Friday, 30 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 22

Here we have an autumnal view of Clarendon Dock in Belfast - this is where I go two or three times a year for examining meetings. The dock is now dry - there are no longer any boats there. Well, today is St Andrew's Day, and Jesus called Andrew and Simon to leave their boats and follow him.

Jesus calls us! - o'er the tumult
Of our life's wild restless sea
Day by day his sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, 'Christian, follow me':

As of old Saint Andrew heard it
By the Galilean lake,
Turned from home, and toil, and kindred,
Leaving all for his dear sake.

Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world's golden store,
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, 'Christian, love me more.'

In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still he calls, in cares and pleasures,
'Christian, love me more than these.'

Jesus calls us! - by thy mercies,
Saviour, may we hear thy call,
Give our hearts to thy obedience,
Serve and love thee best of all.

These glorious words were written by Mrs C F Alexander - a native of Northern Ireland. She may well have sailed from Clarendon Dock on many an occasion.

Happy Feast! (or Solemnity if you live in Scotland)

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 21

Here we have a photo of an autumn morning in Belfast. It was taken at 9.00 am on a Saturday by the Waterfront Hall on the West Bank of the River Lagan and shows remarkably little activity - at least by London standards!

In the distance one can see the twin towers of Harland and Wolff Shipbuilders - the yard almost silent these days. How Belfast has changed since I lived there in the 1980's! It is a much more beautiful City these days.

A few more years shall roll,
A few more seasons come,
And we shall be with those who rest
In peace beyond the tomb.
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that great day;
O wash me in thy precious Blood,
And take my sins away.

Good words for this month of the Holy Souls.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 20

I visited Norwich Cathedral earlier this autumn. It is a lovely building.

Into God's high temple
Onward as we press,
Beauty spreads around us,
Born of holiness;
Arch, and vault, and carving,
Lights of varied tone,
Softened words and holy,
Prayer and praise alone:
Every thought upraising
To our city bright,
Where the tribes assemble
Round the throne of light.

Our church buildings should point us upwards to heaven!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 19

Here is a photo of a couple of ducks (male mallards) taken near Lichfield Cathedral.

Hark, my soul, how everything
Strives to serve our bounteous King;
Each a double tribute pays,
Sings its part, and then obeys.

Nature's chief and sweetest choir
Him with cheerful notes admire;
Chanting every day their lauds,
While the grove their song applauds.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 18

Here we have a photo of the three spires of Lichfield Cathedral taken late one autumn afternoon.

O Strength and Stay upholding all creation,
Who ever dost thyself unmoved abide,
Yet day by day the light in due gradation
From hour to hour through all its changes guide.

Inspiring words written by St Ambrose.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Feast of Christ the King

The 34th (last) Sunday of Ordinary Time is celebrated as the Feast of Christ the King. Here is a display of autumn flowers taken in Lichfield Cathedral - it forms a fitting image for the feast.

Crown him the Lord of peace,
Whose power a sceptre sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
Absorbed in prayer and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
And round his pierced feet
Fair flowers of Paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.

Have a Happy Feast!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 17

On my way to Mass on 11 November I walked along the banks of the River Cam. It was a beautiful autumn morning.

Lord for ourselves; in living power remake us-
Self on the cross and Christ upon the throne,
Past put behind us, for the future take us:
Lord for our lives, to live for Christ alone.

What lovely words as we prepare the celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 16

On Remembrance Sunday 11 November I attended Solemn Mass at the Church of our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge. I was greatly impressed, and would strongly recommend this church to anyone visiting the city. I was delighted to hear the new solo tuba on the final hymn - Lord, for the years.

On my way I passed the Chapel of King's College - famous for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve.

Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,
Urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
Sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided:
Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 15

After visiting Pluscarden Abbey on All Souls' Day (2 November 2007), I cycled back to Elgin Station and on my way visited Miltonduff Distillery. I was given a complimentary free dram of the 10 year old malt. It was very welcome - but nothing great!

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me,
And on his shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

No - I wasn't drunk, and I wasn't picked up by the Highland Police and taken back to a cell for the night!

I fondly remembered my former parish priest - Canon George Telford, who died on 6 November 1997. He was very fond of Scottish malt whisky. May he rest in peace, and rise in glory. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 14

Well here they are - Badger Faced Sheep - and they were happy to be photographed by me. Well, Francis of Assisi was a permanent deacon, and perhaps they assumed that I am the great saint!

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul he leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow
With food celestial feedeth.

These lovely sheep certainly appear to be well-fed!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 13

Here are some unusual sheep which I photographed on my way to Loch Insh Watersports Centre.

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
And he is mine for ever.

We behave in odd ways at times - but God doesn't stop loving us!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 12

Here is a photo I took on All Saints' Day on my way to Loch Insh Watersports Centre for lunch.

The footpath suggests that not may people go to this church - but it is not the main entrance!

O when the saints go marching in,
O when the saints go marching in;
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in!

It is hard to believe that this was 1 November! The crop in the field still had to be harvested and many of the leaves on the trees were still green.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Bring flowers of the fairest

Here we have a lovely image to celebrate the Day of Resurrection.

We don't often have many flowers in the Chapel - normally they are reserved for the fifty days of Eastertide, but the School authorities kindly offered me this arrangement last week - and it seemed silly to turn it down. It has certainly cheered up some dull November days!

For each perfect gift of thine
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of heaven:
Christ our God, to thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

Have a Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 11

At Pluscarden, the monks enter the Abbey church each morning to sing the praises of God.

Father, we praise thee, now the night is over,
Active and watchful, stand we all before thee;
Singing we offer prayer and meditation:
Thus we adore thee.

Monarch of all things, fit us for thy mansions;
Banish our weakness, health and wholeness sending;
Bring us to heaven, where thy Saints united
Joy without ending.

All-holy Father, Son and equal Spirit,
Trinity blessed, send us thy salvation;
Thine is the glory, gleaming and resounding
Through all creation. Amen.

It must sound wonderful as they chant these lovely words in Latin.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 10

Here is a photo of the modern Guest House for men staying at Pluscarden Abbey.

The first office of the day is at 4.45 am, and the last is at 8.00 pm. Getting up at 4.30 am cannot be easy during the long dark autumn nights!

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever child-like, no cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
Your strenth in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Autumn Glory - 9

I visited Pluscarden Abbey on All Souls' Day, and took this photo of the Abbey from the grounds of the cemetery. After Compline, the monks were due to process out of the Abbey church with lighted candles which were to be placed on each of the graves of the former monks.

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on:
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead thou me on.
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remeber not past years.

So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those Angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Inspiring words by Cardinal Newman.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 8

On the Feast of All Souls' I visited Pluscarden Abbey. I am pleased to inform both Fr Mildew and Fr Tim Finigan that I put by bike on the train and cycled from Elgin Station.

Here the Abbey is shown surrounded by trees in autumn colour. By now many of the leaves will have fallen off the trees.

To all life thou givest - to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish - but nought changeth thee.

Great words written by a Church of Scotland minister.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 7

Here is a splendid view of the River Tay taken from the grounds of the Dunkeld House Hotel.

The flowers of spring may wither, the hopes of summer fade,
The autumn droop in winter, the birds forsake the shade;
The winds be lulled, the sun and moon forget their old decree;
But we, in nature's latest hour, O Lord, will cling to thee!

Isn't it wonderful to see the mighty arm of God at work in creation?

Monday, 12 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 6

Here is an autumnal view of the Dunkeld House Hotel on the banks of the River Tay.

This is a lovely hotel to stay at - but nothing like as good as the mansions above!

Our barren hearts make fruitful
With every goodly grace,
That we thy name may hallow,
And see at last thy face.

We pray that all the faithful departed will come to see the glorious face of God.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

We will remember them

Today is the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, and at the 11th hour we will all fall silent for two minutes to remember the dead.

They shall grow not old
As we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning,

Here is a lovely scene in the Chapel of the Resurrection. On the floor around the candle stand we have the November lists. Over 150 members of the School Community have written the names of their departed loved ones and placed them in plain envelopes which are all pooled together. Above them we see the poppy wreath for Remembrance Sunday. But above the reminders of the dead we see the Paschal Candle burning brightly and pointing upwards to the Resurrection Window.

I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness,
Where is death's sting? where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy Cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
Heaven's mornng breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord,
And may light perpetual shine upon them.

May their souls,
And the souls of all the faithful departed;
Through the mercy of God,
Rest in peace. Amen.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 5

Here is the driveway leading up to the Dunkeld House Hotel - so different to the streets of Hammersmith! Life is a mixture of pain and pleasure.

O, by each mercy sent us,
And by each grief and pain,
By blessings like the sunshine,
And sorrows like the rain.

Autumn is both a glorious season and a sad one.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 4

It has been an amazing autumn so far in the East of Scotland - the warmest on record for many years. Some apple trees were still bearing fruit at the end of October.

Behold the bending orchards
With bounteous fruit are crowned;
Lord, in our hearts more richly
Let heavenly fruits abound.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 3

Here we have another lovely autumn image of the tower of Dunkeld Cathedral. The leaves on the trees were quite spectacular - complementing the dramatic architecture.

O, pour thy grace upon us,
That we may worthier be,
Each year that passes o'er us,
To dwell in heaven with thee.

A lovely thought for this month of the Holy Souls.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 2

Here we see some lovely autumn colours in the grounds of Dunkeld Cathedral on the banks of the River Tay in Scotland.

The ever-changing seasons
In silence come and go;
But thou, eternal Father,
No time or change canst know.

The Cathedral stands as a witness to this eternal truth.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Autumn Glory - 1

Here we see a creeper on the wall of the Physics Department at Latymer Upper School. During much of the year it is a not very distinguished looking green, but for a few days each Autumn it is a riot of colour. I like the green vestments of Ordinary Time, but it was good to wear cloth of gold on All Saints' Day! The whole of creation seemed to be joining in the festivities!

But All Saints' Day is followed by the Feast of All Souls', and much of November is taken up with praying for the repose of souls of the faithful departed. As Autumn draws on we are reminded that our lives on earth are running out.

The year is swiftly waning,
The summer days are past;
And life, brief life, is speeding;
The end is nearing fast.

It makes one stop and think - and pray!