 

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Judgement and Clemency: A response to psalm 26

The opening three verses of psalm 26 announce a theme that balances judgement and clemency, truth and loving kindness:

  1. BE THOU my judge, O Lord, for I have walked innocently: my trust hath been also in the Lord, therefore shall I not fall.
  2. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me: try out my reins and my heart.
  3. For thy loving-kindness is ever before mine eyes: and I will walk in thy truth.

To ask God to be our judge is both an alarming and a comforting thing to do. Alarming because there can be no evasion of truth since God sees all things, but comforting because in Christ we see that the God of truth is also the God of grace ‘ We beheld his glory…full of grace and truth’ as John testifies. Our own judgements on the other hand are partial, both because our knowledge is incomplete, we only know in part, and because we are inclined to partiality, to favour ourselves and be over severe with others. This is why Jesus specifically says ‘ do not judge and you will not be judged.’  and Paul says ‘ I judge not even myself’. The psalmist here seems confident of his innocence and his clean hands. I cannot say the same for myself, but I can still trust myself equally to God’s judgement and mercy.

These themes were all in my mind as I responded to psalm 26 and so was a beautiful hymn by Faber which we sing regularly which begins:

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice
which is more than liberty.

but I was especially remembering the verse:

But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.

So my poem became a plea to let him judge, to rest in his mercy and to see with his eyes.

As usual you can hear the poem by pressing the ‘play’ button if it appears, or else by clicking on the title. For the other poems in my psalm series type the word ‘psalm’ into the search box on the right.

XXVI Judica me, Domine

That I may find my peace in all he wills

I call on him in faith, to judge for me,

Since my own judgement fails and all my skills

 

In reckoning forget his clemency.

For when I judge myself, when I judge others

I do so with a false severity.

 

He has a far more patient love, that gathers

All his lost and fallen children home

Into that habitation where he mothers,

 

Fathers, and befriends, us, where the same

Love is lavished on the least as on

The greatest and he welcomes all who come

 

To him. I may have shunned them, but the son

Who died for them knows better than I do,

Oh let me see with his eyes from now on!

 

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New Perspective: a Response to Psalm 25

The wide skies Speak of his mercy, and the distant hills Stand in his steadfast love

We resume our poetic journey through the psalms and come today to psalm 25, a little landmark and staging post, exactly one sixth of the way through the psalter. It’s a good psalm for pausing on the journey, taking stock, getting a good view of the way ahead for psalm 25 is all about putting earthly life in the heavenly perspective. I particularly like the line in verse 14:

Mine eyes are ever looking unto the Lord: for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

If I look down too often at my own tangles they get more tangled still whereas if I look up to Christ and trust him, he can gradually do some of the untangling for me, a theme I have developed in my response to this psalm.

As we reflect at this staging post, can I say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me me with a friendly ‘cup of coffee’ over the past month or so. It’s been very encouraging, and as a result I feel much more secure going forward into my new life as full-time poet. But can I also add that although the ‘buy me a coffee’ button is there for anyone to use at the end of these posts, there is absolutely no obligation, and it need only be an occasional thing. These posts themselves will of course always be absolutely free to all. (you can read more about the whole coffee thing and why I started it on this previous post)

As usual you can hear the poems by pressing the ‘play’ button if it appears, or else by clicking on the title.

XXV Ad te, Domine, levavi

The gates will open for us both, look up!

I hear that voice each day when I’m downcast

I hear it when I’ve almost lost my hope

 

And now, when I’m entangled by my past,

My feet are netted by necessity,

Snared in the traps of time that bind so fast,

 

My eyes turned downward, dimmed by what they see,

I hear that voice again and raise my eyes

And he untangles me and sets me free.

 

He alters my perspective. The wide skies

Speak of his mercy, and the distant hills

Stand in his steadfast love and make me wise

 

In his simplicity, and all my ills

Diminish and recede to their true size.

That I may find my peace in all he wills.

 

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A pair of sonnets for St. John the Baptist.

So keep his fires burning through the night
Beacons and gateways for the child of light.

We pause for a moment in our poetic journey through the psalms, to mark an important moment in our other journey through the sacred seasons of the year. For now we have come to midsummer and the traditional Church festival for this beautiful, long-lit solstice season is the Feast of St. John the Baptist, which falls on June 24th, which was midsummer day in the old Roman Calender. Luke tells us  that John the Baptist was born about 6 months before Jesus, so this feast falls half way through the year, 6 months before Christmas!

The tradition of keeping St. John’s Eve with the lighting of Bonfires and Beacons is very ancient, almost certainly pre-Christian, but in my view it is very fitting that it has become part of a Christian festivity. Christ keeps and fulfills all that was best in the old pagan forshadowings of his coming and this Midsummer festival of light is no exception. John was sent as a witness to the light that was coming into the world, and John wanted to point to that light, not stand in its way, hence his beautiful saying ‘He must increase and I must diminish’, a good watchword for all of those who are, as the prayer book calls us, the ‘ministers and stewards of his mysteries’.

I have written two sonnets,  one for St. John’s Eve reflecting on the lighting of the fires and another for St. John’s day in which , in honour of the Baptist, I reflect on the mystery and grace of baptism itself.

I am very grateful to the artist Rebecca Merry  for her beautiful interpretation of this feast and these poems.

Both these sonnets were published in Sounding the Seasons, my cycle of seventy sonnets for the Church Year.The book is now back in stock on bothAmazon UK and USA  It is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of this, and my other sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.

As usual you can hear the poems by pressing the ‘play’ button if it appears, or else by clicking on the title.

St. John the Baptist: 1 St. John’s Eve

Midsummer night, and bonfires on the hill

Burn for the man who makes way for the Light:

‘He must increase and I diminish still,

Until his sun illuminates my night.’

So John the Baptist pioneers our path,

Unfolds the essence of the life of prayer,

Unlatches the last doorway into faith,

And makes one inner space an everywhere.

Least of the new and greatest of the old,

Orpheus on the threshold with his lyre,

He sets himself aside, and cries “Behold

The One who stands amongst you comes with fire!”

So keep his fires burning through this night,

Beacons and gateways for the child of light.


St. John the Baptist: 2 Baptism

Love’s hidden thread has drawn us to the font,

A wide womb floating on the breath of God,

Feathered with seraph wings, lit with the swift

Lightening of praise, with thunder over-spread,

And under-girded with an unheard song,

Calling through water, fire, darkness, pain,

Calling us to the life for which we long,

Yearning to bring us to our birth again.

Again the breath of God is on the waters

In whose reflecting face our candles shine,

Again he draws from death the sons and daughters

For whom he bid the elements combine.

As living stones around a font today,

Rejoice with those who roll the stone away.

 

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Who Shall Ascend? A Response to Psalm 24

Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?

In the last post we saw how psalms 22 and 23 are linked, as I said in that post: ‘The Lord can only be my shepherd and lead me through the valley of the shadow of death if he himself makes that journey with me, and psalm 22 tells me he does just that.’ I think this prophetic sequence, which began with psalm 22 continues into psalm 24, a coronation psalm which has always been used by the church to reflect on and celebrate the ascension of Christ, understood as the King of Glory in this psalm

Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is the King of glory: even the Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

This interpretation throws new light on the crucial question asked earlier in the psalm

Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord: or who shall rise up in his holy place?

The psalm answers that by describing a person of complete holiness, with ‘clean hands and a pure heart’. In the Old Testament perspective only such holy people can ascend and come into the presence of the Holy,  and for the Christian only Christ belongs naturally in heaven. And yet because he has atoned for us and we have put our hearts into his, we are able to ascend, not by our own rights, but with and in him. So a psalm that might have been forbidding to us, is transformed by Christ into a Royal Invitation.

As always you can hear me read the poems by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.

XXIV Domini est terra

And draw me into his eternity?

But who can rise up to that holy place?

Can all its splendours really be for me?

 

Before that holy fire I hide my face

My hands were never clean, as for my heart

He’ll search out its impurity and trace

 

The sources of its sin in every part,

And in the whole, its weariness and stain.

Who can ascend? I cannot even start.

 

But even as I fear my hopes are vain

My saviour comes, his love revives my hope

I feel him search my wounds, deal with my pain,

 

And offer me again the healing cup.

Raising my head, he says: Now rise with me

The gates will open for us both, look up!

 

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Through the Valley of The Shadow: responding to Psalms 22 and 23

led me beside still waters

In my last post, reflecting on psalm 21, a coronation psalm, I mentioned that it stands at the threshold of the special prophetic sequence of psalms 22-24 which speak in turn of Christ’s crucifixion, his leading us through the valley of the shadow death as our good shepherd, and his ascent into heaven as our lord and king. Because of the way these psalms and the poems written in response are linked, I am going to post my responses to psalms 22 and 23 together, so that you can read them as a sequence and also experience the effect of the linked closing and opening lines which make the sequence a ‘corona’.

In these poems I am often drawing on or responding to the language of Coverdale’s translation of the Psalms in The Book of Common Prayer, and you might like to re-read these psalms in that translation alongside the poems

For all Christians reading psalm 22 has a special power and poignancy because it was on the lips of Jesus when he died. As I say in my poem, ‘Christ himself is crying through this psalm’. And psalm 23 is perhaps the nation’s favourite, with its comforting image of the Lord as our shepherd leading us by still waters. People seldom link the two psalms, but the link is essential. The Lord can only be my shepherd and lead me through the valley of the shadow of death if he himself makes that journey with me, and psalm 22 tells me he does just that. Jesus goes to the cross, cries out that psalm, and passes through the gates of death, not only to make my peace with God, but also to be with me and lead me through when I make the same journey.

As always you can hear me read the poems by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.

XXII Deus, Deus meus

Before he shares with us the golden crown,

He comes to share with us the crown of thorns.

Our hurts and hates close in and hem him round

 

Mock and humiliate him. All the scorns

With which we blaspheme God in one another

Are concentrated here among ‘the horns

 

Of unicorns’, the lions mouths, the slather

Of our devouring wickedness. He takes

It all and turns it into love. He gathers

 

All of us and by atonement makes

Our peace with God. He speaks to us of mercy

Even as we pierce him. No-one slakes

 

His thirst. I tremble at the mystery

For Christ himself is crying through this psalm,

To suffer my own dereliction for me.

 

XXIII Dominus regit me

To suffer my own dereliction for me,

To be my shepherd, and to lead me through

The grave and gate of death, in strength and mercy

 

Christ has come down. At last I’ve found the true

Shepherd and the false just fade away,

Before him. I will sing of how he drew

 

Me from the snares I set myself, how day

Dawned on my darkness, how he brought me forth

Converted me and opened up the way

 

For me, and led me gently on that path,

Led me beside still waters, promised me

That he’d be with me all my days on earth,

 

And when my last day comes, accompany

And comfort me, as evening shadows fall,

And draw me into his eternity.

 

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Corona Spina: the Crown of Thorns and the Crown of Glory: Psalm 21

We come now to psalm 21, often referred to as a coronation psalm because of the verses:

  1. THE King shall rejoice in thy strength, O Lord: exceeding glad shall he be of thy salvation.
  2. Thou hast given him his heart’s desire: and hast not denied him the request of his lips.
  3. For thou shalt prevent him with the blessings of goodness: and shalt set a crown of pure gold upon his head.
  4. He asked life of thee, and thou gavest him a long life: even for ever and ever.

From its original associations with David’s Crown, Early Christians applied this psalm to Christ ‘the son of David’ and therefore the understanding of coronation itself deepened. Before he wears  the golden crown prophesied in this psalm, Christ, the true Messiah, comes to suffer with his creation and to wear the crown of thorns, the Corona Spina as it was called in Latin. For the word corona which we have learned to dread, is there in the word coronation, and surely part of Christ’s Corona Spina is this current coronavirus crisis, for he enters into our suffering that we might enter into his glory.

This is the reason I chose the ‘corona’ form for ‘David’s Crown’ this new poetry sequence. For another meaning of corona is a crown or chaplet of poems interwoven so that the last line of the first poem is the first line of the next, and so on until the final line of the final poem is the first line of the first poem.

This psalm of course precedes the special prophetic sequence of psalms 22-24 which speak in turn of Christ’s crucifixion, his leading us through the valley of the shadow death as our good shepherd, and his ascent into heaven as our lord and king. But first that glory is prefigured in psalm 21. All these themes have in different ways entered into my response to psalm 21, and I end it knowing that we will turn, in psalm 22, to Christ’s cry of dereliction from the cross.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.

XXI Domine, in virtute tua

Now may you find in Christ, riches and rest

May you be blessed in him, and he in you

In Heaven, where to grant you your request

 

Is always blessing, for your heart is true:

True to yourself and true to Christ your king.

Breathe through this coronation psalm and view

 

The glory of his golden crown, then sing

The exaltation, goodness, life and power,

The blessing and salvation Christ will bring.

 

But first he wears a darker crown. The hour

Is coming and has come. Our Lord comes down

Into the heart of all our hurts to wear

 

With us the sharp corona spina, crown

Of thorns, and to descend with us to death

Before he shares with us the golden crown.

 

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Some Scent and Sense of Heaven: a response to Psalm 20

‘May each glimpse become epiphany’ (looking across Loch Broom from my mother’s cottage)

Psalm 20 opens with an act of pure blessing. You could speak it over someone and bless them with it, and the crown of that blessing comes in verse 4:

Grant thee thy heart’s desire: and fulfil all thy mind.

The response to this psalm, in my sequence ‘David’s Crown’ is also written as a blessing, and at its core is the idea that the deepest desires of  our hearts might lead us on to God, the one whom, in the end,we most deeply desire. A theme CS Lewis explores so beautifully in both Pilgrim’s Regress’ and Surprised by Joy. So I hope you enjoy this poem and receive it as a blessing spoken over you for good.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.

XX Exaudiat te Dominus

All given for your growth, and your delight,

All flowing for you from his sanctuary.

Even before you enter in, his light

 

Is blessing you. May mystery

Still draw you on, arouse your heart’s desire,

And may each glimpse become epiphany.

 

May brief sparks blaze into a Holy fire

Whose light and warmth illuminate your mind.

And may some scent and sense of heaven inspire

 

Your thoughts and words. May everything remind

You of your Lord that you may put your trust

Entirely in his name, not in the blind

 

Dependence of this world, whose weapons rust

Into the soul and and kill it from within,

But may you find in Christ, riches and rest.

 

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The Heavens Declare the Glory: my response to psalm 19

under mysterious starlight

In my series ‘David’s Crown’, an interwoven ‘corona’ of responses to The Book of Psalms, we have come to Psalm 19, one of the most famous and beautiful of all the psalms, with its wonderful opening line:

  1. THE heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

It was CS Lewis’s favourite psalm, and Michael Ward has shown in his brilliant book Planet Narnia how deeply Lewis responded both to the beauty of the stars and planets and also to the wonderful penumbra of poetry song and story that has been associated in all ages and cultures with their radiance, their dance through the skies, and the sense they give us of an eternal splendour above ‘the changes and chances of this fleeting world’. This psalm is also a favourite of mine and I approached it with some trepidation, but in the end I found in it an invitation just to enjoy and celebrate beauty in verse.

In this poem ‘the complete consort dancing’ is a quotation from Eliot’s four quartets, and the idea that the stars are themselves words in God’s poem is drawn from Coleridge’s insight, in Frost at Midnight, that all the appearances of nature are themselves ‘ the lovely shapes and sounds intelligible/of that eternal language which they God/utters.

It has been lovely to come to a psalm which for a moment leaves agony and struggle behind, and is sheer celebration. I hope you enjoy it too.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.

 

XIX Caeli enarrant

In that still place where earth and heaven meet

Under mysterious starlight, raise your head

And gaze up at their glory:  ‘the complete

 

Consort dancing’ as a poet said

Of his own words. But these are all God’s words;

A shining poem, waiting to be read

 

Afresh in every heart. Now look towards

The brightening east, and see the splendid sun

Rise and rejoice, the icon of his lord’s

 

True light. Be joyful with him, watch him run

His course, receive the gift and treasure of his light

Pouring like honeyed gold till day is done

 

As sweet and strong as all God’s laws, as right

As all his judgements and as clean and pure,

All given for your growth, and your delight!

 

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Girton College Chapel: End of Year Thanksgiving

Just some of the choir, fellows, and musicians who make all these beautiful things happen! Photo by Jeremy West

Welcome to the Girton College Chapel Page for this final service of term. Whereas our other services have followed the pattern of Evensong, today’s service has its own form, hi-lighting all we have to be thankful for in this past Academic Year. Today’s service will also include, as it does each year, the announcement of the winners of the Tom Mansfield Prize for contribution to the college’s musical life. Today’s service, themed around thankfulness will also bring to a conclusion our series of reflections on The Lord’s Prayer

We begin this service, themed around thankfulness and blessing with a prayer and a poem:

Opening Prayer

We thank you Lord that we can gather together in prayer, that even though we are outwardly and visibly scattered in many places, even though our eyes cannot meet nor our voices join, nevertheless we are gathered in your love and your Spirit makes us one. May we who are praying through this page be lifted by the prayers of others as we lift one another up to you in thanksgiving

Through Jesus Christ Our Lord

Amen

Now I will read you a sonnet which gives thanks for our community, for the webs and threads of interconnection that run between us all however physically distant we may be:

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving starts with thanks for mere survival,

Just to have made it through another year

With everyone still breathing. But we share

So much beyond the outer roads we travel;

Our interweavings on a deeper level,

The modes of life embodied souls can share,

The unguessed blessings of our being here,

Threads of connection no one can unravel.

 

So I give thanks for our deep coinherence,

Inwoven in the web of Gods own grace,

Pulling us through the grave and gate of death.

I thank Him for the truth behind appearance

I thank Him for his light in every face

I thank Him for us all, with every breath.

 

And now, for our first anthem from the choir, we have a real treat. Gareth Wilson has been able to put together a virtual choir video of the Anthem Lead Me Lord by SS Wesley, and it is a joy, and a technical miracle, to see, as well as hear, our choir singing it.

 

After such beautiful music it is appropriate that we come to the awarding of the Tom Mansfield memorial prize. Tom was a brilliant young man, a first year student whom I got to know in my own first term here as chaplain. He arrived from Harrogate bringing with him an enthusiasm for music of every kind and soon had a little Girton brass group going as well as playing  jazz trombone in other venues. And then, tragically his life was cut short by a traffic accident. Many of us travelled up to Harrogate for his unforgettable, and musically rich memorial service and the JCR instituted a prize in his honour for students who like him, had enthused others to make music in college. So here is a message from Riva Kapoor, the JCR President introducing the prize and announcing the first of this year’s joint winners:

Congratulations to Rachel! Here is Rachael’s reply:

And here is the announcement of our second joint-winner:

Congratulations to James! Here is James’ reply:

A little glimpse of Girton stillness, photo by Liliana Janik

We come now to the first of our two readings from the letter to the Colossians, read for us today by Sandra Fulton, the Senior Tutor

Colossians 1:15-20

  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in[i] him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Our second Anthem is the Missa Laudate Pueri by Ingegneri, from the choir’s acclaimed CD:

Our second reading from Colossians is read for us by The Mistress:

Colossians 3:12-17 

 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with

Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another,

forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts

sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

beauty unfolding everywhere Photo by Liliana Janik

My sermon and sonnet today pick up the theme of thanksgiving and also reflect on the final words of The Lord’s Prayer:

Address by the Chaplain’ Thine is the Kingdom’ 

Text of the Sonnet:

Thine is the kingdom...

The kingdom and the power and the glory,

The very things we all want for ourselves!

We want to be the hero of the story

And leave the others on their dusty shelves.

How subtly we seek to keep the kingdom,

How brutally we hold on to the power,

Our glory always means another’s thralldom,

But still we strut and fret our little hour.

 

What might it mean to let it go forever,

To die to all that desperate desire,

To give the glory wholly to another,

Throw all we hold into that holy fire?

A wrenching loss and then a sudden freedom

In given glories and a hidden kingdom.

 

Our third Anthem is In Spiritu Humiliatis by Croce

‘Sing the waning darkness into light’ Photo Martin Bond

Now we come to our prayers which will include the special prayer thanksgiving for music and musicians which I first prayed on our behalf at Tom Mansfield’s memorial service:

Let us pray:

We thank you Lord for this academic year. We thank you for all that we enjoyed with one another in the two terms we were together, but we also thank you for all the love that has been shown and shared in the term of our Covid exile. For the many messages of mutual support, the Zoom supervisions, the virtual events and celebrations. May we who have passed together through these historic times, be bound more closely together in the future through our shared experience, suffering and resilience

V: Lord in Your Mercy

R: Hear Our Prayer

We thank you for all who have served us throughout the year in this college, for all the college staff, the cleaners, gardeners, kitchen staff, porters, and administrators. for the Mistress and fellows, the college officers, the nurses, tutors and councillors, and all through whose care, seen and unseen we have been brought to this day and to this celebration.

V: Lord in Your Mercy

R: Hear Our Prayer

 

A Thanksgiving for Tom Mansfield and a prayer for Musicians:

Father we thank you for the gift of music and for the gifts you give to those who play that music for us.

Today especially Father we thank you for Tom as a musician,

we thank you for his talents, and for his joy in making music, for the pleasure he gave and received when playing.

And Father we thank you for music itself, for its power to express the heights of our joys and the depths of our sorrows.

We thank you especially for those moments when hearing and making music seems to bring us to the brink of heaven,

when we hear behind the music the echo of your call,

we get a glimpse of your glory, and our hearts yearn for more than they can imagine.

We thank you that the promise at the core of our music is true

that one day in heaven we shall ourselves be made your music.

Father we pray that Tom is finding now with you the true meaning of every note he played and taking his part in the music of heaven.

Finally Father we pray for all the musicians of Girton,

for the choir and organists, for the Girton Music society, the Gir-ten, and all the informal musical gatherings and combinations that enrich our college life.

Father be with them when they take up their instruments to play,

May they play boldly and clearly, may they sound a note that tells their sorrow,

but may they also hear, as they play, that promise hidden in music,

that there is a joy with you beyond this world and that one day we will share that joy together..

We ask it in the name of Jesus Christ Amen

We gather these prayers together in the words of the prayer on which we have been reflecting throughout this term:

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. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever Amen.

my rising and my rest, peaceful seat in the fellows garden Photo by Jeremy West

Now, as our service comes to a close, and I come to bid you farewell and give you my final blessing, I reflect that this is the last End Of Year Thanksgiving Service in my time with you as chaplain, and I give thanks for the honour of serving this chapel and college over the last 18 years. I thank God for all the Girtonians who have worshipped here over those years and whom I have come to know and love and I speak this blessing for all of them as well as for of you who are gathered around this page:

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

Finally, to lead us out and let us go in peace, the choir will sing the Nunc Dimities in Gareth Wilson’s wonderful setting:

The NuncDimmitis from The Girton Service(Wilson), sung by Girton choir

NUNC DIMITTIS

 

Luke 2.29

LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace :
according to thy word.

For mine eyes have seen :
thy salvation;

Which thou hast prepared :
before the face of all people;

To be a light to lighten the Gentiles :
and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;

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

In any other year we would process from the chapel into Woodlands Court and enjoy some celebratory sparkling wine together, but perhaps you will join me now in lifting a glass and toasting the college and one another, wherever you may be

To The college!

 

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