Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Christmas Carols - 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.

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

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

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

The holly and the ivy
Now both are full well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

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

Monday, 30 December 2013

Christmas Carols - 6

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas Carols - 5

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

The cattle are lowing,
the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus,
no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus,
look down from the sky
And stay by my bedside
till morning is nigh.

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

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas Carols - 4

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!
For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the blessèd Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

Yesterday, I was reviewing some of the previous Christmas Messages of The Queen. I was particularly moved my the message she gave us in 1984, and I share it with you now.

My word, how the years fly!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas Carols - 3

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”


Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.


Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.


Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas Carols - 2

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of angels;


O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo, He abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God,
Begotten, not created;


See how the shepherds,
Summoned to His cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh with lowly fear;
We too will thither
Bend our joyful footsteps;


Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God,
In the highest;


Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing.


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

The Queen's Christmas Message - 2013

I have been able to post the message within 45 minutes of issue! It brings back happy memories of my visit to Buckingham Palace on 14 July 2013.

I once knew someone who spent a year in a plaster cast recovering from an operation on his back. He read a lot, and thought a lot, and felt miserable.

Later, he realised this time of forced retreat from the world had helped him to understand the world more clearly.

We all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock. Be it through contemplation, prayer, or even keeping a diary, many have found the practice of quiet personal reflection surprisingly rewarding, even discovering greater spiritual depth to their lives.

Reflection can take many forms. When families and friends come together at Christmas, it’s often a time for happy memories and reminiscing. Our thoughts are with those we have loved who are no longer with us. We also remember those who through doing their duty cannot be at home for Christmas, such as workers in essential or emergency services.

And especially at this time of year we think of the men and women serving overseas in our armed forces. We are forever grateful to all those who put themselves at risk to keep us safe.

Service and duty are not just the guiding principles of yesteryear; they have an enduring value which spans the generations.

I myself had cause to reflect this year, at Westminster Abbey, on my own pledge of service made in that great church on Coronation Day sixty years earlier.

The anniversary reminded me of the remarkable changes that have occurred since the Coronation, many of them for the better; and of the things that have remained constant, such as the importance of family, friendship and good neighbourliness.

But reflection is not just about looking back. I and many others are looking forward to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.

The baton relay left London in October and is now the other side of the world, on its way across seventy nations and territories before arriving in Scotland next summer. Its journey is a reminder that the Commonwealth can offer us a fresh view of life.

My son Charles summed this up at the recent meeting in Sri Lanka. He spoke of the Commonwealth’s “family ties” that are a source of encouragement to many. Like any family there can be differences of opinion. But however strongly they’re expressed they are held within the common bond of friendship and shared experiences.

Here at home my own family is a little larger this Christmas.

As so many of you will know, the arrival of a baby gives everyone the chance to contemplate the future with renewed happiness and hope. For the new parents, life will never be quite the same again!

As with all who are christened, George was baptised into a joyful faith of Christian duty and service. After the christening, we gathered for the traditional photograph.

It was a happy occasion, bringing together four generations.

In the year ahead, I hope you will have time to pause for moments of quiet reflection. As the man in the plaster cast discovered, the results can sometimes be surprising.

For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people. The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach.

On the first Christmas, in the fields above Bethlehem, as they sat in the cold of night watching their resting sheep, the local shepherds must have had no shortage of time for reflection. Suddenly all this was to change. These humble shepherds were the first to hear and ponder the wondrous news of the birth of Christ - the first noel - the joy of which we celebrate today.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

Christmas Carols - 1

O Holy Night! The stars, their gleams prolonging,
Watch o'er the eve of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error, longing
For His appearance, then the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hears the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was Born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts we stand by the Babe adored.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
And come now, Shepherds, from your flocks unboard.
The Son of God lay thus within lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our Lord.
He knows our need, our weakness never lasting,
Behold your King! By Him, let Earth accord!
Behold your King! By Him, let Earth accord!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Long live His truth, and may it last forever,
For in His name all discordant noise shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise us,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!

A highpoint of Christmas Day for many people is the Christmas Message of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - which will be broadcast at 3.00 pm. I shall be posting the message later today, as soon as I am able to obtain a copy from Buckingham Palace.


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 20

Today we end our Advent visit to Salisbury Cathedral - soon the night will be bathed in the new radiance of the incarnate Word.

O thou the central orb of righteous love,
Pure beam of the most high, eternal light
Of this our wintry world, thy radiance bright
Awakes new joy in faith, hope soars above.

Come, quickly come, and let thy glory shine,
Gilding our darksome heaven with rays divine;
Thy saints with holy lustre round thee move,
As stars about thy throne, set in the height
Of God's ordaining counsel, as thy sight
Gives measured grace to each, thy power to prove.

Let thy bright beams disperse the gloom of sin,
Our nature all shall feel eternal day,
In fellowship with thee, transforming clay
To souls erewhile unclean, now pure within. Amen.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 19

Here we see the tower and spire against the night sky.

Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people’s everlasting light,
Jesu, Redeemer, save us all,
And hear Thy servants when they call.

Thou, grieving that the ancient curse
Should doom to death a universe,
Hast found the medicine, full of grace,
To save and heal a ruined race.

Thou cam’st, the Bridegroom of the bride,
As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
The spotless Victim all divine.

At Whose dread Name, majestic now,
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
And things celestial Thee shall own,
And things terrestrial, Lord alone.

O Thou Whose coming is with dread
To judge and doom the quick and dead,
Preserve us, while we dwell below,
From every insult of the foe.

To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Laud, honour, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally. Amen.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

4th Sunday of Advent

On this final Sunday of Advent our focus turns to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Well, one knows one is getting old when bishops start to look young. I will leave you to decide which is the real Bishop of Salisbury! All I can say is that at this particular service the Magnificat (The Song of Mary) is usually sung to the beautiful setting of Stanford in G.

My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.
Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 18

Finally, here is the view looking north towards the city centre. Just think what a magnificent view these houses must have from their windows and gardens!

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 17

We are now looking east from the top of the Cathedral tower.

1. People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

3. Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

4. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the star, is on the way.

5. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 16

Now we are looking south towards Salisbury Cathedral School - what a fabulous location for a school!

Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding.
"Christ is nigh," it seems to say;
"Cast away the works of darkness,
O ye children of the day."

Wakened by the solemn warning,
let the earth-bound soul arise;
Christ, her Sun, all sloth dispelling,
shines upon the morning skies.

Lo! the Lamb, so long expected,
comes with pardon down from heaven;
let us all, with tears of sorrow,
pray that we may be forgiven;

that when next he comes with glory,
and the world is wrapped in fear,
with his mercy he may shield us,
and with words of love draw near.

Honour, glory, might, and blessing
to the Father and the Son,
with the everlasting Spirit,
while eternal ages run.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 15

Here we are looking west from the top of the Cathedral tower - the spire is looming above us!

There are some magnificent properties on the Cathedral Close - including the Bishop's House.

Hark! the glad sound! the Savior comes,
the Saviour promised long:
let every heart prepare a throne,
and every voice a song.

He comes the prisoners to release
in Satan's bondage held;
the gates of brass before him burst,
the iron fetters yield.

He comes, the broken heart to bind,
the bleeding soul to cure;
and with the treasures of his grace
to enrich the humble poor.

Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,
thy welcome shall proclaim;
and heaven's eternal arches ring
with thy beloved Name.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 14

Here we are looking up the inside of the spire - amazing!

Well, there's a rather obvious hymn for us to sing today!

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

It always amazes me how many churches sing this hymn before 17 December. Really, clergy and church musicians should know better!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 13

We are climbing higher and higher up the tower - a good job nobody is wanting to descend!

Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
once for our salvation slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Christ the Lord returns to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at nought and sold him,
pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

Those dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture,
gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory;
claim the kingdom for thine own:
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.

This is not only my favourite Advent hymn - it is one of my favourite hymns, full stop!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

3rd Sunday of Advent

Today we focus on John the Baptist.

On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
awake and hearken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
make straight the way for God within,
prepare we in our hearts a home
where such a mighty Guest may come.

For thou art our salvation, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward;
without thy grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.

To heal the sick stretch out thine hand,
and bid the fallen sinner stand;
shine forth and let thy light restore
earth's own true loveliness once more.

All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
whose advent doth thy people free;
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 12

Here we see the impressive hour bell.

Every September one of the Cathedral guides takes all the new choristers up the tower. The highlight is witnessing the striking of the clock at noon. The boys and girls are told to sit down quietly and count to twelve. This year it went ... eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen ... and there were shrieks of excitement from the bell tower! Unknown to the Guide, there was a small funeral taking place in one of the side chapels, and the coffin was leaving by a side door at precisely 12 noon. The Head Verger was following the twelve stokes of noon with further manual ringing of the hour bell. Fortunately, the mourners appeared to be unaware of all the howling taking place above!

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!
The wedding song
Swells loud and strong:
Go forth and join the festal throng.

Sion hears the watchmen shouting,
Her heart leaps up with joy undoubting,
She stands and waits with eager eyes;
See her Friend from heaven descending,
Adorned with truth and grace unending!
Her light burns clear, her star doth rise.
Now come, thou precious Crown,
Lord Jesu, God's own Son!
Let us prepare
To follow there,
Where in thy supper we may share.

Every soul in thee rejoices;
From men and from angelic voices
Be glory given to thee alone!
Now the gates of pearl receive us,
Thy presence never more shall leave us,
We stand with Angels round thy throne.
Earth cannot give below
The bliss thou dost bestow.
Grant us to raise,
To length of days
The triumph-chorus of thy praise.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 11

Here we see the all important clock mechanism in the tower. We are all very aware of time in this Advent Season - as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever. Amen.

Our 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.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 10

We are now working our way up to the tower of the Cathedral - a very fine and impressive structure.

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.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 9

On Advent Sunday this year there was a very solemn dedication of a new feature in the Cathedral...

...the new toilet block!

Salisbury Cathedral has taken a big step towards improving its facilities for visitors, congregation and all who use and work in the building. Its long-awaited project to provide new toilet facilities and storage space in the ‘Little Paradise’ site between the Chapter House and south transept is now well underway, with a purpose-designed building taking shape.

The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, said “We are keen to make the Cathedral more welcoming and comfortable for all who come here, and this resource will undoubtedly help with that. Our existing facilities really don’t do justice to the other aspects of our hospitality and a lack of space means some bulky items are stored in parts of our cloisters, detracting from that beautiful and reflective space. ‘Little Paradise’ is the ancient name for the area between the Cathedral and the Chapter House and it will, I hope, bring much comfort to those who visit it in the future! We expect the work to be completed by the end of November ready for the great Advent and Christmas services and are grateful to the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral who have funded this project to date and are committed to raising more.”

The new ‘Little Paradise’ building will replace the existing temporary and inadequate structures and enhance the appearance of the south side of the building. Its design will ensure that it harmonises with the Cathedral and has minimal impact on the fabric. It is to be constructed in stone with flint masonry with access through an existing doorway in the east cloister wall.

The need for extra toilet facilities has long been apparent and will be especially important during the busy summer months and for Salisbury Cathedral’s many services and events. Together with the restoration work on the north cloister, they continue the preparations for Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary in 2015 when the Cathedral expects to welcome many thousands of people to see the finest of the four surviving 1215 exemplars.

I have avoided the temptation of suggesting a suitable hymn for the occasion!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 8

Here we see the magnificent 'Living Water' font in the nave of the Cathedral. It was installed in September 2008.

Perhaps the most significant addition to the fabric of an English Cathedral in recent years, it has been designed by William Pye, Britain’s most distinguished water sculptor, and is the Cathedral’s first permanent font for over 150 years. Cruciform in shape and with a three metre span to allow total immersion baptism, it is a beautiful green patinated bronze vessel with a Purbeck Freestone plinth and brown patinated bronze grating. The Salisbury Font has been specifically designed to combine both movement and stillness, with living streams of water flowing from its four corners whilst a perfectly smooth, still surface of water reflects the surrounding architecture of the cathedral.

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,
spring form eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint, when 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.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 7

It's time to move inside the lovely Cathedral. Here we see the nave - magnificent!

What is special about Salisbury Cathedral?

+ Britain's finest 13th century Cathedral
+ An important heritage attraction and a beautiful and historic building
+ An iconic building recognised by Britain's tallest spire (123m/404ft)
+ Britain's largest secular Cathedral Cloisters with newly landscaped garden
+ Stunning setting in the largest and perhaps most lovely Cathedral Close in Britain (80 acres)
+ The best preserved of only four surviving original Magna Carta (AD1215), listed on the UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ with huge worldwide recognition
+ Spectacular flowing ‘living water’ font by William Pye (2008)
+ A unique 13th century stone frieze of bible stories in the Chapter House
+ World's oldest working clock (AD1386)
+ The largest and earliest set of Quire stalls in Britain
+ Regular major art exhibitions/installations
+ A choir which continues a tradition of daily sung worship that goes back hundreds of years
+ Participates in Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Service

Sunday, 8 December 2013

2nd Sunday of Advent

We observe today as Bible Sunday.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,
that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,
which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.

Lord, Thy Word abideth,
And our footsteps guideth;
Who its truth believeth
Light and joy receiveth.

When our foes are near us,
Then Thy Word doth cheer us,
Word of consolation,
Message of salvation.

When the storms are o’er us,
And dark clouds before us,
Then its light directeth,
And our way protecteth.

Who can tell the pleasure,
Who recount the treasure,
By Thy Word imparted
To the simple hearted?

Word of mercy, giving
Succor to the living;
Word of life, supplying
Comfort to the dying!

O that we, discerning,
Its most holy learning,
Lord, may love and fear Thee,
Evermore be near Thee!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 6

Here we see boys from the Cathedral School playing rugby on a games afternoon.

Situated in one of the most spectacular locations in England, Salisbury Cathedral School is a thriving independent day and boarding school for around 200 girls and boys aged from 3 to 13. With the former Bishop’s Palace at its heart and in 27 acres of beautiful grounds within the Cathedral Close, the school has a special relationship with the Cathedral and educates the choristers who make up its two world famous choirs.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 5

Here we see another fine house on the Close - a suitable earthly dwelling place for a humble deacon?

Now, a nice hymn as I continue to remember my father in his heavenly dwelling place.

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

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

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

O sweet and blessèd country, the home of God’s elect!
O sweet and blessèd country, that eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us to that dear land of rest,
Who art, with God the Father, and Spirit, ever blessed.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 4

There are some lovely houses in the Cathedral Close - here is one at the south gate.

Salisbury cathedral, a cathedral of the old foundation, has been served by priests living a secular life and not by any monastic order. When the cathedral, the Close and the city were planned the canons were each allocated an acre and a half of ground within the Liberty of the Close on which to build their houses. Whilst all members of the Chapter are equal there were a number who were considered more equal than others. These were the "personae"; the Dean, Precentor, Chancellor, Treasurer and the Archdeacons, who were each granted a double allocation of three acres. For this reason one finds the larger houses on the West Walk of the close backing on to the River Avon. Originally the houses were occupied by canons of the cathedral , chantry priests , vicars and lay persons connected with the cathedral. Today only five members of Chapter are resident in the Close and the other properties are mainly held on lease from the Dean and Chapter by private residents.

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
whose trust, ever childlike, 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.

I remember with thanksgiving my father Ronnie Simpson who died on 5 December 1961 at the age of 44. I was 8 at the time and showed great spirituality even at that tender age. When my mother came to my Primary School to tell me the news I said 'Oh dear! Will we still be able to have a turkey for Christmas?'. No comments, please! I ask for his prayers in heaven.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 3

From the outside, Salisbury is my favourite Cathedral in the UK. From the inside, the prize probably goes to York Minster.

Salisbury is unique amongst medieval English cathedrals having been built in just 38 years (1220 - 1258) in a single architectural style, early English Gothic. The tower and spire (Britain's tallest) were added about 50 years later. The building itself is remarkable, a testimony to the faith and practical skills of those who erected it.

But it is much more than a historical monument. It is a living church and a place of prayer. As the Cathedral Church of the Salisbury diocese it is Mother Church of several hundred parishes in Wiltshire and Dorset. It is also a centre of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When you begin the day, O never fail to say,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
And at your work rejoice, to sing with heart and voice,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Whene’er the sweet church bell peals over hill and dell,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
O hark to what it sings, as joyously it rings,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

My tongue shall never tire of chanting with the choir,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
This song of sacred joy, it never seems to cloy,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

To God, the Word, on high, the host of angels cry,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let mortals, too, upraise their voice in hymns of praise,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this at meals your grace, in every time and place;
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this, when day is past, of all your thoughts the last
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When mirth for music longs, this is my song of songs:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evening shadows fall, this rings my curfew call,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

The night becomes as day when from the heart we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

No lovelier antiphon in all high Heav’n is known
Than, Jesus Christ be praised!
There to the eternal Word the eternal psalm is heard:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Let all the earth around ring joyous with the sound:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
In Heaven’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Sing, suns and stars of space, sing, ye that see His face,
Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s whole creation o’er, for aye and evermore
Shall Jesus Christ be praised!

In Heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let earth, and sea and sky from depth to height reply,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Sing this eternal song through all the ages long:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 2

I paid a visit to Salisbury Cathedral at the end of November.

For over 750 years pilgrims have come to Salisbury to seek inspiration in the glory and peace of the building and surrounding Cathedral Close. Whether you come to worship, to marvel at or climb up to Britain's tallest spire, to be awed by the beauty and scale of the cathedral interior or to study the original Magna Carta in our Chapter House, you will receive a warm welcome - as I did!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Salisbury Cathedral - 1

One of the themes of Advent is moving from darkness to light - and this is powerfully expressed each year in Salisbury Cathedral at Divine Service on the evening of Advent Sunday.

One of the hymns which is always sung at this service is 'Thou, whose almighty word', so let's join in now!

Thou, whose almighty word
chaos and darkness heard,
and took their flight;
hear us, we humbly pray,
and, where the Gospel day
sheds not its glorious ray,
let there be light!

Thou who didst come to bring
on thy redeeming wing
healing and sight,
heal to the sick in mind,
sight to the in-ly blind,
now to all humankind,
let there be light!

Spirit of truth and love,
life-giving holy Dove,
speed forth thy flight!
Move on the waters' face
bearing the gifts of grace,
and, in earth's darkest place,
let there be light!

Holy and blessèd Three,
glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, Love, Might;
boundless as ocean's tide,
rolling in fullest pride,
through the world far and wide,
let there be light!

Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ
came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. AMEN.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

1st Sunday of Advent

Today we rejoice that the night of our long pilgrimage to God's eternal city, the new Jerusalem, will soon be over. The Lord's unending day is dawning. Already, in the words of Isaiah, we see 'the mountain of the Temple of the Lord' etched against the eastern sky. Let us wake up and stand ready.

Awake! Awake! Fling off the night,
for God has sent a glorious light,
and we who live in Christ's new day
must works of darkness put away.

Awake and sing, with praises strong,
in psalm and hymn and spirit-song.
Let love our words and works renew
with all that's good and right and true.

Let in the light; all sin expose
to Christ, whose life no darkness knows.
Before the cross expectant kneel,
that Christ may judge, and judging, heal.

Then rise as children of the light.
Be neither proud, nor hide from sight.
Be careful how you live, and wise
to sift the truth from cunning lies.

Through Christ give thanks to God, and say
to other sleepers on the way:
"Awake, and rise up from the dead
that Christ may shine on you instead!"

Happy New Year!