“Trust * Hope * Believe” are the words on a recent bookmark posted out to members of our congregation. As you know, sadly all places of worship nationally have been closed for public worship services in our collective effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest guidance is that church buildings may now be re-opened for public worship from 5 July onwards if it is safe to do so. The required risk assessment has been carried out. As our building development project is still very much a work in progress, we have decided that regretfully, for the time being, it is not yet practical or safe to open our doors for private prayer nor for public worship. However, we do encourage you to continue praying at home or out on your daily walks instead, especially following our “10 for 10” scheme together. Thank you for your ongoing patience and faithful support. We will continue to act in line with Government and Diocesan guidelines and will of course review this decision as the summer unfolds. With love and blessings, Veronica
The following letter from Bishop Keith is clear:
A number of queries have been raised following the new government and Church of England guidance about the reopening of church buildings for public worship, in particular how the government and Church guidance is clear that this can only be done when it is safe to do so, and the requirement of the Canons for there to be public worship every Sunday.
My view is that the Canons are like the skeleton in the body; they need to be strong and tough so that the body can thrive, but the skeleton is not the whole body. The Canons remain and are there for our good and the good of the whole church. They were not designed or are able to cover every circumstance of the Church’s life; they are not the muscles, the flesh, or the bloodstream, and without the Holy Spirit they are dead. As the guidelines make clear, the priority is safety, and I want to make it clear that if anyone asks for my direction in relation to longer-term delay in the opening of buildings for public worship my view is that we dishonour the intention of the Canons unless we open safely, and I will be very sympathetic to the incumbent and PCC as I make that call.
I hope this is helpful and enables us all to balance permissive and prescriptive well. Of course, in the Lord’s mercy, so much more has been given to us over these last weeks, especially with those who have joined our worship online. I am praying that as a diocese, we don’t miss what God has been giving to us in the responsibility we now have to reopen safely. Perhaps the time of July and August will help us in this preparing for this next stage and enable us to keep learning from what we have been through.
Can I repeat so many thanks to everyone for the resilience and endurance (even when it may have felt anything but) over these last weeks and reassert the recent message in the pastoral letter about rest, holiday and sabbath.
With love in Christ
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St Oswald’s Church building will remain closed until further notice
There will be NO PUBLIC WORSHIP SERVICES at St Oswald’s and NO REMEMBRANCE SERVICES at the COLUMBARIUM – until further notice.
Please do let the Vicar or Churchwardens know if you are self-isolating, or if you are aware of someone else who might need us to keep in contact with them by phone for reassurance or to assist with shopping etc. Alternatively you can contact us using the form below. Thank you.
All planned services and events are suspended for the time being.
“10 for 10”
this uncertain time when we are not permitted to hold public worship services,
we invite members of our congregation and local community to join in a virtual
gathering day by day.
you are, please spend 10 minutes either at 10.00am or 10.00pm each day in the presence
of God, praying in silence or aloud, for the needs of our community and of the
world. You may wish to light a candle as you pray.
We hope that even though we are not physically together, each of us can still feel connected to one another and still able to join in worshipping God.
The words to this hymn were written by Revd William Henry Hammond Jervois (1825-1905). He was Vicar of St Mary Magdalene, Munster Square, London and was on the Committee that compiled the English Hymnal. The family name was pronounced “Jarvis”. At the time of his ordination (deacon 1878, priest 1879) his father was Governor of South Australia.
The tune provided here is not the one we usually sing this hymn to. “Gerard” was written by Arthur James Bramwell Hutchings (1906-1989), Professor of Music at Durham University and later at the University of Exeter. He was for many years a Director of the English Hymnal Company. The tune may not be familiar. But it is a lovely one and you can find it in the New English Hymnal for hymn number 323. It’s probably easier to learn the tune if it is sung to words you already know. Enjoy!
The tune is “Oswald’s Tree” – most appropriate for our parish! It was written by Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941) who succeeded Sir Edward Elgar as Master of the King’s Music in 1934. His setting of “God be in my Head” is well-known.
There were more verses in the original hymn, the final one being:
And may the gospel’s joyful sound, Enforced by mighty grace, Awaken many sinners round, To come and fill the place.
The words are by Revd John Samuel Bewley Monsell, (1811-1875) who was born in Ireland and ordained deacon in 1834 and priest in 1835. He came to England in 1853 to be Vicar of Egham, near Windsor. From 1870 until his death he was Rector of St Nicholas, Guildford and Chaplain to Queen Victoria. He wrote about 300 other hymns, including “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”.
The tune “Duke Street” is attributed to John Warrington Hatton (c1710-1793). Little is known about him other than that he lived on Duke Street, St Helens and that his funeral was held at the Presbyterian chapel in that town. It is said that he died in a stagecoach accident. The tune may originally have been written for the hymn “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun” by Isaac Watts (1674-1748).
The first two verses were written by Revd John Newton (1725-1807) – the last verse is a recent addition. John Newton was born into a Christian home, but his godly mother died when he was seven, and he joined his father at sea when he was eleven. His licentious and tumultuous sailing life included a flogging for attempted desertion from the Royal Navy and captivity by a slave trader in West Africa. After his escape he himself became the captain of a slave ship.
However, following a near-drowning, and influenced by the piety of his future wife he gave up the slave trade in 1754 and, in association with William Wilberforce, eventually became an ardent abolitionist. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1764 and wrote a number of hymns, including “Glorious things of Thee are spoken”, “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds” and “Amazing Grace” (the tune usually associated with this last was not published until 1835 – so he is not to blame for it!).
The tune “Gott des Himmels” was originally written by Heinrich Albert (1604-1651) sometime organist of Konigsberg Cathedral. The tune was adapted (ie simplified) by Charles Steggall (1826-1905), a Londoner who composed several hymn tunes still familiar today. In the arrangement here, the first verse is accompanied by Steggall’s version, while the last two verses are provided with the original melody and a harmony by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The online version is limited to 30 pages. One of the missing pages is “Mouse makes” from Parish pump. The full version of the magazine can be downloaded here. You can (if you wish) print individual pages from the download.
A short evening hymn referencing the Trinity. As we do not have sung Evensong as part of our normal service pattern at St Oswald’s, there are not so many evening hymns in our repertoire. Hopefully, our older parishioners won’t find the words of verse 3 too morbid, especially in a time of pestilence.
The words were written by Revd Richard Hayes Robinson (1842-1892), an Anglican clergyman born in Dublin. The hymn was written in 1869 for the parish of Upper Norwood while he was curate at nearby Penge (possibly in the same parish at that date).
That same year he was appointed as Minister to the Octagon Chapel, Bath “without cure of souls”. This chapel had been built in 1767 and had been a fashionable church for the likes of Jane Austen to attend while visiting Bath. The astronomer William Herschel was the first organist. However, as the chapel was leasehold, it was never consecrated. It fell out of use in the 1890s and became an antique shop.
The reason for including this hymn in the collection is for its tune “Vesper” by Sir John Stainer (1840-1901). The metre of the hymn is 77 75 and the only other well-known hymn of this format is “Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost” – which already has its own popular Stainer tune (“Charity”).
The writer of this hymn was Revd John Mason (1645-94). He was Rector of Water-Stratford (a village in Buckinghamshire) for the last 20 years of his life, which ended in sensational circumstances. He had a vision of the Lord Jesus about a month before his death, and proclaimed the imminent Second Coming. People crowded into the village from the surrounding area, thinking that he was predicting both the time and the place. There were apparently extraordinary scenes of singing and dancing. The excitement was scarcely over when the old man died.
The hymn originally had twelve verses, but most are no longer considered suitable for singing today. The hymnbook we use at St Oswald’s has the three verses included here. Other hymnals include the following before the final verse:
Enlighten with faith’s light my heart, Inflame it with love’s fire; Then shall I sing and bear a part With that celestial choir. I shall, I fear, be dark and cold, With all my fire and light; Yet when Thou dost accept their gold, Lord, treasure up my mite.
The tune “Coe Fen” probably has a lot to do with the popularity of this hymn today. It is the best-known hymn tune by Kenneth Nicholson Naylor (1931-1991), who was a music master at the Leys School, Cambridge, which is near the open space called Coe Fen. (The descant, written in 2006 by David Lee, has a one bar rest at the start of each half of the tune, and requires the omission of the word “Lord” in the first line.)
Revd John Mason wrote many other hymns that are rarely heard today. Revd John Mason Neale (1818-1866), the prolific translator of hymns into English, was named after him, his mother being a descendant of the old Rector.
After a long time in lockdown, it appears that things are getting better and hopefully soon we will be able to meet together as a congregation in our own church once again.
Today is the Third Sunday after Trinity and as we celebrate St Peter tomorrow, it is also known as Petertide. Traditionally in the Anglican Church this is the time when new priests are ordained, and Veronica was ordained as a deacon 29 years ago at Petertide.
In today’s short Gospel St. Matthew speaks about water.
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
Have you ever been really thirsty? Perhaps you have been doing the housework, or been out shopping and said: “I’m dying for a cup of tea – or mug of coffee”. Or you have been playing or watching sport, and looked forward to a nice glass of lemonade or something else! Have you been watching tennis and seen the players taking their break and invariably a drink. I wonder how many of you remember when the only drink supplied was Robinson’s Lemon Barleywater. Or perhaps you have taken part in a nice friendly game of football, – if there is such a thing – or the rough and tumble on the Rugby field and then enjoyed half a pint of shandy or perhaps even a pint.
Yes, you were thirsty, but not REALLY THIRSTY, not dehydrated as in a desert region, when the lack of liquid in the body becomes life threatening. I haven’t really been in that position, but I got close to it when I was in Bahrein. Some of you may know that in the Persian Gulf in the middle of summer it gets very hot. I won’t bore you with all the details but I was required to fly a low level flight over the harbour and surrounding coastline. It was nearly noon and it was too hot to touch the metal of the wings with bare hands. Getting into the cockpit, was like getting into an oven, and flying around at low level with the sun beating through the canopy was as hot as I imagine Hades to be. When all was done, after an hour, I was soaked in perspiration and had probably lost about four pints of liquid and felt quite faint.
I did not want lemonade, I did not want beer; all I wanted was cool water.
What did our Gospel say? “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these…”Even a cup of cold water! I would have given a king’s ransom for that. No! In the desert, or the hot lands of Palestine, the gift of a cup of cold water is not to be sneered at – it is a gift beyond price.
In the passage this water is to be given to “one of these little ones because he is my disciple”. Jesus talks a lot about children, but here he is talking about his band of followers. The whole of Matthew chapter 10, which has been set as the Gospel over the last three weeks, tells us about Jesus and his instructions to his disciples. Earlier he had told them about what to do, “As you go, preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near’ “. This is a direct instruction from Jesus to his disciples that they were to go out and spread God’s word.
And we as followers of Jesus we are also tasked to spread his word. Today that is called ‘mission’, and we know that if there is no mission then we are not a church. Mission is our work and we know it is not easy to spread God’s word to those who do not wish to hear. In the Gospel reading, Jesus is talking about the rewards. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.” What a wonderful thought, and so clear. Jesus was sending out his disciples to take news of the kingdom of heaven to the Jews.
They were doing his work and so those who received the disciples favourably, or welcomed them as it is translated in the New Jerusalem Bible, were also welcoming Jesus and those who received Jesus were welcoming God the Father who had sent him. And so today, if we are God’s true disciples, anyone who is receptive to your telling the good news of the Kingdom of God and spreading the Gospel message, is welcoming Jesus; and anyone who welcomes Jesus welcomes the one who sent Him, that is God the Father.
And going on with the reading, “Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward”. What do we mean by a prophet and a prophet’s reward? Where would we look for a righteous man today? In today’s world we can think of a missionary or a person going out to spread God’s word as a prophet and I would hope that all modern day Christians would be righteous men and women.
OK. so we can understand that a prophet should receive a reward in the life hereafter, but why should anyone who receives him or her, receive the same reward? That is the wonderful simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For those who believe that Jesus, the Son of God, was crucified for our sins, and rose again on the third day, the reward is eternal life; to be made heirs of the Kingdom of God.
By the Grace of God, that reward is the same for all, you might say, that for those who receive Jesus into their life and are born anew, it is their birthright. I remember a sermon many years ago, when the preacher emphasised: The Gift, the Blessing and the Call.
God in his loving mercy has given us the chance to be free from our sins. If we acknowledge our sins and accept that gift, God showers us with many blessings, one of which is eternal life – to be with Him in glory. And after we have received the blessings we each have a call, to live out our faith in our everyday lives and to pass on the good news of God’s love to others. The Gift, the Blessing and the Call.
Let us return to thinking about the gift of cold water. In the Bible we have lots of imagery concerning thirst and water and wells, because it was easily understood by a people who were aware of the importance of water in a hot dry land. They could not get water by just turning on a tap.
We all remember the story from St John’s Gospel about the Samaritan woman at the well in the heat of the day and how Jesus told her, “Everyone who drinks the water (from this well) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
We are all thirsty for spiritual refreshment and we turn to Jesus because he is the only one who can protect, refresh and sustain us. Without God in our life we are nothing. But with the gift of spiritual water that Christ is offering – and that spiritual water will become in us a spring of water welling up to eternal life – we can be born again and do anything in the name of Jesus.
And remember what happened to the Samaritan woman when she had accepted Christ’s gift she rushes back to her village to witness to Jesus and lead others to him. This is the proof of living water, the stuff of the new birth – a life redirected from being a sinner to being a glorious witness for Christ.
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply on us your mercy; that with you as our ruler and guide we may pass through things temporal that we lose not our things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ sake, AMEN.