Sunday, 30 November 2008

Hills of the North, rejoice


Well, here is the view from my new bedroom window (taken during the construction stage at the end of July). I look across the Moray Firth to the Black Isle - to the hills of the north. Hence the new title for my blog!

Hills of the North, rejoice;
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Though absent long, your Lord is nigh;
He judgment brings and victory.

Isles of the southern seas,
Deep in your coral caves
Pent be each warring breeze,
Lulled be your restless waves:
He comes to reign with boundless sway,
And makes your wastes His great highway.

Lands of the East, awake,
Soon shall your sons be free;
The sleep of ages break,
And rise to liberty.
On your far hills, long cold and grey,
Has dawned the everlasting day.

Shores of the utmost West,
Ye that have waited long,
Unvisited, unblest,
Break forth to swelling song;
High raise the note, that Jesus died,
Yet lives and reigns, the Crucified.

Shout, while ye journey home;
Songs be in every mouth;
Lo, from the North we come,
From East, and West, and South.
City of God, the bond are free,
We come to live and reign in thee!

These splendid words by C E Oakley (1832-65) are usually sung to the tune 'Little Cornard' by Martin Shaw (1875-1958).

During the weekdays of Advent (except on Christmas Eve) we shall be following the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. We shall start tomorrow with the First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 17

'Goodbye And Good Luck Deacon Peter'. What a kind message!

Of course, as Christians we don't really rely on luck - rather on God's blessing. So may I ask for your prayers as I start my new life in the Scottish Highlands? At the beginning of a new Church Year, the blog will take on a new title 'Hills of the North, Rejoice!' - which is the opening line of a great Advent hymn. How very appropriate!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Farewell to Ham -16

What a happy scene!

A special cake was prepared for the occasion, and here I am 'enthroned' on my new chair and about to eat it. Then I was told I was meant to share it with everyone! It was delicious.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Farewell to Ham -15

St Thomas's has had a weekly Tridentine Mass for the past ten years, and it was good having Christine (who is a member of the Latin Mass Society) present at my leaving do.

In fact I a most grateful to Chris, because she took most of the photographs at the Mass and party afterwards.


I had been a little concerned about my ability to keep this blog going in the Scottish Highlands - would I be able to get a broadband connection? My fears were unfounded - I moved into my new home on Tuesday, and BT installed my broadband on Thursday! It is good when organisations work so efficiently. The blog will appear under its new title on Advent Sunday. Also, in keeping with Vatican guidelines, I shall be adopting a more sombre colour scheme for the blog during the seasons of Advent and Lent.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Farewell to Ham -14

At least Fr Walter was in black for the occasion...

...though come to think of it, he is most of the time! He told me that he really enjoyed my leaving do - and I am sure he meant that in a nice way!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 13

You don't get '3 Hail Mary's and a Glory be' at our church as your penance - oh no! you get hard labour. These three ladies had been caught yawning during one of the deacon's forty minute homilies.

I am proud to say that the lady in the middle is one of the 31 people it has been my privilege to baptise during my time at Ham. She is an extremely generous person - as are the other two helpers. Maria (on the left) is our sacristan and flower lady. She spends hours every week in the service of the Church.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 12

You cannot keep everyone happy - there's always someone who spoils the fun.

Here we see a rather demanding gentleman giving the head waiter a hard time. Really, such people should stay at home!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Feast of Christ the King

On this, the final Sunday of the Church's Year, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.

Today is my last Sunday at St Thomas Aquinas Church, Ham and for our final hymn we are singing the hymn which I wrote with Canon Michael Saward. It is very suitable for this feast.

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!

Text © Copyright Peter Simpson & Michael Saward/Jubilate Hymns

Happy Feast!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 11

A general view of the happy throng.

The catering arrangements were absolutely superb. We know that our patron was very fat, so we think it is important to eat well at our parish feasts. St Thomas Aquinas would approve!

Onward then, ye people,
Join our happy throng.
Blend with us your voices
In the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honour,
Unto Christ the King!
This through endless ages,
Men and angels sing.

Tomorrow is of course the Feast of Christ the King.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 10

To be fair, one person looked a little sad...

...but that was probably because his wine glass was empty!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 9

Some of the adults were determined to have a good time!

In fact the atmosphere in the hall was far too festive for my liking - I had expected a more sombre mood, with plenty of tears over my leaving. Anyone would have thought they were glad to see the back of me.

Only joking!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 8

Some people really dressed up for the occasion!

I was delighted that so many children were allowed to stay up late for the party. They behaved really well, and some of them acted as waiters and waitresses.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 7

My favourite starter - smoked salmon! I was obviously drinking both red and white wine - because I certainly would not have drunk white wine with the main course, which was a beef dish. Mercifully (for the other guests) I was not required to make an after dinner speech!

The gentleman in the foreground is Peter Mann, our former Organist and Choirmaster.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 5

As you can see, I am delighted with the chair. Perhaps it is not as grand as the throne of David - but it isn't bad!

Jerusalem the golden, with milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O I know not, what joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory, what bliss beyond compare.

They stand, those halls of Zion, all jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel, and all the martyr throng;
The Prince is ever in them, the daylight is serene.
The pastures of the blessèd are decked in glorious sheen.

There is the throne of David, and there, from care released,
The shout of them that triumph, the song of them that feast;
And they, who with their Leader, have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever are clad in robes of white.

O sweet and blessèd country, shall I ever see thy face?
O sweet and blessèd country, shall I ever win thy grace?
Exult, O dust and ashes, the Lord shall be thy part:
His only, His forever thou shalt be, and thou art.

I told you my new conservatory is very splendid! Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 4

During the notices at the end of the Mass (before the arrival of the piper) Fr Walter presented me with a chair for my new conservatory in Inverness. In fact the parishioners have bought me four matching chairs and a table - how very generous!

To be honest (unlike the arrival of the piper) this didn't come as a complete surprise, because I had been asked what I wanted by way of a leaving gift. The table and chairs will look great in my new home and will be a lovely reminder of 17 happy years at St Thomas Aquinas Church, Ham. They are due for delivery in Scotland the week beginning Sunday 7 December - in time for Christmas. The chair is incredibly comfortable - as many people can confirm - for it was left in the sanctuary for a week for people to try out! The chair was only a sample - I am getting four brand new ones.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 3

Here is the piper waiting for a note from the organist for the final hymn at the end of Mass - 'All things bright and beautiful'.

I'm sorry - but I could not keep a straight face. This would not happen at Westminster Cathedral!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 2

Whilst I like the sound of bagpipes, I'm not too keen on them as an accompaniment to Gregorian Chant!

As you can guess - the Parish Priest (Fr Walter Walsh) and Parishioners of St Thomas Aquinas Ham sprang a surprise on me, and arranged for a piper to be present at Mass. It was a good job this Mass was in the Modern Rite - it would not have gone down well at our weekly Old Rite Mass - which is usually celebrated by Fr Mildew!

I don't think Len our organist was too pleased - the piper literally drowned him out! To be fair, he was a brilliant piper - I understand he plays at prestige events at Harrods.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Farewell to Ham - 1

I shall finally be leaving London for the Scottish Highlands on 25 November.

In the meantime the Deacon of Ham is having private bagpipe lessons!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Remembrance Day

Today, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we will fall silent for 2 minutes as we remember those who gave up their lives in the service of their country.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home:

Under the shadow of thy throne,
thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting thou art God,
to endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly, forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
be thou our guide while troubles last,
and our eternal home!

Monday, 10 November 2008

St Chad

Another of my favourite English saints is Chad - a name which I chose for my confirmation name.

This photo is of Lichfield Cathedral. Chad was at one time Bishop of Lichfield.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

The Lateran Basilica

Today, the Church celebrates the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. This is the Cathedral Church of Rome - where Pope Benedict XVI has his bishop's chair. Today we celebrate our unity with the Bishop of Rome.

Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone,
chosen of the Lord, and precious,
binding all the Church in one;
holy Zion's help for ever,
and her confidence alone.

All that dedicated city,
dearly loved of God on high,
in exultant jubilation
pours perpetual melody;
God the One in Three adoring
in glad hymns eternally.

To this temple, where we call thee,
come, O Lord of Hosts, today;
with thy wonted loving-kindness
hear thy servants as they pray,
and thy fullest benediction
shed within its walls alway.

Here vouchsafe to all thy servants
what they ask of thee of gain;
what they gain from thee, for ever
with the blessèd to retain,
and hereafter in thy glory
evermore with thee to reign.

Laud and honor to the Father,
laud and honor to the Son,
laud and honor to the Spirit,
ever Three, and ever One,
consubstantial, co-eternal,
while unending ages run.

Happy Feast!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

St Aidan

One of my favourite saints of England is St Aidan - whose feast is celebrated on 31 August.

Here we see a photo of his statue on Holy Island - Lindisfarne. As a boy I worshipped at St Aidan's Church in Leeds and have most happy memories of that vibrant parish. We always had a pilgrimage to Holy Island on the last Saturday in August.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Psalm 132

O Lord, remember in David’s favour
all the hardships he endured;
how he swore to the Lord
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
‘I will not enter my house
or get into my bed;
I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling-place for the Mighty One of Jacob.’

We heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
‘Let us go to his dwelling-place;
let us worship at his footstool.’

Rise up, O Lord, and go to your resting-place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your faithful shout for joy.
For your servant David’s sake
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

The Lord swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
‘One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant
and my decrees that I shall teach them,
their sons also, for evermore,
shall sit on your throne.’

For the Lord has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his habitation:
‘This is my resting-place for ever;
here I will reside, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless its provisions;
I will satisfy its poor with bread.
Its priests I will clothe with salvation,
and its faithful will shout for joy.
There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.
His enemies I will clothe with disgrace,
but on him, his crown will gleam.’

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Psalm 136

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;

who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever;

who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;

who spread out the earth on the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;

who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever;

the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever;

the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;

who struck Egypt through their firstborn, for his steadfast love endures forever;

and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures forever;

with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever;

who divided the Red Sea in two, for his steadfast love endures forever;

and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever;

but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever;

who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever;

who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;

and killed famous kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his steadfast love endures forever;

and Og, king of Bashan, for his steadfast love endures forever;

and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever;

a heritage to his servant Israel, for his steadfast love endures forever.

It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;

and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever;

who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Psalm 23

Today we have one of the most popular psalms of all - the 23rd.

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;

He restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Monday, 3 November 2008

All Souls' Day

The glory and joy of All Saints' Day is followed by the more sombre mood of All Souls' Day.

Today we pray for all the souls in purgatory that they will soon be with the saints in glory.

Let saints on earth in concert sing
with those who work is done;
for all the servants of our King
in heaven and earth are one.

One family, we dwell in him,
one Church, above, beneath,
though now divided by the stream,
the narrow stream of death.

One army of the living God,
to his command we bow;
part of the host have crossed the flood,
and part are crossing now.

E'en now to their eternal home
there pass some spirits blest;
while others to the margin come,
waiting their call to rest.

Jesus, be thou our constant Guide;
then, when the word is given,
bid Jordan's narrow stream divide,
and bring us safe to heaven.

Wonderful words by Charles Wesley.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

All Saints' Day

Today the Church celebrates one of my favourite days of the year.

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Happy Feast!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Psalm 104

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honour and majesty,wrapped in light as with a garment.

You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
You set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
You make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind,
You make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers.
You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they flee; at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills,
Giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst.
By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth,
And wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.
The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens.
People go out to their work and to their labour until the evening.

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
When you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
When you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—
Who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.
Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!