Thursday, 31 January 2008

Feast of St Thomas Aquinas - 4

Here is the statue of the Saint in the church at Ham.

Thy wounds, as Thomas saw, I do not see;
Yet thee confess my Lord and God to be;
Make me believe thee ever more and more;
In thee my hope, in thee my love to store.

O thou memorial of our Lord's own dying!
O Bread that living art and vivifying!
Make ever thou my soul on thee to live;
Ever a taste of heavenly sweetness give.

O loving Pelican! O Jesus, Lord!
Unclean I am, but cleanse me in thy Blood,
Of which a single drop for sinners spilt,
Is ransom for a world's entire guilt.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Feast of St Thomas Aquinas - 3

Here is a picture of St Thomas Aquinas in the church at Ham.

O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore thee,
Who truly art within the forms before me;
To thee my heart I bow with bended knee,
As failing quite in contemplating thee.

Sight, touch, and taste in thee are each deceived;
The ear alone most safely is believed:
I believe all the Son of God has spoken,
Than Truth's own word there is no truer token.

God only on the Cross lay hid from view;
But here lies hid at once the Manhood too:
And I, in both professing my belief,
Make the same prayer as the repentant thief.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Feast of St Thomas Aquinas - 2

Here is a close up of the sanctuary at St Thomas Aquinas, Ham - prepared for Mass in the Ordinary Form (Modern Roman Rite). We see the crib beneath the altar which will remain in place until Candlemas.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God for he;
This faith each day deeper be my holding of,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then; feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseach thee send me what I long for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory's sight.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Feast of St Thomas Aquinas - 1

Here we see the church of St Thomas Aquinas, Ham in festal array, ready for the celebration of the Patronal Festival - which falls today.

St Thomas Aquinas wrote some very splendid Eucharistic hymns.

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed;
What God's Son hath told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly, or there's nothing true.

On the Cross thy Godhead made no sign to men;
Here the very Manhood steals from human ken;
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Jesus calls Simon and Andrew

As Jesus was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake - for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them,'Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men'. And at once they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:16-17)

Follow me, follow me, leave your home and family,
Leave your fishing nets and boats upon the shore.
Leave the seed you have sown,
Leave the crops that you have grown,
Leave the people you have known and follow me.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Baptism of Jesus

Here we see Jesus being baptised by John in the River Jordan. The Holy Spirit descends like a dove - the Father is well pleased!

The Lamb of God is manifest
Again in Jordan's waters blest,
And he who sin had never known
By washing hath our sins undone.

Almighty God,
who anointed Jesus at his baptism with the Holy Spirit
and revealed him as your beloved Son:
Inspire us, your children,
who are born of water and the Spirit,
to surrender our lives to your service,
that we may rejoice to be called sons of God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Hymns from different Christian Traditions - 8

Here we have a photo of Westminster Cathedral - the 'Mother Church' of Roman Catholics in England and Wales.

Today's hymn is a little different to the others this week. It is a joint effort by myself (a Roman Catholic) and Canon Michael Saward (until recently Canon Treasurer of St Paul's Cathedral (Anglican) in London). I should add that we have arranged for Jubilate Hymns to look after the copyright for us!

Last Friday the clergy, servers, and choir of St Paul's Cathedral celebrated Choral Evensong in Westminster Cathedral, and last night the clergy, servers, and choir of Westminster Cathedral celebrated Solemn Vespers in St Paul's Cathedral. It is good when we worship God together!

Let earth rejoice! Let all creation sing!
Heav'n adds its praises to the Saviour King.
Around the throne the shouts of triumph ring.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

To earth he came, a child so long ago,
Light in our darkness, grace and truth to show.
The Word of life, whose gospel now we know.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Despised, rejected, he was crucified;
Suffering Servant, on the cross he died;
True Lamb of God, salvation to provide.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

He rose again, and bursting from the grave
Reigns high in glory, who our sins forgave,
Now we rejoice, as those he came to save.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

So on this day, O Christ, our mighty King,
Let all the faithful, praise and honour bring,
Our voices blend with heaven's choirs to sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The late Abbot Alan Rees OSB composed a lovely tune for this hymn called 'Belmont Abbey'. I am hoping that Malcolm Archer (who used to be Organist and Director of Music at St Paul's Cathedral prior to moving to Winchester College) will be composing a tune for my latest hymn which is entitled 'Jesus, Son of God and Mary'. This will maintain the link between Westminster Cathedral and St Paul's Cathedral.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Hymns from different Christian Traditions - 7

Here we have a photo of inside the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Kensington, London. I very much doubt they will be celebrating Easter this year as early as 23 March!

Our chosen hymn is the Russian Contakian of the Departed.

Give rest, O Christ, to thy servants with thy Saints:
Where sorrow and pain are no more;
And neither sighing, but life everlasting.

Thou only are immortal, the Creator and Maker of man:
And we are mortal, formed of the earth,
and unto earth we return:

For thou didst ordain, when thou createdst me, saying,
Dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return.
All we go down to the dust; and, weeping o'er the grave, we make our song:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Apologies to those of you who are following the Old Rite!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Hymns from different Christian Traditions - 6

As we are meant to be charitable to our neighbours this week, I had better include a photo of a church in Lancashire. Obviously, as I am Yorkshireman, this goes a little against the grain. I had wanted to have 'O'er heathen lands afar thick darkness broodeth yet' as my chosen hymn - but thought better of it!

This is a photo of Lancaster Methodist Church - so we must have a Wesley hymn - but which one? I have chosen a favourite in the Chapel of the Resurrection - the Easter hymn - Love's redeeming work is done. Charles Wesley lived between 1707 and 1798.

Love's redeeming work is done;
Fought the fight, the battle won:
Lo, our Sun's eclipse is o'er!
Lo, he sets in blood no more!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal,
Christ has burst the gates of hell;
Death in vain forbids his rise;
Christ has opened Paradise.

Lives again our glorious King;
Where, O Death, is now thy sting?
Dying once, he all doth save;
Where thy victory, O grave?

Soar we now where Christ has led,
Following our exalted Head;
Made like him, like him we rise;
Our the cross, the grave, the skies.

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven!
Praise to thee by both be given:
Thee we greet triumphant now;
Hail, the Resurrection thou!

It wont be long before we are singing this hymn. Easter Sunday is exactly two months away!

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Hymns from different Christian Traditions - 5

Here we have a photo of inside St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh - the High Kirk of the Church of Scotland. My word, how things have changed in recent years! This could almost be taken for a Catholic Church - we must rejoice how the different denominations are starting to become less suspicious of each other.

Our hymn from the Presbyterian tradition is the ever popular 'Immortal, invisible, God only wise.' It was written by Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908) who was Moderator of the Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in its Jubilee year (1893). This hymn was a favourite of the late Cardinal Basil Hume. He would rarely sing a hymn during Mass - but always made an exception for this one!

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unrersting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

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

Great Father of Glory, pure Father of Light,
Thine Angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
'Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

A truly great hymn. I'm sure Basil is bathing in the light right now!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Hymns from different Christian Traditions - 4

Here we see a photo of Emmanuel United Reformed Church in Cambridge.

Philip Doddridge (1702-51) was part of the non-conformist tradition which eventually became part of the URC, and he was a prolific hymn writer. Here is one of his hymns.

O God of Bethel, by whose hand
Thy people still are fed,
Who through this weary pilgrimage
Hast all our father led.

Our vows, our prayers, we now present
Before thy throne of grace;
God of our fathers, be the God
Of their succeeding race.

Through each perplexing path of life
Our wandering footsteps guide;
Give us each day our daily bread,
And raiment fit provide.

O spread thy covering wings around,
Till all our strivings cease,
And at our Father's loved abode
Our souls arrive in peace.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Hymns from different Christian Traditions - 3

Here is a photo of Beechen Grove Baptist Church, in Watford.

Here is a lovely children's hymn written by Carey Bonner, who was President of the Baptist Union in 1931-2.

Praise him, praise him,
Everybody praise him!
God is love, God is love.
Praise him, praise him,
Everybody praise him!.
God is love, God is love.

Thank him, thank him,
Everybody thank him!
God is love, God is love.
Thank him, thank him,
Everybody thank him!
God is love, God is love.

Love him, love him,
Everybody love him!
God is love, God is love.
Love him, love him,
Everybody love him!
God is love, God is love.

Serve him, serve him,
Everybody serve him!
God is love, God is love.
Serve him, serve him,
Everybody serve him!
God is love, God is love.
Simple - but excellent.

We have Fr Mildew looking after us this weekend at St Thomas Aquinas, Ham - his blog informs me that the heating has broken down. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Hymns from different Christian Traditions - 2 - and my view on Septuagesima!

Here we have a photo of the Lutheran Church in Leeds at Christmas. A great city - the place of my birth! Our hymn today is a Christmas Carol written by Martin Luther, 1483-1546.

All praise to Thee, eternal God,
Who, clothed in garb of flesh and blood,
Dost take a manger for Thy throne,
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone.

Once did the skies before Thee bow;
A virgin's arms contain Thee now,
While angels, who in Thee rejoice,
Now listen for Thine infant voice.

A little Child, Thou art our Guest
That weary ones in Thee may rest;
Forlorn and lowly is Thy birth
That we may rise to heaven from earth.

Thou comest in the darksome night
To make us children of the light,
To make us in the realms divine,
Like Thine own angels, round Thee shine.

All this for us Thy love hath done;
By This to Thee our love is won;
For this our joyful songs we raise
And shout our thanks in ceaseless praise.

Those who know me will be aware that I love hymns with lots of alleluias! Indeed, the Easter Octave will see a festal series of blogs on this joyful word.

For those who follow the Old Rite, today is the final day before Easter to sing or say 'alleluia', for tomorrow is Septuagesima. As I follow the New Rite, I shall be keeping tomorrow as the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time and so have a few more days of alleluias to enjoy before Lent begins on 6 February. I have nothing against the Old Rite - indeed my own parish has an Old Rite Mass every Sunday, but going back to my Anglican days in the 1960's, I always found the idea of the 'gesimas' rather daft! Surely the two Roman Calendars should be brought into line with each other?

Friday, 18 January 2008

Hymns from different Christian Traditions - 1

Here we have a photo of Canterbury Cathedral - it is floodlit, and we can see the Christmas tree and outdoor crib. Canterbury Cathedral is a Church of England (Anglican) building, and I have chosen 'As with gladness men of old' by W Chatterton Dix as our hymn for today. The author, who was educated at Bristol Grammar School, became the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow. He lived between 1837 and 1898.

As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold,
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright,
So, most gracious God, may we
Evermore be led to thee.

As with joyful steps they sped,
To that lowly manger-bed,
There to bend the knee before
Him whom heaven and earth adore,
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek thy mercy-seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy,
Pure, and free from sin's alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to thee our heavenly King.

Holy Jesu, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down:
There for ever may we sing
Alleluias to our King.

What a fantastic Epiphany hymn!

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 19

Here we see the boy Jesus in the Temple when he was 12 years old - Mary and Joseph seem very puzzled!

Behold a little Child,
Laid in a manger bed;
The wintry blasts blow wild
Around his infant head.
But who is this so lowly laid?
'Tis he by whom the worlds were made.

Alas! in what poor state
The Son of God is seen;
Why doth the Lord so great
Choose out a home so mean?
That we may learn from pride to flee,
And follow his humility.

Where Joseph plies his trade,
Lo! Jesus labours too;
The hands that all things made
An earthly craft pursue,
That weary men in him may rest,
And faithful toil through him be blest.

Among the doctors see
The Boy so full of grace;
Say, wherefore taketh he
The scholar's lowly place?
That Christian boys, with reverence meet,
May sit and learn at Jesus' feet.

Christ! once thyself a boy,
Our boyhood guard and guide;
Be thou its light and joy,
And still with us abide,
That thy dear love, so great and free,
May draw us evermore to thee.

Tomorrow sees the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and I shall be starting a new mini-series of postings - Hymns from different Christian Traditions.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 18

Here we see a photo of the poster depicting the flight into Egypt. Little Jesus is snugly at rest in his Mother's cloak.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem,
Fair peace on earth to bring,
In lowly state of love he came
To be the children's King.

A mother's heart was there his throne,
His orb a maiden's breast.
Whereby he made through love alone
His kingdom manifest.

And round him, then, a holy band
Of children blest was born,
Fair guardians of his throne to stand
Attendant night and morn.

And unto them this grace was given
A Saviour's name to own,
And die for him who out of heaven
Had found on earth a throne.

O blessed babes of Bethlehem,
Who died to save our King,
Ye share the Martyrs' diadem,
And in their anthems sing!

Your lips, on earth that never spake,
Now sound the eternal word;
And in the courts of love ye make
Your children's voices heard.

Lord Jesus Christ, eternal Child,
Make thou our childhood thine;
That we with these the meek and mild
May share the love divine.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 17

Here we see Baby Jesus being presented in the Temple when he was forty days old. I like this poster - because Jesus appears to be left-handed - just like myself!

Angels, from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation's story
Now proclaim Messiah's birth:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds in the fields abiding,
Watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant Light:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of Nations;
Ye have seen his natal star:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In his temple shall appear:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Though an infant now we view him,
He shall fill his Father's throne,
Gather all the nations to him;
Every knee shall then bow down:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 16

Here we see the Christmas tree in the Chapel. Nature tends to look a little weary during these winter months, but it is as if the trees of the forest are shouting for joy at the birth of the Saviour!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev'ry heart prepare him room,
And heav'n and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns!
Let all their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness
And wonders of his love.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 15

Here we have a lovely photo of Our Lady with the Christ Child in St Thomas Aquinas Church, Ham. I love this statue, and somehow feel that Our Lady approves of it! It is very much how I picture her. And isn't Jesus adorable?

Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a Mother laid her Baby
In a manger for his bed:
Mary was that Mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And his shelter was a stable,
And his cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

And through all his wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love, and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms he lay;
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as he.

For he is our childhood's pattern,
Day by day like us he grew,
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us he knew;
And he feeleth for our sadness,
And he shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see him.
Through his own redeeming love,
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above;
And he leads his children on
To the place where he is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see him; but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
When like stars his children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

I think this is one of the finest hymns ever written.

Happy Feast!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 14

Like a candle flame,
Flickering small in our darkness,
Uncreated light
Shines in infant eyes.

God is with us, alleluia!
Come to save us, alleluia!

Stars and angels sing,
Yet the earth
Sleeps in shadows;
Can this tiny spark
Set a world on fire?

God is with us, alleluia!
Come to save us, alleluia!

Yet his light shall shine
From our lives,
Spirit blazing,
As we touch the flame
Of his holy fire.

God is with us, alleluia!
Come to save us, alleluia!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 13

At present the Chapel of the Resurrection is full of light - the fully lit Advent Wreath, the lights around the Crib, and the lights on the Christmas Tree. It all looks most festive and brightens up the bleak midwinter!

On Christmas night all Christians sing,
To hear the news the angels bring,
News of great joy, news of great mirth,
News of our merciful King's birth.

Then why should we on earth be so sad,
Since our Redeemer made us glad,
When from our sins he set us free,
All for to gain our liberty?

When sin departs before his grace,
Then life and health come in its place;
Heaven and earth with joy may sing,
All for to see the new-born King.

All out of darkness we have light,
Which made the angels sing this night;
'Glory to God, and peace to men,
Now and for evermore. Amen'.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 12

Here we see the sanctuary at St Thomas Aquinas Church, Ham. We see baby Jesus in the crib underneath the altar, the crucified Jesus on the cross, and the risen Lord Jesus in the tabernacle.

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby baby, now reclining, sing lullaby!
Hush, do not wake the Infant King.
Angels are watching, stars are shining
Over the place where he is lying:
Sing lullaby!

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby baby, now a sleeping, sing lullaby!
Hush do not wake the Infant King.
Soon will come sorrow with the morning,
Soon will come bitter grief and weeping:
Sing lullaby!

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby baby, now a dozing, sing lullaby!
Hush do not wake the Infant King.
Soon comes the cross, the nails, the piercing,
Then in the grave at last reposing:
Sing lullaby!

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby! is the babe a waking? sing lullaby!
Hush, do not stir the Infant King.
Dreaming of Easter, gladsome morning,
Conquering Death, its bondage breaking:
Sing lullaby!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 11

Here we have a photo of the crib in the Chapel of the Resurrection which includes the three wise men.

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid;
Star of the east, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant redeemer is laid.

Cold on his cradle the dew-drops are shining,
Low lies his head with the beasts of the stall,
Angels adore him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Saviour of all.

Say, shall we yield him, in costly devotion,
Odours of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest or gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would his favour secure;
Richer by far is the heart's adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

To think, when I was at school, our Maths teacher used to refer to our set as the 'Dullest and worst of the sons of the evening.' I wouldn't have minded - but Maths was my best subject!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 10

Here we have a photo of the thurifer and boat boy at the Epiphany Mass at Ham. They have prepared the thurible with plenty of hot charcoal and are waiting for the priest to bless the incense.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Bow down before him, his glory proclaim;
With gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness,
Kneel and adore him, the Lord is his name!

Low at his feet lay thy burden of carefulness,
High on his heart he will bear it for thee,
Comfort thy sorrows, and answer thy prayerfulness,
Guiding thy steps as may best for thee be.

Fear not to enter his courts in the slenderness
Of the poor wealth thou wouldst reckon as thine:
Truth in its beauty, and love in its tenderness,
These are the offerings to lay on his shrine.

These, though we bring them with trembling and fearfulness,
He will accept for the name that is dear;
Mornings of joy give for evenings of tearfulness,
Trust for our trembling and hope for our fear.

O woship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Bow down before him, his glory proclaim;
With gold of obedience , and incense of lowliness,
Kneel and adore him, the Lord is his name!

It is good to see altar serving of such a high standard.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 9

Here we see photos of the three wise men in the crib at Ham.

This wise man is presenting gold.

This wise man is presenting myrrh.

This wise man is presenting frankincense.

Bethlehem, of noblest cities
None can once with thee compare;
Thou alone the Lord from heaven
Didst for us incarnate bear.

Fairer than the sun at morning
Was the star that told his birth;
To the lands their God announcing,
Hid beneath a form of earth.

By its lambent beauty guided
See the eastern kings appear;
See them bend, their gifts to offer,
Gifts of incense, gold and myrrh.

Solemn things of mystic meaning:
Incense doth the God disclose,
Gold a royal child proclaimeth,
Myrrh a future tomb foreshows.

Holy Jesu, in thy brightness
To the Gentile world displayed,
With the Father and the Spirit
Endless praise to thee be paid.

Excellent words written by Prudentius, who was born in the year 348.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 8

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and think of the three wise men following the star to Bethlehem.

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star:

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright;
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light!

Born a king on Bethlehem plain,
Gold I bring to crown him again-
King for ever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign:

Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense own a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising gladly raising,
Worship him, God Most High:

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb:

Glorious now, behold him arise,
King, and God, and Sacrifice!
Heaven sings alleluia!
Alleluia! the earth replies:

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright;
Westweard leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light!

Happy Feast!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 7

Here we have a lovely display of winter foliage and berries on a window ledge in the church at Ham.

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown;
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown:

O the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily-flower;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour:

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good:

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day at dawn:

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all:

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown;
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown:

O the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

A fun carol - with a serious message!

Friday, 4 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 6

Today's carol thinks about the shepherds who went to Bethlehem. Here we have a lovely photo from the crib at Ham of a shepherd boy - standing just outside the stable.

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this day,
To save us all from Satan's power
When we had gone astray:

O tidings of comfort and joy!

From God our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came,
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name:

O tidings of comfort and joy!

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm, and wind;
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessed babe to find:

O tidings of comfort and joy!

But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this infant lay,
They found him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary, kneeling down,
Unto her Lord did pray:

O tidings of comfort and joy!

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace.
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth efface:

O tidings of comfort and joy!

This carol needs to be sung at a swift tempo!

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 5

Here is a photo of the crib at St Thomas Aquinas Church, Ham - where I am deacon.

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing alleluia;
Christ the Saviour is born!
Christ the Saviour is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, loves pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

A simple, yet profound carol. Small wonder it is so popular!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 4

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head:
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky,
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.

I really like this carol! It is not often that we tell Jesus - so simply - that we love him!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Christmas Carols - 3

Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us'. So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.

When the crimson sun had set,
Sinking 'neath the frosty plain,
On a bright and cold midnight
Broke the glad angelic strain:

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds watching by their flocks,
Upward look with wond'ring gaze,
In the sky bright hosts espy,
Filling all the heav'nly ways:

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Hie they then with quick accord,
Hasting to the manger-throne,
Bending low with hearts aglow,
God of God the Babe they own:

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Joy with us, good Christians all,
Christ is come to set us free;
He was born on Christmas morn,
Sing the glad nativity:

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

This carol is not sung much in England - but is very popular in Ireland.

Happy New Year!