Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 17

What a lovely sight on this St Andrew's Day - bottles of Dallas Dhu whisky!

A hundred years of whisky making at Dallas Dhu came to an end in 1983, but that was not the end of Dallas Dhu.

Thanks to the generosity of Scottish Malt Distillers, and its parent company, the Distillers Company Ltd, the pretty distillery complex on the southern fringe of the town of Forres came into Historic Scotland's care - a perfectly preserved time-capsule of the distiller's art.

Over the next three days we shall look at some recipes which make good use of Scotch whisky.

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.

Happy Feast!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 16

The new barrels of whisky were rolled from the filling store along the iron rails at the end of the bonds. When stacking the barrels, the warehouseman took pride in getting each barrel positioned with the lettering the right way up.

The different colours on the ends of the barrels indicated how many times the barrels had been used for whisky. Whisky from a barrel that had only been used for sherry before would be more stongly flavoured than whisky matured in a barrel that was being used for the third time. Knowing the history of each barrel was therefore vitally important when it came to blending the whisky before bottling.

The bonds are built with an earthen floor to keep the space cool. the spacing of the roof slates allows for plenty of ventilation because the barrels gradually sweated out a small amount of whisky, known in the trade as 'the angels' share'. Now you know why the angels sing so well!

Our hymn today is sung for us by Brother Alphonsus Mary.

Ye holy angels bright,
who wait at God's right hand,
or through the realms of light
fly at your Lord's command,
assist our song,
for else the theme
too high doth seem
for mortal tongue.

Ye blessed souls at rest,
who ran this earthly race
and now, from sin released,
behold your Saviour's face,
his praises sound,
as in his sight
with sweet delight
ye do abound.

Ye saints, who toil below,
adore your heavenly King,
and onward as ye go
some joyful anthem sing;
take what he gives
and praise him still,
through good or ill,
who ever lives!

My soul, bear thou thy part,
triumph in God above:
and with a well-tuned heart
sing thou the songs of love!
Let all thy days
till life shall end,
whate'er he send,
be filled with praise!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 15

In the filling store the barrels were filled from the main store, the entire operation overseen by the exciseman.

Each barrel was weighed empty and full and a sample of the whisky measured to check it alcohol content (normally about 60 per cent by volume). These measurements allowed the exciseman, working from his little booth in the corner, to calculate how much alcohol had been produced by the distillery.

The warehouses, or bonds, were strictly controlled by the exiseman. Until the tax was paid on a barrel of whisky (normally when it was bottled), it was the exciseman's job to ensure that none of it left his control; if it wasn't under lock and key in the bond, then he had to accompany it at all times.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

1st Sunday of Advent

We get a real wake up call at the Eucharist this morning - no fewer than three times does the Gospel tell us to 'stay awake'!

Nevertheless, for our hymn today we shall sing a lovely evening hymn!

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.

It is interesting to note that Queen Victoria chose this hymn to be sung at the 60th anniversary of her reign in 1897. I wonder whether Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will do likewise in 2012?

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 14

We now move to the fourth and last stage in the whisky-making process.

The spirit is matured in oak barrels to creature the flavours of the whisky.

The spirit is put into oak barrels to age for at least three years, maybe far more. The barrels give the whisky its colour and much of its flavour.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 13


We are now gazing at the spirit safe.

The spirit safe was invented in 1825 to make sure that the distillery workers never got their hands on the spirit! They were prevented from tampering with the spirit by the two locks, the keys for which were held by the exciseman.

The products of each still poured through the spirit safe, enabling the still man to test the spirit as it came out to see if he wanted to keep it or not. At the left-hand end, the still man checked to see when the low wines were complete and the wash still was just producing water so that he could end the distillation.

On the right-hand side, he watched the output from the spirit still. The first liquid out of the spirit still was called the 'fore shots'; considered too volatile for whisky - it was run back in with the low wines for redistillation.

When the still man judged that the still was producing the right quality of alcohol, the 'middle cut', he turned the handle on the top of the spirit safe to run it into the oak vat called the spirit receiver.

Towards the end of the distillation he watched again to divert the 'feints', the spirit too heavy for whisky, back in with the low wines.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 12


Here we see one of the two great stills - each with a capacity of 2,295 gallons.

Dallas Dhu has two stills - the wash still and the spirit still.

The stillman's job was carefully to control the heat of the stills. He also had to make sure that the wash still, containing the yeasty brew, did not overflow. The neck of the wash still contains two glass windows so that the height of the froth in the still could be monitored; if the still man saw froth in the top windows, the heat was too high.

The shape of thee still is is very important, because it is the shape that affects the character of the spirit produced; any change in shape would change the final flavour of the whisky.

The still man opened a valve to fill the wash still with wash. He gradually raised the temperature of the still while the vapour rose up the neck and out of the worm outside. The still relied on the different ingredients of the wash evaporating at different rates, allowing the alcohol and other chemicals in the wash to be separated from the water. The product from the wash still, was called 'low wines'. What remained in the still (mainly water and yeast) was called 'pot ale' and was run into the sewers!

The low wines were then distilled again in the spirit still. This produced a cleaner spirit which the brewer drew off into the spirit safe.

Just a word about the worm tubs. There were two worms - the low wine worm and there spirit worm. Two tubs held the worms, long spirals of copper pipe attached to the stills. When the stills were working, cool water was kept flowing into the tubs. As the hot vapours coming from the stills entered the worm, the cooling water condensed them so that they could flow back to the still house.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 11

The third stage of the whisky making process is that of distillation. The brew is distilled to extract the alcoholic spirit.

The wash is distilled first in the wash still, and then again, for the sake of purity, in the spirit still, to extract just the right strength of spirit for the whisky - nothing too light, nothing too heavy.

The still house is very much the spiritual heart of the distillery, for it is here that the weak brew from the wash backs was transformed into fiery spirit!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 10

The tun room houses the six great wash backs, or brewing vats.

The wort and yeast were piped into the vats where the yeast fermented the sugars into alcohol, called wash. This produced a fair amount of heat and a high froth on the top of the vats. When Dallas Dhu first opened, the mash men would keep the froth down with heather brooms.

The froth was made up of carbon dioxide produced by the yeast. Being heavier than air, this used to fill the ground floor of the tun room, making it impossible to breathe down there. For this reason a lifeline and breathing equipment were kept in a locker nearby in case of emergencies.

After a couple of days, when the wash had reached a level of between 5 and 10 per cent alcohol by volume, it was passed through to the still house.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 9

Here we see the inside of the mash tun in the mash house.

The mash tun has a perforated base, allowing the sugary liquid, or wort, to be drained off for brewing. One load of grist was drained several times to get all the sugars out. the remaining mushy husks, or draft, were removed on the draft conveyor and sold as cattle feed.

When the wort came from the mash tun, it was too hot for brewing; the heat would kill the yeast. so the wort went into a cooler room before moving to the tun room.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Feast of Christ the King (34th Week of Ordinary Time)

Today we hear the familiar parable of the sheep and the goats. Well, which are you? I rather like the goat - only kidding!

Christ is the King! O friends rejoice;
brothers and sisters with one voice
tell the whole world he is your choice.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O magnify the Lord, and raise
anthems of joy and holy praise
for Christ’s brave saints of ancient days.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O Christian women, Christian men,
all the world over, seek again
the Way disciples followed then.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Christ through all ages is the same:
place the same hope in his great name,
with the same faith his word proclaim.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

So shall God’s will on earth be done,
new lamps be lit, new tasks begun,
and the whole church at last be one.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

I love hymns with lots of alleluias!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

St Delia's Day

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Delia!

She has been credited with changing the cooking - and shopping - habits of a nation, and the Delia effect has become accepted as common parlance.

And now, Delia Smith's efforts to culinary greatness are to be recognised with a day specially dedicated to her this weekend.

Following a huge surge in sales of a packaged Christmas cake ingredients box devised by Delia, Waitrose is declaring this Sunday to be Delia Day.

Sales of the cake are up almost 97 per cent on this time last year, with customers coming into the store to buy the product, which includes fruit soaked in brandy, buying the equivalent of 56 tonnes of fruit.

Delia Day is timed to tie in with Stir Up Sunday, traditionally the last Sunday before Advent when Britons prepare Christmas cakes and puddings.

Delia's much-loved Christmas cake recipe has been used by British cooks for over 40 years - but until now, they had to pound the aisles of the supermarkets to collect up the ingredients themselves.

The £10 prepared box contains all the dry ingredients needed to make Delia's Classic Christmas cake - and all have been prepared and weighed out in advance.

Waitrose launched the Delia prepared cake boxes into branches earlier than last year, and due to increased demand has ordered almost three times as many.

The box contains dried fruit mix pre-soaked in brandy, soft dark brown sugar, flour, chopped almonds, black treacle and mixed spice with nutmeg plus instructions penned by Delia. Home cooks simply add their own eggs, butter, orange and lemon zests to the dry ingredients then mix everything together and bake.

Not only is it simpler, but on average the box ensures a saving of around £10 on buying the individual ingredients as full packs.

Waitrose home baking buyer Jo Maclaine said: 'The Delia Christmas cake boxes have proved to be incredibly successful, with a huge rise in sales this week.

Delia says: 'This, my original classic Christmas cake, is possibly the most popular recipe I've ever done.

Let us pray:

Stir up, O Lord,
the wills of your faithful people:
that, richly bearing the fruit of good works,
they may by you be richly rewarded;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

On second thoughts, if the Vatican sees the following video, Delia may have to wait a very long time after her death before she is canonised.

It looks to me as if most of the brandy has gone into her glass - not into soaking the fruit for the Christmas cake!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 8

The mash house is dominated by the mash tun, a great cooking vat.

The mash man mixed the grist with hot water to form a mash which was stirred slowly in the mash tun to release the sugars and starch from the first. This was hot and potentially dangerous work with the mash heated to around 65 degrees centigrade.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 7

The second stage of whisky-making is basically a brewing process. In brief, the malt is brewed to turn the sugar into alcohol.

The grist is mixed with hot water in the mash tun to dissolve the sugar. This sugary liquid (wort) is the piped into wooden vats called wash backs. The wort in the wash backs is mixed with yeast to turn the sugar into alcohol. This produces a weak beer (wash) which is then taken to the stills.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 6

Here we see the malt kiln with its pagoda-shaped roof.

The malt kiln worked by drawing the heat from the fire in the base up through the perforated floor on which the damp malt was spread and out through the vent in the roof. One malt man stoked the fire with coal or coke and a little peat - to give that slightly smoky flavour to the malt. To avoid scorching the malt, he regulated the heat and air flow with the iron shutters around the hearth.

Other malt men worked up above on the perforated steel floor in the heat of the kiln, turning the malt to ensure that it dried evenly. When the malt was completely dry, the malt men shovelled it into wooden bins, called the malt deposit.

Once the dried malt had rested in the malt deposit for a few weeks, the brewer's team took over. The mash-man let the malt fall into the mill where it was cracked between steel rollers. He had to adjust the rollers precisely to ensure that the crushed malt, or grist, was neither too fine more too coarse.

This concludes the first stage of whisky-making - there are three more stages to come!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 5

The barley is soaked in water and allowed to start sprouting (malting).

When the malt-man judges that the sprouting has produced enough sugar in the grain, he transfers the malted barley (or malt) to the kiln. The heat in the kiln dries the malt and stops is sprouting further. The malt is then passed through a mill to break it up into grist, a very course flour.

The proverb "all is grist for the mill" means "everything can be made useful, or be a source of profit." This is very much in keeping with the parable of the talents which we heard on Sunday.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 4

Barley is a grass with a swollen grain that is similar to wheat that can be ground to produce a flour suitable for the production of bread. However unlike wheat, barley has always been particularly important in the production of beers and ales. Barley is the second most widely grown arable crop in the UK with around 1.1 million hectares under cultivation and today's varieties trace their origins back over 10,000 years to the first farmers.

Barley has remained a successful cereal crop because of its short growing time and ability to survive in poor conditions. Although it is grown throughout most of the UK it is often the dominant arable crop in the north and west of Britain where growing conditions are most difficult and less favourable for wheat.

Each year the UK produces around 6.5 million tonnes of barley. Roughly 1.5 million tonnes are exported, 2 million tonnes are used in the brewing and distilling trades with 3 million tonnes being used for animal feed.

Barley is striking because of the long spikes that emerge from the end of each grain. These are known as awns. Barley is also easily identifiable on breezy days in the early summer when "waves" blow through the crop.

Although barley is versatile and tolerant it is not as productive as wheat. As a result it is often grown as the second cereal in a rotation where potential yields are lower; for example a field might first grow wheat, then barley, then a break crop like sugar beet or peas before returning to wheat. Barley can also be grown continually in the same field, a process known as continuous cropping. This was relatively common in the 1970s and 1980s but is rarely if ever practiced now.

Barley can be sown in either the autumn (this is known as winter barley) or in the spring. The proportion of each varies from year to year but is generally around 50:50. Winter barleys are higher yielding but of poorer quality and are mostly used in animal feeds whereas the spring varieties are often used for malting. The winter crop is normally harvested in July with those spring sown following about a month later.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today we year the familiar parable of the talents.

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

By influence of the Light divine
Let thy own light to others shine.
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
In ardent love, and cheerful praise.

In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 3

There are four main stages involved in whisky making. Stage 1 - the barley is malted to release its sugar.

I believe that Simpson's Barley makes the finest whisky!

Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods. It is used in soups and stews, and in barley bread of various cultures.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Armistice Day - 2011

Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day) is on 11 November and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compi├Ęgne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. This year is rather special - as it is of course the eleventh year of the century.

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!

Almighty God,
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
Kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all men
the true love of peace;
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth;
that in tranquility your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Princess Royal

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal (Princess Ann) has graciously consented to become the first Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The Chancellor is the titular head of the University and The Princess Royal’s role will be both ceremonial and ambassadorial, participating in conferring degrees at graduations as well representing the University in the UK and overseas.

“We are delighted The Princess Royal has accepted our invitation to be our first ever Chancellor,” said James Fraser, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands. “We welcome her to the university. The Princess Royal has been a longtime supporter and has already visited many of our campuses. She joins us as we seek to develop a university which will have a transformational effect on the Highlands and Islands and attract national and international interest.” (James Fraser can be seen in the photo wearing a white shirt and blue tie.)

Professor Matthew MacIver, Chair of the University court added: “This is a great honour for the Highlands and Islands and I’m certain that the patronage of The Princess Royal will be a tremendous boon to all involved in the creation of our new University.”

A date for the formal installation of the new Chancellor is expected to be set for 2012. I hope to be there myself!

The Princess Royal is the only daughter of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Christmas Stamps 2011

On Tuesday 8 November the Royal Mail issued their Christmas Stamps for 2011 - and what a surprise - they are really beautiful!

No Santa Claus or robins, but scenes from the gospels - Joseph's dream; the Virgin Mary bears a Son; Baby Jesus is laid in a manger; an angel appears to the shepherds; the wise men rejoice at the sight of the star. We are even given Scripture references on the stamps.

Well done Royal Mail - you will be helping to spread the true meaning of Christmas. Will all UK readers of this blog please make sure that they use these stamps - I have just purchased £48 worth! I suggest using them on your Christmas Cards, and then for all your mail between Christmas Day and Candlemas.

1st Class books of stamps cost £5.52 each, and 2nd Class books of stamps cost £4.32 each. Each book of stamps contains 12 stamps.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 2

Sadly, the distillery no longer produces whisky, but it is still open to the public thanks to the heroic efforts of Historic Scotland.

The distillery rarely had an easy time, but it was Dallas Dhu's unreliable water supply that finally saw its demise; the supply even dried up entirely for a while during the drought of 1976. The works limped on, thanks to its use as a testing station for new variations in the production process, but the end finally came in 1983. The last barrel was filled on 16 March 1983, an event recorded on the filling store wall.

The whisky that you taste at the end of the tour is around 30 years old - but the supply will not last for ever. It is becoming a very rare whisky!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Dallas Dhu Distillery - 1

I recently visited the Dallas Dhu Distillery near Forres. The purpose of my visit was simply to get photos for the blog - it was nothing to do with the free tasting!

Work on building the distillery started in 1898, and production began on 29 May 1899. The first barrel was filled with whisky on 3 June.

Forres is a town and former royal burgh situated in the north of Scotland on the Moray coast, approximately 30 miles east of Inverness. Forres has been a winner of the Scotland in Bloom award on several occasions. There are many geographical and historical attractions nearby such as the River Findhorn, and there are many historical artifacts and monuments within the town itself.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the gospel today we hear the familiar parable about the wise and foolish virgins.

Wake, o wake! with tidings thrilling
the watchmen all the air are filling,
arise, Jerusalem, arise!
Midnight strikes! no more delaying,
"The hour has come!" we hear them saying.
Where are ye all, ye virgins wise?
The Bridegroom comes in sight,
raise high your torches bright!
Alleluia! The wedding song
swells long and strong:
go forth and join the festal throng.

Zion hears the watchmen shouting,
her heart leaps with joy undoubting,
she stands and waits with eager eyes;
adorned with truth and grace unending!
Her light burns clear, her star doth rise.
Now come, thou precious Crown,
Lord Jesus, God's own Son!
Hosanna! Let us prepare
to follow there,
where in thy supper we may share.

Every soul in thee rejoices;
from men and angelic voices
be glory given to thee alone!
Thy presence never more shall leave us,
we stand with angels round thy throne.
Earth cannot give below
the bliss thou dost bestow.
Alleluia! Grant us to raise
to length of days,
the triumph-chorus of thy praise.

Advent must be getting close - yet it feels more like midsummer here in the Highlands!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 5 November 2011


November is sometimes regarded as rather a solemn month - so let's brighten things up with a firework display.

Let's have some organ fireworks - enjoy the Radeztky March!

Happy Guy Fawkes Night!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Te Deum laudamus

One canticle I love to hear at All Saints-tide is the Te Deum.

We praise thee, O God: we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee: the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubin and Seraphin: continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty: of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles: praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets: praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs: praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world: doth acknowledge thee;
The Father: of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true: and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.

Thou art the King of Glory: O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son: of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man: thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death: thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God: in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come: to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants: whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints: in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save thy people: and bless thine heritage.
Govern them: and lift them up for ever.
Day by day: we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name: ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord: to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us: have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us: as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted: let me never be confounded.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

For the beauty of the earth

My Mother was very pleased that I visited John's grave on All Souls' Day, and she asked me to take a photo of the flowers that I placed in 'her vase'. Well here they are!

However, let me also post a photo that I took last month of my Mother on her 91st birthday. I note she is proudly displaying a photo of Ludo - my Sister's dog, not a photo of me - on her sideboard. I wonder why?!

One hymn comes to mind. Let us listen as the words are sung in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen as she attends worship in St Paul's Cathedral, London. Let us pray for all those involved in the protest there at this present time.

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.


Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.


For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.


For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.


For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.


For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven.


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

All Souls' Day

We do not know how long it is before a soul expectant becomes a saint triumphant - my reading of the gospels leads me to suspect rather less time than we think!

I remember being deacon at Westminster Cathedral in June 2003 at a Requiem Mass for Cardinal Vaughan - who had died in June 1903. I found the whole service in purple vestments rather depressing. If Cardinal Vaughan (who had been responsible for the building of the Cathedral) had not already got into heaven, I dreaded to think how long I will have to wait when I die!

On this All Soul's Day I will be praying especially for the repose of the soul of John Holdsworth, my dear late step-father, who died on 20 March 2011. I conducted his funeral at Harrogate Crematorium on 31 March, and presided at the burial of his ashes at Kilvean Cemetery (just outside Inverness) on 20 September. I shall visit his grave later today and put some flowers there. One day this grave will no doubt be the resting place for my earthly remains.

Jesus lives! thy terrors now
can no longer, death, appall us;
Jesus lives! by this we know
thou, O grave, canst not enthrall us.

Jesus lives! henceforth is death
but the gate of life immortal;
this shall calm our trembling breath
when we pass its gloomy portal.

Jesus lives! for us he died;
then, alone to Jesus living,
pure in heart may we abide,
glory to our Saviour giving.

Jesus lives! our hearts know well
nought from us his love shall sever;
life, nor death, nor powers of hell
tear us from his keeping ever.

Jesus lives! to him the throne
over all the world is given:
may we go where he has gone,
rest and reign with him in heaven.

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

May he rest in peace,
And rise in glory. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

All Saints' Day

There are some nice things about growing older. I now find myself rejoicing on All Saints' Day with people I used to pray for on All Souls' Day! I have plenty of good friends in heaven and I ask them to join their praises with mine on this day of jubilation. I look forward to joining their number.

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 blest.
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 Festival!