Saturday, November 21, 2015

War Memorial Chapel window, St John the Baptist, Stockcross

Costing £600 at the time of its installation in 1922, the east window of the south aisle of Stockcross church in Berkshire depicts the crucifixion against a background of banners and flags, a possible reference to the Latin hymn at Vespers of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Vexilla Regis. Around the Lord, who has 'reigned and triumphed from the tree' are arrayed soldiers and saints, including two men in modern military dress representing the army and the navy. These youths, their faces hidden from the viewer, are identified with the youthful Christ who looks with gentleness on those who adore him from below. In the upper tracery are the crests of the Royal Berkshire Regiment and of the Life Guards, and the arms of the Oxford diocese.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Richard Hooker on God's Ordering of Nature

'And as it cometh to pass in a kingdom rightly ordered, that after a law is once published, it presently takes effect far and wide, all states framing themselves thereunto; even so let us think it fareth in the natural course of the world: since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts of his law upon it, heaven and earth have hearkened unto his voice, and their labour hath been to do his will: He "made a law for the rain;" He gave his "decree unto the sea, that the waters should not pass his commandment." ... See we not plainly that the obedience of all creatures unto the law of nature is the stay of the whole world?'

--- Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book One, III, 1.

Unknown Man
(formerly known as Richard Hooker)
anonymous, 16th century

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Bishop Stubbs on Jesus' Relationship to the Scriptures

'His omniscience is of the essence of the personality in which manhood and Godhead united in him. With this belief I feel that I am bound to accept the language of our Lord in reference to the Old Testament Scriptures as beyond appeal... Where he speaks of David in spirit calling him Lord, I believe that David in spirit did call him Lord, and I am not affected by doubts thrown on the authorship of the 110th Psalm, except so far as to use his authority is to set those doubts aside... I cannot bear to anticipate a day when the Church shall cry out to Jesus of Nazareth, "Thou hast deceived me and I was deceived"; or to the unknown and unknowable, "Why didst thou let him deceive himself and us?"'

--- William Stubbs' Second Visitation Charge in the Diocese of Oxford (1893)

William Stubbs, Bishop of Oxford
Charles Wellington Furse (1892)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Bishop Ryle on Resting in Christ

'Now I call on every reader of this paper who is a believer, I beseech him for his own sake, to make sure that Christ is really and thoroughly his all in all. Beware of allowing yourself to mingle anything of your own with Christ.

Have you faith? It is a priceless blessing. Happy indeed are they who are willing and ready to trust Jesus. But take heed you do not make a Christ of your faith. Rest not on your own faith, but on Christ.

Is the work of the Spirit in your soul? Thank God for it. It is a work that shall never over thrown. But oh, beware, lest, unawares to yourself, you make a Christ of the work of the Spirit! Rest not on the work of the Spirit, but on Christ.

Have you any inward feelings of religion, and experience of grace? Thank God for it. Thousands have no more religious feeling than a cat or dog. But oh, beware lest you make a Christ of your feelings and sensations! They are poor, uncertain things, and sadly dependent on our bodies and outward circumstances. Rest not a grain of weight on your feelings. Rest only on Christ.

Learn, I entreat you, to look more and more at the great object of faith, Jesus Christ, and to keep your mind dwelling on Him. So doing you would find faith, and all the other graces grow, though the growth at the time might be imperceptible to yourself. He that would prove a skilful archer, must look not at the arrow, but at the mark.'

--- J.C. Ryle, 'Christ is All'

The Adoration of the Christ Child
follower of Jan Joest (c. 1515)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Bishop Neill on the Character of the Anglican Liturgical Tradition

'By 1552, the main lines of the Anglican liturgical tradition have become plainly apparent. It is Biblical. For steady and systematic Bible-reading on the large scale, no other Church in the world can compare with the Anglican. It is intellectual; the Anglican Prayer Book is not intended for the intellectually idle; it demands that those who use it should exercise themselves to understand, and it will give little of its riches to those who merely acquiesce. It is sober; it never aims at awaking immediate and facile emotion; it relies on the development of deep currents of feeling through the patient contemplation of the mysteries of the Gospel. It is ethical. Perhaps the profound sense of sin reawakened in Reformation times by the renewed study of the Scriptures weighs a little too heavy on it. It is characteristic of the whole book that the Exhortation of Morning and Evening Prayer bids us approach God with an humble, penitent, lowly and obedient heart. But it is part of the strength of the Anglican tradition that it has never allowed it to be supposed that worship can exist in separation from conduct, or that emotion can usurp the function of conscience.'

--- Stephen Neill, 'The Anglican Tradition in Liturgy and Devotion' published in The Churchman

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Feast of St Michael and All Angels

St Michael Vanquishing Satan
Gustave Moreau (1826-98)

'And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.'
--- Revelation 8:4

'Thou wert seen in the Temple of God,
A censer of gold in thy hands,
And the smoke of it fragrant with spices
Rose up till it came before God.'
--- Alcuin,  from Sequence for St Michael

'Yet we beseche thee to accepte thys our bounden duetie and service, and commaunde these our prayers and supplicacions, by the Ministery of thy holy Angels, to be brought up into thy holy Tabernacle before the syght of thy dyvine majestie; not waiyng our merites, but pardonyng our offences, through Christe our Lorde.'
--- 1549 Book of Common Prayer, from the Prayer of Consecration

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Above the Stars My Saviour Dwells

'[Thomas] Tomkins' career exemplifies the maintenance of the great tradition of English church music throughout the early Stuart period, without any remarkable innovations: it is complex, accomplished, wonderfully responsive to the words of the Book of Common Prayer.' --- Graham Parry

Above the stars my Saviour dwells;
I love, I care for nothing else.

There, there he sits and fills a place
for the glorious heirs of grace. 

Dear Saviour, raise my duller eyne;
let me but see thy beams divine.

Ravish my soul with wonder and desire;
ere I enjoy, let me thy joys admire.

And wond'ring let me say,
come, Lord Jesu, come away.