Thursday, 31 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 23

We have now reached the Forewall Battery. this was built in the 1540s, approximately on the line of the medieval defences. It is now armed with cast-iron guns made during the wears with Napoleonic France.

The iron basket on the Forewall Battery was used to raise the alarm in an emergency.

King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

Others said, “He is Elijah.”

And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”

But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”

For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.

Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”

“The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.

At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
(Mark 6:14-29)

Time for our hymn.

O God of earth and altar,
bow down and hear our cry,
our earthly rulers falter,
our people drift and die;
the walls of gold entomb us,
the swords of scorn divide,
take not thy thunder from us,
but take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
from lies of tongue and pen,
from all the easy speeches
that comfort cruel men,
from sale and profanation
of honor, and the sword,
from sleep and from damnation,
deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
the prince and priest and thrall,
bind all our lives together,
smite us and save us all;
in ire and exultation
aflame with faith, and free,
lift up a living nation,
a single sword to thee.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 22

As we climb higher towards Crown Square, we gaze on the dog cemetery.

The British are renowned for their love of dogs, and this little cemetery is proof. Since the 1840's it has served as a burial place for regimental mascots and officers' pet dogs.

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
(Mark 6:1-13)

Time for our hymn!

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 strength 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.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 21

We have once more passed through Foog's Gate (which we admired on Friday 11 March) and have arrived at Mons Meg.

Mons Meg was presented to James II of Scotland in 1457, a gift from his niece's husband, Duke Philip of Burgundy. The six-tonne siege gun was then known simply as 'Mons' - after the Belgium town where she was made in 1449. She was at the leading edge of artillery technology, and fired gun-stones weighing 330lbs (150kg).

Mons Meg had a range of almost two miles (3.2km). When she was fired in 1558 to celebrate Mary Queen of Scots' marriage to the French Dauphin, the gun-stone was later found where the Royal Botanic Garden is today. Mons Meg was last fired on 14 October 1681 - when her barrel burst.

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
(Mark 5:21-43)

Time for a great Wesley hymn!

O for a thousand tongues to sing
my dear Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!

Jesus! the Name that charms our fears
and bids our sorrows cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life and health and peace.

He speaks, and listening to his voice,
new life the dead receive;
the mournful broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.

Hear him, ye deaf; his praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold, your Savior come;
and leap, ye lame, for joy!

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim
and spread through all the earth abroad
the honours of thy Name.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 20

Here we see the Royal Scots Museum.

The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) is the oldest infantry regiment in the British Army. It was officially raised in 1633 by Sir John Hepburn to serve Louis XIII of France - with the blessing of King Charles I. In 1661, when Charles II was restored to the thrones of Scotland, England and Ireland, the Royal Scots too returned home to serve their king.

In World War I the regiment expanded to 35 battalions, with over 11,000 killed and 40,000 wounded. the six Victoria Crosses won during the hideous conflict are on display.

I am honoured to have been made a member of the Royal Scots Club. Our club headquarters are in Abercromby Place and our Patron is HRH The Princess Royal. Here is a photo of me entertaining my sister and brother-in-law to lunch at the club a few months ago.

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
(Mark 5:1-20)

Time for another hymn.

Be Thou my guardian and my guide;
And hear me when I call;
Let not my slippery footsteps slide,
And hold me lest I fall.

The world, the flesh, and Satan dwell
Around the path I tread;
O, save me from the snares of hell,
Thou quickener of the dead.

And if I tempted am to sin,
And outward things are strong,
Do Thou, O Lord, keep watch within,
And save my soul from wrong.

Still let me ever watch and pray,
And feel that I am frail;
that if the tempter cross my way,
Yet he may not prevail.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 19

Independent museums devoted to two of Scotland's oldest regiments are housed in the New Barracks and the Drill Hall opposite. The museum we shall be visiting tomorrow is particularly important to myself. Here we see the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum.

The museum tells the regiment's history from the bloody European wars of the 18th and 19th centuries to the global struggles of recent decades. Its most recent battle honours were awarded after the first Gulf War of 1991 and Iraq 2003.

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
(Mark 4:35-41)

Time now for our hymn!

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy Word,
Who walked on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our family shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect us wheresoever we go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 18

Looming up behind the Governor's House is the enormous New Barracks, built during the wars with Napoleonic France. Work began in 1796, the year Napoleon married Josephine and swept through northern Italy. It was finished in 1799, the year the great general became undisputed leader of his country. The vast building houses an infantry battalion (600 officers and men).

It is hard to see from this photo that in fact this is seven-storey building! However, if you stood at the rear of the building, you would believe this fact.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
(Mark 4:26-34)

Time for our hymn!

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the gl
orious harvest home.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 17

From our Lenten prison cell, it is good to remind ourselves of how the other half live! The pleasing Georgian residence halfway up the hill from Mills Mount Battery was built in 1742 for the castle governor. Lodgings for his principal staff officers, the master gunner and storekeeper, were provided in the two wings. After the post of governor was abolished in 1860, nursing sisters from the castle hospital used the building. Today, it serves as an officer's mess and residence for the governor, a Crown appointment restored for purely ceremonial purposes in 1935.

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”

“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
(Mark 4:21-25)

It is time for our hymn - and today we will sing the Song of Mary.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age to same;
his holy Name--the Lord, the Mighty One.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.

Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children's children and for evermore!

Well, on this glorious festival day I have one more surprise for you! You are going to see what it would be like to be received like royalty at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo!

Private coach transfer and VIP access to the Castle esplanade, bypassing the queue
Drinks reception on the Castle battlements
A three course dinner with fine wines, followed by coffee, all served in the private rooms of the Castle Gatehouse
Emerge from the Castle Drawbridge and be escorted across the Castle Esplanade just before the start of the performance
VIP seat in the Tattoo Guest Box for the duration of the performance
The services of a Tattoo hospitality host
Complimentary copy of the official souvenir programme
Tattoo gift bag
An invitation to the Producer's post-show drinks and canapé reception

Price - £382 per person (plus VAT).

Happy Feast!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 16

Here we are back at the National War Museum - you may remember we were last here on Saturday 12 March. As explained earlier, this opened in 1933. The first home for the Museum had been in the Queen Anne Building, but the impetus for the new home was the opening of the Scottish National War Memorial in 1927. The War Memorial and the new War Museum were both seen as a fitting and lasting tribute to the sacrifice made by Scottish men and women during the First World War. One in five Scots who enlisted in the armed services never made it home - a sobering statistic.

By visiting the National War Museum you can explore over 400 years of the Scottish military experience. Uncover stories of courage and determination, victory and defeat, heroics and heartbreak and find out how war has left its mark on Scotland's history, image and reputation abroad.

Things to see include: uniforms, insignia and equipment, medals, decorations, weapons, paintings, ceramics and silverware, all of which throw light on Scotland 's military history, from world-changing events to the everyday life of Scottish servicemen.

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
(Mark 4:1-20)

Let us now sing one of my favourite hymns - I have chosen it as one of the four hymns to be sung at my funeral, and have asked to have the last four lines written on my headstone.

O Jesus, I have promised
to serve thee to the end:
be thou ever near me,
my Master and my friend;
I shall not fear the battle
if thou art by my side,
nor wander from the pathway
if thou wilt be my guide.

O let me feel thee near me!
The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
the tempting sounds I hear;
my foes are ever near me,
around me and within;
but Jesus, draw thou nearer,
and shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear thee speaking
in accents clear and still,
above the storms of passion,
the murmurs of self-will;
O speak to reassure me,
to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen,
thou guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, thou hast promised
to all who follow thee,
that where thou art in glory
there shall thy servant be;
and, Jesus I have promised
to serve thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow,
my Master and my friend.

O let me see thy footmarks,
and in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly
is in thy strength alone.
O guide me, call me, draw me,
uphold me to the end;
and then in heaven receive me,
my Saviour and my Friend.

And now you know which tune I want!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 15

On Mills Mount Battery, to the right of the Cartshed, stands the One o'Clock Gun.

This gun is fired at 1300 hours every day, except:


Good Friday

Christmas Day

The citizens of Edinburgh check their watches; visitors jump out of their skins! The first firing took place in June 1861, and it has continued uninterrupted ever since, except for periods during the two World Wars. The present gun is a 105mm field gun, installed in 2001.

Via a staircase on Mills Mount Battery you can access the Lower Defences, directly below the Argyle Battery. From this two-gun battery you can enjoy an uninterrupted view over the city.

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Mark 3:20-34)

Let's now sing our hymn!

He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound - his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight,
He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.

Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
We know we at the end, shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,
I’ll labour night and day to be a pilgrim.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 14

Just beyond the Argyle Battery is an 18th-century building which now houses the Redcoat Cafe. It was built as a Cartshed in 1746, following the Battle of Culloden, which ended the fifth and final Jacobite Rising. By this date, the castle was crammed with soldiers, and the structure, originally open-fronted, held 50 carts that brought provisions up from the town to the garrison.

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Mark 3:13-19)

Let us now sing this fabulous acrostic on Saint Bartholomew.

Saints of God! Lo, Jesus' people
age to age your glory tell;
in his name for us ye labored,
now in bliss eternal dwell.

Twelve poor men, by Christ anointed,
braved the rich, the wise, the great,
all the world counts dear rejecting,
rapt in their apostolate.

Thus the earth their death-wounds purchased,
hallowed by the blood therefrom,
on her bosom bore the nations,
laved, illumined--Christendom.

On this feast, almighty Father,
may we praise thee with the Son,
evermore his love confessing,
who from both with both is one.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 13

Of your charity please pray for the repose of the soul of my stepfather (John) who died at around 11.00 pm on Sunday 20 March. He endured his illness with great courage and gentleness. He was 84 years of age. May he rest in peace.

Please also pray for my mother (Jean) - my parents both moved into the same Nursing Home last November. My mother is aged 90 and this is the second time she has been widowed. Please also remember my sister Wendy in your prayers, and of course myself.

The lovely photo above was taken at Dunkeld Station in August 2007. PLEASE CLICK ON THE PHOTO FOR A LARGER IMAGE. My mother took the photo - and I know she was very proud of it!

The remainder of the post for today was written a few days ago.

Here we see the Argyle Battery. This six-gun battery, opposite the Lang Stairs, was built in the 1730's. It was named after John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, who defeated the Jacobites at Sheriffmuir in 1715. The battery was built on the orders of Major-General George Wade, better known for his military roads in the Scottish Highlands.

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.
(Mark 3:1-12)

Songs of thankfulness and praise,
Jesus, Lord, to thee we raise,
manifested by the star
to the sages from afar;
branch of royal David's stem
in thy birth at Bethlehem;
anthems be to thee addressed,
God in man made manifest.

Manifest at Jordan's stream,
Prophet, Priest and King supreme;
and at Cana, wedding guest,
in thy Godhead manifest;
manifest in power divine,
changing water into wine;
anthems be to thee addressed,
God in man made manifest.

Manifest in making whole
palsied limbs and fainting soul;
manifest in valiant fight,
quelling all the devil's might;
manifest in gracious will,
ever bringing good from ill;
anthems be to thee addressed,
God in man made manifest.

Sun and moon shall darkened be,
stars shall fall, the heavens shall flee;
Christ will then like lightning shine,
all will see his glorious sign;
all will then the trumpet hear,
all will see the Judge appear;
thou by all wilt be confessed,
God in man made manifest.

Grant us grace to see thee, Lord,
mirrored in thy holy Word;
may we imitate thee now,
and be pure, as pure art thou;
that we like to thee may be
at thy great Epiphany;
and may praise thee, ever blest,
God in man made manifest.

Yes, I know it's Lent. But I like this hymn!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 12

Next to the Portcullis Gate is a steep flight of 70 steps, aptly named the Lang Stairs. This was the main way up to the summit in medieval times. Rather than struggling up the Lang Stairs, you can take the curved cobbled road ahead, a more leisurely route to the summit. This approach was formed in the 17th century to ease the movement of heavy guns in and out of the castle.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
(Mark 2:23-28)

We now have a hymn sung by Brother Alphonsus Mary.

On this day, the first of days,
God's the Father's Name we praise,
who, creation's Lord and Spring,
did the world from darkness bring.

On this day the eternal Son
over death his triumph won;
on this day the Spirit came
with his gifts of living flame.

O that fervent love today
may in every heart have sway,
teaching us to praise aright
God the Source of life and light.

Father, who didst fashion me
image of thyself to be,
fill me with thy love divine,
let my every thought be thine.

Holy Jesus, may I be
dead and buried here with thee;
and, by love inflamed, arise
unto thee a sacrifice.

Thou who dost all gifts impart,
shine, blest Spirit, in my heart;
best of gifts, thyself bestow;
make me burn thy love to know.

God, the blessèd Three in One,
dwell within my heart alone;
thou dost give thyself to me,
may I give myself to thee.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 11

Here we see the Argyle Tower. This tower is in effect the upper part of the Portcullis Gate, added to that ancient structure in 1887. It was designed by Hippolyte Blanc, an Edinburgh architect, and financed by the Edinburgh publisher, William Nelson, who hoped the tower might become the permanent home of the Honours of Scotland, the crown jewels. He died disappointed.

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
(Mark 2:18-22)

Let's now sing my favourite Lent hymn!

Christian! dost thou see them
On the holy ground,
How the troops of Midian
Prowl and prowl around?
Christian! up and smite them,
Counting gain but loss:
Smite them by the merit
Of the Holy Cross!

Christian! dost thou feel them,
How they work within,
Striving, tempting, luring,
Goading into sin?
Christian! never tremble!
Never be down-cast!
Smite them by the virtue
Of the Lenten Fast!

Christian! dost thou hear them
How they speak thee fair?
“Always fast and vigil?
Always watch and prayer?”
Christian! say but boldly:
“While I breathe, I pray:”
Peace shall follow battle,
Night shall end in day.

“Well I know thy trouble,
O my servant true;
Thou art very weary,—
I was weary too:
But that toil shall make thee,
Some day, all Mine own:
But the end of sorrow
Shall be near My Throne.”

As today is a High Feast Day, I have a treat for you! You are probably wondering what it would be like to have a VIP seat at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo? Well, you are about to find out. Get ready to be amazed!

Happy Feast!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 10

We are now about to pass through the Portcullis Gate. The shield displaying the Lion Rampant, the Scottish Royal Arms, was inserted in 1887, when the decorative upper story, the Argyle Tower, was added.

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(Mark 2:13-17)

Let us sing!

Now is the healing time decreed
for sins of heart, of word or deed,
when we in humble fear record
the wrong that we have done the Lord;

who, alway merciful and good,
has borne so long our wayward mood,
nor cut us off unsparingly
in our so great iniquity.

Therefore with fasting and with prayer,
our secret sorrow we declare;
with all good striving seek his face,
and lowly-hearted plead for grace.

Cleanse us, O Lord, from every stain,
help us the meed of praise to gain,
till with the angels linked in love
joyful we tread thy courts above.

Father and Son and Spirit blest,
to thee be every prayer addressed,
who art in threefold Name adored,
from age to age, the only Lord.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 9

We have now passed through the main entrance and are heading uphill towards Argyle Tower. On our left is the Forewall Battery. This was built in the 1540's, approximately on the line of the medieval defences. It was substantially reconstructed after the Lang Siege of 1571-4. It is now armed with cast-iron guns made during the wars with Napoleonic France.

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
(Mark 2:1-12)

Let us stand up and sing our hymn!

Stand up and bless the Lord
Ye people of His choice;
Stand up and bless the Lord your God
With heart and soul and voice.

Though high above all praise,
Above all blessing high,
Who would not fear His holy Name,
And laud and magnify?

O for the living flame
From His own altar brought,
To touch our lips, our minds inspire,
And wing to heaven our thought!

God is our Strength and Song,
And His salvation ours;
Then be His love in Christ proclaimed
With all our ransomed powers.

Stand up and bless the Lord;
The Lord your God adore;
Stand up and bless His glorious Name;
Henceforth forevermore.

Happy Feast!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 8

Here we see the Gatehouse which was completed in 1888 with the sole intention of making the castle look more imposing! It replaced a much simper 17th-century gate. Outside, set into the facade, are bronze statues of King Robert the Bruce on the left and Sir William Wallace on the right.

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
(Mark 1:40-45)

Let us sing!

Jesu, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 7

Prior to 1753, the Esplanade was a rugged open landscape where the citizens came to watch far more grisly spectacles that the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Castle Hill was a place of execution, where women accused of witchcraft, religious dissenters and others who had fallen foul of the sovereign were hanged or burned at the stake.

Beware, the Ides of March!

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:35-39)

Let us sing!

Lord, teach us how to pray aright,
With reverence and with fear;
Though dust and ashes in Thy sight,
We may, we must draw near.

We perish if we cease from prayer;
O grant us power to pray;
And when to meet Thee we prepare,
Lord, meet us by the way.

God of all grace, we come to Thee
With broken, contrite hearts;
Give what Thine eye delights to see,
Truth in the inward parts.

Faith in the only sacrifice
That can for sin atone;
To cast our hopes, to fix our eyes,
On Christ, on Christ alone.

Patience to watch, and wait, and weep,
Though mercy long delay;
Courage our fainting souls to keep,
And trust Thee though Thou slay.

Give these, and then Thy will be done,
Thus, strengthened with all might,
We, through Thy Spirit and Thy Son,
Shall pray, and pray aright.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 6

Here we see the Esplanade. Thus was formed in 1753 as a parade ground for the castle garrison, and has been used for military spectacles ever since. Each August since 1950 it has hosted performances of the world-famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Please note: Since 2010 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has decreed that this event should be known as the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
(Mark 1:29-33)

It is now time for our hymn.

At even, ere the sun was set,
The sick, O Lord, around Thee lay;
O, with how many pains they met!
O, with what joy they went away!

Once more ’tis eventide, and we,
Oppressed with various ills, draw near;
What if Thyself we cannot see?
We know that Thou art ever near.

O Saviour Christ, our woes dispel;
For some are sick, and some are sad;
And some have never loved Thee well,
And some have lost the love they had.

And some are pressed with worldly care
And some are tried with sinful doubt;
And some such grievous passions tear,
That only Thou canst cast them out.

And some have found the world is vain,
Yet from the world they break not free;
And some have friends who give them pain,
Yet have not sought a friend in Thee.

And none, O Lord, have perfect rest,
For none are wholly free from sin;
And they who fain would serve Thee best
Are conscious most of wrong within.

O Saviour Christ, Thou too art man;
Thou has been troubled, tempted, tried;
Thy kind but searching glance can scan
The very wounds that shame would hide.

Thy touch has still its ancient power.
No word from Thee can fruitless fall;
Hear, in this solemn evening hour,
And in Thy mercy heal us all.

Of your charity, please pray for my stepfather (John) who is bearing his aches and pains with such dignity and lack of complaint. He is now being looked after in a nursing home.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 5

Here we have a fine view of our Lenten home - not much chance of escape! Mighty Edinburgh Castle dominates its city like no other castle in Europe. For 3,000 years, humans have sought safety on the Castle Rock. In ancient times they called it Din Eidyn, 'the stronghold of Eidyn'. Then, around AD 638, the Angles invaded and ever since the rock has been known by its English name - Edinburgh.

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
(Mark 1:21-28)

It's time for our hymn!

Immortal Love for ever full,
for ever flowing free,
for ever shared, for ever whole,
a never-ebbing sea.

Our outward lips confess the name
all other names above;
love only knoweth whence it came
and comprehendeth love.

We may not climb the heavenly steeps
to bring the Lord Christ down;
in vain we search the lowest deeps,
for him no depths can drown:

but warm, sweet, tender, even yet
a present help is he;
and faith has still its Olivet,
and love its Galilee.

The healing of his seamless dress
is by our beds of pain;
we touch him in life's throng and press,
and we are whole again.

Through him the first fond prayers are said
our lips of childhood frame;
the last low whispers of our dead
are burdened with his name.

Alone, O Love ineffable,
thy saving name is given;
to turn aside from thee is hell,
to walk with thee is heaven.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 4

Here we find ourselves gazing from within the walls of our Lenten Prison to the three spires of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral. We are standing close to the National War Museum. In 1748, a gunpowder magazine capable of holding more than a thousand barrels was built on the sloping rock behind the Governor's House. It was soon joined by two ordnance storehouses, two-storey warehouses for cannon, small arms and other equipment. The magazine was demolished in 1897, but the ordnance storehouses were retained and converted for use as a military hospital. A mortuary was also built in Black Well Yard. These buildings remain , and are now occupied by the National War Museum, which opened in 1933 as the Scottish Naval and Military Museum.

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
(Mark 1:16-20)

Let us raise our voices in song.

Jesus calls us over 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 Jesus’ 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 Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 3

Fresh air at last! On the Fridays of Lent we are able to walk within the Castle grounds for Stations of the Cross.

The gate at the right side of the photo is Foog's Gate. This gate was built in the 17th century, during a major refurbishment of the castle commissioned by King Charles II. The origin of the name is unknown. In olden times it was 'Foggy Gate', referring perhaps to the 'haar', or thick sea mist that still shrouds the Castle Rock occasionally. The walls on both sides of the gate have openings for cannons and muskets.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15)

These last few words should be familiar to us, as they are the words with which we received our ashes on Wednesday.

“Take up thy cross,” the Saviour said,
“If thou wouldst My disciple be;
Deny thyself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after Me.”

Take up thy cross, let not its weight
Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
His strength shall bear thy spirit up,
And brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.

Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,
Nor let thy foolish pride rebel;
Thy Lord for thee the cross endured,
And saved thy soul from death and hell.

Take up thy cross then in His strength,
And calmly sin’s wild deluge brave,
’Twill guide thee to a better home,
It points to glory o’er the grave.

Take up thy cross and follow Christ,
Nor think til death to lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.

To Thee, great Lord, the One in Three,
All praise forevermore ascend:
O grant us in our home to see
The heavenly life that knows no end.

This organist was certainly not wearing mittens!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 2

Here we see our Lenten accommodation within the Castle walls.

The Military Prison was built in 1842 for defaulting soldiers from the garrison, for offences such as 'drunk on guard'. In the 1880s it was extended, increasing the number of cells from 12 to 16, providing separate ablution blocks, and rooms for the provost marshal, the officer in charge. The prison was a miniature version of the great civilian prisons of the day, such as Barlinnie in Glasgow. The prisoners were held in solitary confinement, and compelled to do four hours of hard punishment a day - such as working a treadmill, a machine not unlike an exercise bike.

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
(Mark 1:9-13)

Let us now join in singing a traditional Lenten hymn.

Forty days and forty nights
Thou wast fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights
Tempted, and yet undefiled.

Sunbeams scorching all the day;
Chilly dew-drops nightly shed;
Prowling beasts about Thy way;
Stones Thy pillow; earth Thy bed.

Should not we Thy sorrow share
And from worldly joys abstain,
Fasting with unceasing prayer,
Strong with Thee to suffer pain?

Then if Satan on us press,
Jesus, Saviour, hear our call!
Victor in the wilderness,
Grant we may not faint nor fall!

So shall we have peace divine:
Holier gladness ours shall be;
Round us, too, shall angels shine,
Such as ministered to Thee.

Keep, O keep us, Saviour dear,
Ever constant by Thy side;
That with Thee we may appear
At the eternal Eastertide.

Happy Feast!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Edinburgh Castle - 1

The previous two Lents we have been spoilt - we have either been taken on a tour of the Scottish Islands (2009) or of the Scottish Coastline (2010). No such luck this year! No, we are to spend the next 46 days imprisoned inside Edinburgh Castle. Only on Holy Saturday will our release be ensured.

Please click on the map for a clearer view.

Still, it could be worse. We have been left a copy of Mark's Gospel inside our cell and so shall have plenty of time for Bible study. So, let's get stuck in!

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
(Mark 1:1-8)

We read in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 16:25) how Paul and Silas sang hymns whilst they were in prison, so let us follow their example. Fortunately, we have also been supplied with a hymn book in our cell.

Have mercy, Lord, on me,
As Thou wert ever kind;
Let me, oppressed with loads of guilt,
Thy wonted mercy find.

Wash off my foul offense,
And cleanse me from my sin;
For I confess my crimes, and see
How great my guilt has been.

The joy Thy favour gives
Let me again obtain,
And Thy free Spirit’s firm support
My fainting soul sustain.

To God the Father, Son,
And Spirit glory be,
As ’twas, and is, and shall be so
To all eternity.

Yes, our cell is cold. Note, the organist needs to wear gloves! This reminds me of my time at All Saint's, Margaret Street, in the 1970's. One Sunday the heating broke down, and the Organist (Dr Eric Arnold) complained to the Vicar that it was so cold he might have to wear gloves when playing the organ. As quick as a flash the Vicar (Fr David Sparrow) replied, 'well that will make a welcome change from the mittens you usually wear!'

Happy Lent!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Brodie Castle - 10

The wonderful purple and white flowers of the autumn crocus appear soon after the grass is cut. Good autumn colour depends on warm sunny days and frosty nights.

In autumn the apple orchard also produces a rich harvest (most years).

Well, make the most of the following song!

I will sing, I will sing a song unto the Lord
I will sing, I will sing a song unto the Lord
I will sing, I will sing a song unto the Lord
Alleluia, Glory to the Lord.

Alleluia, Alleluia, glory to the Lord,
Alleluia, glory to the Lord.

We will come, we will come as one before the Lord.
Alleluia, Glory to the Lord.

Thy that sow in tears will reap in joy
Alleluia, Glory to the Lord.

In his name in his name we have the victory
Alleluia, Glory to the Lord.

The Director of Music was clearly enjoying himself - though I note one boy seemed not to approve! Perhaps he is a junior member of the Latin Mass Society and stopped singing Alleluia at Septuagesima.

Tomorrow, we are off to Edinburgh Castle.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Brodie Castle - 9

In Spring the shrubbery garden is alive with flowers. From February the ground is carpeted with a colourful succession of bulbs.

Summer is a quiet season after the hurly-burly of Spring.

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. Refrain

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Refrain

Sunday, 6 March 2011

9th Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us about the importance of building our house on rock - not on sand!

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes.

See! the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint, while such a river
ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace which, like the Lord, the Giver,
never fails from age to age.

Saviour, if of Zion's city,
I through grace a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy Name.
Fading is the worldling's pleasure,
all his boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion's children know.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Brodie Castle - 8

One of the delights of Brodie Castle is wandering through the Shrubbery Garden.

Shrubbery gardens were a common feature in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century landscape design and served two basic functions. Firstly, they provided an ornamental area for the family and guests to enjoy and secondly, they screened the working areas – in this case the Walled Garden, from the castle.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Brodie Castle - 7

Here we have an extract from a 1:50 000 OS map which clearly shows the location of the castle. Please click on the map for a larger image.

As you can see, the railway line between Aberdeen and Inverness runs close to the grounds. Here you can see the line on an embankment close to the lake.

It is quite a sight when a train passes by!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Brodie Castle - 6

Here we see some ducks in the pond...

...though some preferred dry ground!

I wish I didn't enjoy duck in orange sauce so much!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Brodie Castle - 5

Here we see the fine lake in the castle grounds...

...and here is one of the residents!

Swans are such graceful birds.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Brodie Castle - 4

In Spring, the grounds are carpeted with a unique collection of daffodils.

You are free to explore sheltered woodland walks, and stroll by the pond where you can observe the estate's varied wildlife from specially constructed hides.

The Lord my pasture shall prepare
And feed me with a shepherd’s care;
His presence shall my wants supply
And guard me with a watchful eye;
My noonday walks He shall attend
And all my midnight hours defend.

When in the sultry glebe I faint
Or on the thirsty mountain pant,
To fertile vales and dewy meads
My weary, wandering steps He leads,
Where peaceful rivers, soft and slow,
Amid the verdant landscape flow.

Though in the paths of death I tread,
With gloomy horrors overspread,
My steadfast heart shall fear no ill,
For Thou, O Lord, art with me still;
Thy friendly crook shall give me aid
And guide me through the dreadful shade.

Though in a bare and rugged way,
Through devious lonely wilds, I stray,
Thy bounty shall my pains beguile;
The barren wilderness shall smile,
With sudden greens and herbage crowned,
And streams shall murmur all around.