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!

 

6 Comments

Filed under Girton

6 responses to “Girton College Chapel: End of Year Thanksgiving

  1. Lisa Curtice

    Blessings on your retirement as Chaplian.

  2. Anne W Macdonald

    Thank you for sharing Evensong and your reflection on the Lord’s Prayer over the past number of weeks.
    Thank you also for posting your poetry. My son, who tells me is an atheist, or possibly an agnostic, really appreciated your poem for Easter.

  3. Barbara Parry

    Beautiful, poignant! Re: the heavy weight of gold, I recall the story of Gold Water Island that becomes Death Water Island to those seeking gold for their own glory in CS Lewis” Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

  4. Pingback: Roundup: Carrying a boulder, toppling statues, art and prayer retreat, and more – Art & Theology

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