Thursday, 28 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 14

Today we are visiting Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Place, Elgin.

The congregation of Holy Trinity can trace its continuous history from the time of the Revolution.

In 1621 history records that the Reverend John Gordon was deposed from his living for refusing to sign the Covenant. Later, the Reverend Alexander Todd, though legally deprived, continued to officiate. The Episcopalian congregation worshipped in the walled off chancel of the Church of St Giles until after “the 15”, when it gathered in the ancient Greyfriars Church.

It is on record that in 1721 the congregation numbered 800. After ‘‘the 45” Rebellion it shared a priest with the Episcopalian remnant at nearby Duffus. The church still treasures a chalice which dates from this period.

In 1760 a ‘Qualified Chapel’ was opened in Elgin - “Qualified” being the term given to those churches which were exempt from the rigours of the Penal Laws by its recognition of the Royal House of Hanover which all true Episcopalians could never in conscience do.

In 1800 the two congregations were joined together by the Reverend Hugh Buchan, the “unqualified” priest, in whose time the present Church was built.

The new church as completed in 1826. It was subsequently enlarged in 1852 and again in 1875. The main feature of the church is its Gothic entrance gable. Holy Trinity is the oldest church still in regular use in Elgin.

Father of heaven, whose love profound
a ransom for our souls hath found,
before thy throne we sinners bend;
to us thy pardoning love extend.

Almighty Son, Incarnate Word,
our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, Lord,
before thy throne we sinners bend;
to us thy saving grace extend.

Eternal Spirit, by whose breath
the soul is raised from sin and death,
Before thy throne we sinners bend;
to us thy quickening power extend.

Thrice Holy! Father, Spirit, Son -
mysterious Godhead, Three in One,
before thy throne we sinners bend;
grace, pardon, life to us extend.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 13

Today we are visiting St Michael's Church in Conval Street, Dufftown

Dufftown was originally named Mortlach in the Middle Ages, until the 19th century when the Earl of Fife built the town as a housing for soldiers returning home from war. He named the town Dufftown.

Dufftown also hosts a highland games event every July which attracts many tourists.

Dufftown's notable buildings include Balvenie Castle, which was partly built with stones from the ruins of nearby Auchindoun Castle. The street plan of Dufftown is mainly four main roads meeting at the clock tower; previously a prison but now a tourist information centre.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for my fight,
Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight.
Thou my soul's shelter, Thou my high tower.
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heav'ns Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 12

Today we are in Dornoch, visiting St Finbarr's Church, which is located on School Brae.

Gilbert de Moravia, Bishop of Caithness, built a cathedral in Dornoch between 1224 and 1245.

Before then, very few people lived in the area. There were probably a few small farms nearby with families living in small, turf-built cottages thatched with heather. Perhaps there was also a small stone-built church dedicated to Saint Finbarr standing to the east of the present Cathedral graveyard, and there may even have been a small community of monks living in beehive cells on the hill that rises to the north of the town centre.

Some sources suggest that Saint Finbarr brought Christianity to this area in 540 AD and established a monastic community here in Dornoch, but there is no real historical or archaeological evidence to support this view.

Forth in Thy Name, O Lord, I go,
My daily labour to pursue;
Thee, only Thee, resolved to know
In all I think or speak or do.

The task Thy wisdom hath assigned,
O let me cheerfully fulfill;
In all my works Thy presence find,
And prove Thy good and perfect will.

Preserve me from my calling’s snare,
And hide my simple heart above,
Above the thorns of choking care,
The gilded baits of worldly love.

Thee may I set at my right hand,
Whose eyes mine inmost substance see,
And labour on at Thy command,
And offer all my works to Thee.

Give me to bear Thy easy yoke,
And every moment watch and pray,
And still to things eternal look,
And hasten to Thy glorious day.

For Thee delightfully employ
Whate’er Thy bounteous grace hath giv’n;
And run my course with even joy,
And closely walk with Thee to Heav’n.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 11

Today we are in Dingwall. This town is of course famous for HTC - The Highland Theological College.

The Episcopal church is dedicated to St James the Great, and is located in Castle Street, very close to the Theological College (which is the building just beneath the letter H in the word 'Hotel'). Bishop Mark informs me that he has never been invited to HTC - by way of contrast, I am quite a regular visitor!

We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves!
Bear the news to every land, climb the mountains, cross the waves;
Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves!

Waft it on the rolling tide: Jesus saves!
Tell to sinners far and wide: Jesus saves!
Sing, you islands of the sea; echo back, you ocean caves;
Earth shall keep her jubilee: Jesus saves!

Sing above the battle strife: Jesus saves!
By His death and endless life: Jesus saves!
Shout it brightly through the gloom, when the heart for mercy craves;
Sing in triumph o’er the tomb: Jesus saves!

Give the winds a mighty voice: Jesus saves!
Let the nations now rejoice: Jesus saves!
Shout salvation full and free; highest hills and deepest caves;
This our song of victory: Jesus saves!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

2nd Sunday of Lent

Today we hear about the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Triumph o’er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Day-star, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
Unaccompanied by Thee;
Joyless is the day’s return
Till Thy mercy’s beams I see;
Till they inward light impart,
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine,
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, Radiancy divine,
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more Thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 10

Today we are visiting St Mary in the Fields, Culloden. You may remember that we visited this church during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Bishop Mark visited this church during January and reported as follows: 'On Sunday I led worship at St Mary in the Field’s, Culloden. I was allowed to do my own thing as I was covering for the clergy who were away on holiday; it is amazing how quickly you forget just what needs to be prepared, I got away with it all though, I think!'

I have to confess that I have never been inside the church (although it is only 1 mile from my house), but have sometimes studied it from the outside when I have been seen by my GP. The consulting rooms at Culloden Surgery look out over the church building.

Father, hear the prayer we offer:
not for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength, that we may ever
live our lives courageously.

Not for ever in green pastures
do we ask our way to be ;
but the steep and rugged pathway
may we tread rejoicingly.

Not forever by still waters
would we idly rest and stay;
but would smite the living fountains
from the rocks along our way.

Be our strength in hours of weakness,
in our wanderings be our Guide;
through endeavor, failure, danger,
Father, be thou at our side.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 9

Today we are visiting Cromarty, which is located at the tip of the Black Isle. The Episcopal Church is dedicated to St Regulus, and is to be found in Church Street.

Cromarty is a seaport on the southern shore of the mouth of Cromarty Firth, 5 miles seaward from Invergordon on the opposite coast. It was previously the county town of the former county of Cromartyshire.

The name Cromarty variously derives from the Gaelic crom (crooked), and from bati (bay), or from àrd (height), meaning either the "crooked bay", or the "bend between the heights" (referring to the high rocks, or Sutors, which guard the entrance to the Firth), and gave the title to the earldom of Cromarty.

The town grew around its port, formerly used by ferries, to export locally-grown hemp fibre, and by trawlers trawling for herrings. The port was a British naval base during the First World War and HMS Natal blew up close by on 30 December 1915 with heavy loss of life. Cromarty is familiar to anyone who listens to the Shipping Forecast on Radio 4.

Sweet Sacrament divine,
hid in thine earthly home;
lo! round thy lowly shrine,
with suppliant hearts we come;
Jesus, to thee our voice we raise
In songs of love and heartfelt praise
sweet Sacrament divine.

Sweet Sacrament of peace,
dear home of every heart,
where restless yearnings cease,
and sorrows all depart.
there in thine ear, all trustfully,
we tell our tale of misery,
sweet Sacrament of peace.

Sweet Sacrament of rest,
ark from the ocean's roar,
within thy shelter blest
soon may we reach the shore;
save us, for still the tempest raves,
save, lest we sink beneath the waves:
sweet Sacrament of rest.

Sweet Sacrament divine,
earth's light and jubilee,
in thy far depths doth shine
the Godhead's majesty;
sweet light, so shine on us, we pray
that earthly joys may fade away:
sweet Sacrament divine.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 8

Today we are in Burghead. The Burghead Mission meets in the Church of Scotland Hall in Grant Street.

Burghead is a small town in Moray, Scotland, about 8 miles (13 km) north-west of Elgin. The town is mainly built on a peninsula that projects north-westward into the Moray Firth, meaning that most of the town has sea on 3 sides. The present town was built between 1805 and 1809, destroying in the process more than half of the site of an important Pictish hill fort. General Roy’s map shows the defences as they existed in the 18th century but he wrongly attributed them to the Romans. The fort was probably a major Pictish centre and was where carved slabs depicting bulls were found; they are known as the "Burghead Bulls". A chambered well of some considerable antiquity was discovered in 1809 and walls and a roof were later added to help preserve it.

Each year on 11 January a fire festival known as the Burning of the Clavie takes place; it is thought that the festival dates back to the 17th century, although it could easily predate this by several centuries.

Burghead is often known as The Broch by locals; confusingly, Fraserburgh is also known by this name. A recent dig just beyond the boundary of Burghead at Clarckly Hill has uncovered Iron Age circular stone houses, Pictish building foundations as well as silver and bronze roman coins. A gold finger ring possibly from the Baltic region was also found. Significant evidence of large scale Iron smelting has also been found, providing evidence that iron was probably being traded from this site.The National Museum of Scotland have carried out significant exploration which leads them to believe this is a significant site of interest.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st 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.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 7

Today we are in Brora. The Episcopal Church is dedicated to St Columba and is located on Victoria Road. The building is not particularly remarkable, so our photo today shows The Royal Marine Hotel, which is not far from the church.

Brora is a village in the east of Craig Duncan Sutherland, in the Highland area of Scotland. The village is situated where the A9 road and the Far North Line bridge the River Brora. The village is served by a railway station. It is home to the biggest founding association of welts.

A small industrial village having at one time a coal pit, boat building, salt pans, fish curing, lemonade factory, Clynelish Distillery (at one time called the Brora distillery, wool mill, bricks and a stone quarry. Stone from the quarry was used in the construction of London Bridge, Liverpool Cathedral and Dunrobin Castle. When in operation, the coalmine was the most northerly coalmine in the UK.

Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.

A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy.

All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, "for thy sake,"
will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 6

Today we are visiting Arpafeelie - where Bishop Mark lives. Here we see the Bishop blessing the entrance to his house on the Feast of the Epiphany last year. Note the purple paint!

The parish church of St John the Evangelist, Arpafeelie, is literally at the end of the bishop's back garden.

Happy are they, they that love God,
whose hearts have Christ confessed,
who by his cross have found their life,
and 'neath his yoke their rest.

Glad is the praise, sweet are the songs,
when they together sing;
and strong the prayers that bow the ear
of heaven's eternal King.

Christ to their homes giveth his peace,
and makes their loves his own:
but ah, what tares the evil one
hath in his garden sown.

Sad were our lot, evil this earth,
did not its sorrows prove
the path whereby the sheep may find
the fold of Jesus' love.

Then shall they know, they that love him,
how all their pain is good;
and death itself cannot unbind
their happy brotherhood.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 5

Today we are in Achiltibuie. The parish of St Boniface of Ross meet in Coigach Community Centre.

Achiltibuie is a long linear village in Ross and Cromarty, Highland, on the Coigach coast of northwestern Scotland, overlooking Badentarbet Bay to the west. Loch Broom and the Summer Isles lie to the south. Located 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Ullapool, Achiltibuie is home to the Hydroponicum, a garden where plants are grown using a hydroponic system, in water and without soil.

O God beyond all praising,
we worship you today
and sing the love amazing
that songs cannot repay;
for we can only wonder
at every gift you send,
at blessings without number
and mercies without end:
we lift our hearts before you
and wait upon your word,
we honour and adore you,
our great and mighty Lord.

Then hear, O gracious Saviour,
accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favour
may serve you as our king;
and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
we'll triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty
and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty
our sacrifice of praise.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

1st Sunday of Lent

On this First Sunday of Lent we think about the temptations of Jesus after his Baptism and before he started his public ministry.

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 Sunday!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 4

Today we are visiting the church of St Margaret of Scotland in Aberlour.

St Margaret's Church, Aberlour, was designed and built in 1875 by the Scots architect Alexander Ross as part of the Scottish Episcopal Church. It became the chapel for the children and staff of the Aberlour Orphanage.

The Orphanage was closed in 1967 and its buildings demolished. Only the clock tower and the church are left to remind thousands of 'mitherless bairns' of their childhood on Speyside.

The church is now in the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and its congregation belongs to the Episcopal Church of Scotland.

Time and hard winters have taken their toll on the fabric of the building, and repairs, estimated to cost around £200,000, are urgently needed. Water is seeping through the granite causing damage to the stone and lime mortar. High level work is required on the roof and guttering. The heating system is archaic and the electricity supply inadequate to meet modern demands.

Well-worn encaustic tiles on the floor and initials carved in the original red-pine pews still bear witness to the children who came for daily services in the chapel. Reunions of the Old Boys and Old Girls of the Orphanage are held in the church, and we as a congregation feel a great obligation to maintain the church, authoritatively described as 'probably Alexander Ross's finest building', in the best possible condition.

Jesus, good above all other,
gentle Child of gentle Mother,
in a stable born our Redeemer,
give us grace to persevere.

Jesus, cradled in a manger,
for us facing every danger,
living as a homeless stranger,
make we thee our King most dear.

Jesus, for thy people dying,
risen Master, death defying,
Lord in heaven, thy grace supplying,
keep us to thy presence near.

Jesus, who our sorrows bearest,
all our thoughts and hopes thou sharest,
thou to man the truth declarest;
help us all thy truth to hear.

Lord, in all our doings guide us;
pride and hate shall never divide us;
we'll go on with thee beside us,
and with joy we'll persevere!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 3

Today we find ourselves in Aberchirder.

Aberchirder was originally a small Royal Burgh but the main town was founded in 1764 by Alexander Gordon, the 5th laird of Auchintoul. Until 1823 its official name was, in fact, Foggieloan after a small farm community on the nearby peat moss moorland. There is some uncertainty as to how the name originated. There are various theories; the most likely is that there is a stretch of moorland north of where the farm town existed (and, now, north of the village) which was named Foggieloan Moss from two Gaelic words foidh (peat moss) and lòn (meadow), so Foggieloan means peaty or boggy meadow.Kinnairdy Castle, belonging to the Crichton family is 2 miles to the south west, where the River Deveron joins the Auchintoul Burn. In 1823 the village was renamed Aberchirder after the 13th century Thanes of Aberkerdour of Kinnairdy Castle.

As a planned community, the village was built on a grid pattern around a central square and had a mix of single storey thatched, stone-built houses fronting onto the streets (to prevent people having their middens on show) with long gardens intended to provide the inhabitants with a seasonal supply of food. Alexander Gordon envisaged a thriving industrial village and built a small linen factory in Back Street (now North Street) which produced fine linen table clothes and wincey using flax from from Auchintoul Moss. By the late 19th century, wealthier inhabitants had built some grander houses and there was a selection of religious establishments throughout the town catering to various denominations in addition to the Church of Scotland and Free Church buildings. The Scottish Episcopal Church which is located in Main Street is dedicated to St Marman.

It is interesting to note that the present Provost of St Andrew's Cathedral, Inverness is also called Alexander Gordon (Very Rev Canon)!

City of God, how broad and far
Outspread thy walls sublime!
The true thy chartered freemen are
Of every age and clime.

One holy Church, one army strong;
One steadfast, high intent;
One working band, one harvest song,
One King omnipotent.

How purely hath thy speech come down
From man’s primeval youth!
How grandly hath thine empire grown
Of freedom, love and truth!

How gleam thy watch fires through the night
With never fainting ray!
How rise thy towers, serene and bright,
To meet the dawning day!

In vain the surge’s angry shock,
In vain the drifting sands;
Unharmed upon the eternal Rock
The eternal City stands.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 2

We start our tour at the Mother Church of the Diocese - St Andrew's Cathedral, Inverness. The Cathedral is located on the west bank of the River Ness.

The architect was Alexander Ross, who was based in the city. Construction began in 1866 and was complete by 1869, although a lack of funds precluded the building of the two giant spires of the original design. The building was dedicated in 1874. It is in this building that Bishop Mark has his official seat.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Lenten Pilgrimage - 1

During the 40 weekdays of Lent we are going to let Bishop Mark Strange take us on a tour of the 39 parishes within the United Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. As the photo shows, this large Diocese does contain some remote areas!

Soldiers of Christ, arise,
and put your armour on,
strong in the strength which God supplies
through his eternal Son;

Strong in the Lord of hosts,
and in his mighty power:
who in the strength of Jesus trusts
is more than conqueror.

Stand then in his great might,
with all his strength endured,
and take, to arm you for the fight,
the panoply of God.

From strength to strength go on,
wrestle and fight and pray:
tread all the powers of darkness down,
and win the well-fought day.

That, having all things done,
and all your conflicts past,
ye may o'ercome through Christ alone,
and stand entire at last.

Happy Lent!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Shrove Tuesday

Well, it's farewell to Alleluia for the next 46 days.

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.

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

If the Son if the Son shall make you free
You shall be free indeed.

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

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

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

Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess,
That Jesus Christ is Lord.

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

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

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

Don't worry - we'll have an avalanche of Alleluias during the Easter Octave!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Today we rejoice that on 11 February 1858 Saint Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl admitted to her mother that a "lady" spoke to her in the cave of Massabielle, (a mile from the town) while gathering firewood with her sister and a friend. Similar appearances of the "lady" were reported on seventeen further occasions that year.

Bernadette Soubirous was later canonized as a Saint, and Roman Catholics and some Protestants believe her apparitions have been validated by the overwhelming popularity and testament of healings claimed to have taken place at the Lourdes water spring.

The beautiful stained glass image is courtesy of www.StainedGlassInc.com

Immaculate Mary!
Our hearts are on fire,
that title so wondrous
fills all our desire.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

We pray for God’s glory,
the Lord’s kingdom come!
We pray for his vicar,
our father, and Rome.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

We pray for our mother
the church upon earth,
and bless, sweetest lady,
the land of our birth.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

For poor, sick, afflicted
thy mercy we crave;
and comfort the dying
thou light of the grave.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

There is no need, Mary,
nor ever has been,
which thou canst not succour,
Immaculate Queen.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

In grief and temptation,
in joy or in pain,
we’ll ask thee, our mother,
nor seek thee in vain.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

O bless us, dear lady,
with blessings from heaven.
And to our petitions
let answer be given.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

In death’s solemn moment,
our mother, be nigh;
as children of Mary —
help us when we die.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

And crown thy sweet mercy
with this special grace,
to behold soon in heaven
God’s ravishing face.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

To God be all glory
and worship for aye,
and to God’s virgin mother
an endless Ave.

Ave, ave, ave Maria!
Ave, ave, ave Maria!

Happy Feast!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today we hear about a miraculous trawl of fish.

Christ is the King, O friends rejoice!
Brothers and sisters, with one voice
Make all men know he is your choice:
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 is his great name,
With the same faith his word proclaim:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Let Love's unconquerable might
God's people everywhere unite
In service to the Lord of light:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Forests of Inverness - 13

Here we see Fr James Bell, Parish Priest of St Mary's, Inverness leading some of his flock on a Rosary Walk in Culloden Forest.

They halted at St Mary's Well for prayer. In addition to Fr James we see a priest from Africa, a seminarian from Rome, and a monk from Pluscarden Abbey - quite a gathering!

Hail, Queen of heaven, the ocean star,
Guide of the wanderer here below,
Thrown on life's surge, we claim thy care,
Save us from peril and from woe.

Mother of Christ, Star of the sea
Pray for the wanderer, pray for me.

O gentle, chaste, and spotless Maid,
We sinners make our prayers through thee;
Remind thy Son that He has paid
The price of our iniquity.

Virgin most pure, Star of the sea,
Pray for the sinner, pray for me.

Sojourners in this vale of tears
Blest advocate, to thee we cry
Assuage our sorrows, calm our fears
And soothe with hope our misery.

Refuge in grief, Star of the sea
Pray for the mourner, pray for me.

And while to Him Who reigns above
In Godhead one, in Persons three,
The Source of life, of grace, of love,
Homage we pay on bended knee:

Do thou, bright Queen, Star of the sea,
Pray for thy children, pray for me.

We shall be having further Marian devotions on Monday.

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Forests of Inverness - 12

The entrance to Culloden Forest is just 2 minutes walk from my front door.

The Prisoners' Stone, now hidden amongst the trees remains a grim reminder of the Battle of Culloden. Victorious Government troops shot 17 Jacobite prisoners here on 17 April 1746, the day after the battle. Nearer to the car park, the Lord President's Seat is dedicated to the local laird Duncan Forbes who helped the Government side.

Pagan and Christian traditions merge at St Mary's Well - it's the local 'clootie well'. Visit on the first Sunday in May to dip your clot (rag) in the well and tie it to the tree to bring good luck, cure ailments, or ward off evil spirits!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Forests of Inverness - 11

Following in the footsteps of Her Royal Highness, we too now enter Culloden Forest.

This woodland consists mainly of conifer trees such as Scots Pine, Norway and Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir. There are several particularly large trees in Culloden Wood.

Broadleaved trees are retained throughout the forest during all operations, and Beech, Alder and Birch are planted to enhance the conservation and landscape value of the area.

Culloden Forest has been managed and worked by the Forestry Commission since 1926. It was previously owned by the Forbes family, from before the time of the Battle of Culloden.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Forests of Inverness - 10

Here we see The Princess Royal - HRH Princes Anne - meeting workers in Culloden Forest.

Today we celebrate the 61st Anniversary of the Accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Great God,
whose Son Jesus looks after us,
we thank you for our wonderful Queen.
On this special day,
please give her love, joy and peace
as she does what you ask her to do
and looks after us her people;
through Jesus Christ who loves us all. Amen.

God save our gracious Queen,
long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
happy and glorious,
long to reign over us,
God save the Queen!

Thy choicest gifts in store
on her be pleased to pour,
long may she reign:
may she defend our laws,
and ever give us cause
to sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen!

Guns were fired from Edinburgh Castle earlier today to salute Her Majesty on this special day.

The Queen spent the day quietly at Sandringham - where her father died 61 years ago today.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Forests of Inverness - 9

Craig Phadrig (Patrick's Rock) was an important hill fort in both Iron Age and Pictish times. Look out for the vitrified walls - the stones have been fused together by intense heat. We're not sure how or why this was done.

You are following in the footsteps of saints and kings when you walk in this woodland. We think St Columba came here to met the Pictish King Brude in 565.

I have been fortunate enough to obtain a video recording of St Columba meeting the Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) around this time.

Truly amazing!

Monday, 4 February 2013

The Forests of Inverness - 8

Today we are visiting Craig Phadrig Forest.

Craig Phadrig is a prominent hill overlooking Inverness, the Beauly Firth and the inner Moray Firth. There are the remains of an historical Pictish Fort on its summit.

The open nature of the woodland which contains a variety of trees, along with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside make Craig Phadrig the ideal place for an enjoyable woodland walk right on the doorstep of Inverness.

There is a regular bus service that runs from Church Street in the middle of Inverness to the Scorguie and Balnafettack areas - which are adjacent to Craig Phadrig Wood.

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord (transferred from yesterday). Please look closely at our image - it is full of hidden meaning!

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

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

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

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

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Forests of Inverness - 7

Here we se Dughall Mor - currently 62 metres tall and still growing strong!

Forestry Commission Scotland ran a competition among local people to find a name for this champion of the tree world, and christened it Dughall Mor, which in Gaelic means ‘big dark stranger’.

Dughall Mor forms part of a grove of very tall Douglas firs that comprise the largest concentration of trees exceeding 55 metres (180 feet) anywhere in the British Isles. They are so straight and tall that one was felled to provide a replacement mast for the Discovery, the ship in which explorer Sir Robert Scott sailed to the Antarctic. (The ‘Discovery’ is now berthed at Dundee.)

This fir is obviously thriving in the fertile and sheltered environment of the glen, with a ready supply of moisture from the Moniack Burn. This deceptive champion has a relatively slender trunk and its great height is difficult to appreciate, surrounded as it is by other giants.

Tragic news - Up to 2009, Dughall Mor was the tallest tree ever recorded in the United Kingdom. It has since been superseded by the Stronardon Douglas Fir, near Dunans Castle in Argyll.

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Forests of Inverness - 6

The most impressive feature of the woodland in Reelig Glen is the stand of Douglas Fir trees, well over 100 years old with an average height of 160 - 170 feet, around 50 metres.

One specimum measured in 2000 was over 200 feet in height. When the tree was remeasured and confirmed at 62 metres, it was the tallest tree In Britain at the time. After a local competition, it was named Dughall Mor.