Welcome to this brief service of Thanksgiving for Graduation, the last of our series of services for this Academic Year. Usually we would be gathered at College, with all the excitement of robing for the ceremony and bringing parents and supporters to show them round. Then, before we processed to the Senate house for the graduation itself, we would gather in chapel for this service, in which we would celebrate each other’s achievements, and thank God for the blessing of our time together at Girton. Following a beautiful ‘first fruits ceremony’ from the Old Testament, I would bring a basket to the altar as a thanksgiving for all you have shcieved, enjoyed, and received during your time at Girton. This year we shall do our best to give you a flavour of that before, we hope, you will return to college, when circumstances allow for a more in person celebration. There are all kinds of videos, celebrations and encounters, live and recorded on the college’s main ‘Graduation’ website but here is a little annexe, as it were, in virtual chapel, in which we can mark the day with grateful praise.
So to begin with we will hear our choir sing a hymn we often have on this occasion and I am including the words here so that you can sing along together with whoever you are with as you keep this day ‘virtually’ wherever you are:
Joy of heaven to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesu, thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.
Let us all thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
Glory in thy perfect love.
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love and Praise.
Now let us here an excerpt from Courtesy byMicheal O’Siadhail read by the Chaplain
Reading: Courtesy – Micheal O’Siadhail
I bring my basketful to serve
Our table. Everything mine is yours.
Everything. Without reserve.
Poems to which I still revert.
Gauguin. Matisse. Renoir’s pear-shaped women.
Music I’ve heard. Blessed Schubert.
Ecstasies I’ll never understand –
Mandelstam’s instants of splendour, the world
A plain apple in his hand.
Lost faces. Those whose heirs
I was. My print-out of their genes,
Seed and breed of forbears.
Whatever I’ve become – courtesy
Of lovers, friends or friends of friends.
All those traces in me.
The living and dead. My sum
Of being. A host open and woundable.
Here I am! …..