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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Jesu Auctor Clementiae

Jesus, source of mercy,
our hope of all joy,
spring of sweetness and grace,
true delight of the heart.

Jesus, glory of the angels,
sweet song in the ear,
wonderful honey in the mouth,
heavenly nectar in the heart.

Jesus, flower of a virgin mother,
honeycomb of marvellous sweetness,
ornament of the human race,
bestow the brightness of the true light.

Allegory of the Eucharist
Juan Correa, 1690

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bishop Sheepshanks

'Zeal for the conversion of the heathen is the thermometer of love for Christ.'

John Sheepshanks (1834-1910) was ordained in 1857 and held posts in Leeds and as a chaplain in Colombia. He was made bishop of Norwich in 1893 and recorded his travels- including several years in the Canadian wilderness- in a book titled A Bishop In The Rough (1908). He also produced several ecclesiastically inclined works including Confirmation and Unction of the Sick (1889). He is here photographed wearing the cope and morse designed by Ninian Comper for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Salvate Christi Vulnera

Salvate Christi Vulnera is the Office Hymn for Lauds on the Feast of the Precious Blood.

The Five Holy Wounds
from the Loftie Hours
mid-15th century
Use of Utrecht

Hail, holy Wounds of Jesus, hail,
Sweet pledges of the saving Rood,
Whence flow the streams that never fail,
The purple streams of His dear Blood.

Brighter than brightest stars ye show,
Than sweetest rose your scent more rare,
No Indian gem may match your glow,
No honey’s taste with yours compare.

Portals ye are to that dear home
Wherein our wearied souls may hide,
Whereto no angry foe can come,
The Heart of Jesus crucified.

What countless stripes our Jesus bore,
All naked left in Pilate’s hall!
From His torn flesh ow red a shower
Did round His sacred person fall!

His beauteous brow, oh, shame and grief,
By the sharp thorny crown is riven;
Through hands and feet, without relief,
The cruel nails are rudely driven.

But when for our poor sakes He died,
A willing Priest by love subdued,
The soldier’s lance transfixed His side,
Forth flowed the Water and the Blood.

In full atonement of our guilt,
Careless of self, the Saviour trod—
E’en till His Heart’s best Blood was spilt—
The wine-press of the wrath of God.

Come, bathe you in the healing flood,
All ye who mourn, by sin opprest;
Your only hope is Jesus’ Blood,
His Sacred Heart your only rest.

All praise to Him, the Eternal Son,
At God’s right hand enthroned above,
Whose Blood our full redemption won,
Whose Spirit seals the gift of love.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

east windows, Bury St Edmunds Cathedral

For the newly-designed quire of Bury St Edmunds
Cathedral, S.E. Dykes-Bower rearranged
extant Victorian glass by C.E. Kempe
in such a manner that it seems medieval.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sermon for Holy Tuesday 2015, preached at St Pancras Old Church

Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me…’

In our gospel reading this evening the stage is set for betrayal. Judas receives from the hand of Our Lord a piece of bread and the devil enters him. A jealous heart sells a friend and teacher for silver. Do it quickly, Jesus says.

The one who made man gives himself to be unmade by a man and so begins the steep ascent to the hill of Golgotha, the place of the skull, where earth and sky themselves will cry out in anguish, Why have you forsaken me?!

And we hear Peter, dear, stalwart- sometimes slightly thick- Peter say to Jesus ‘Lord, where are you going?’ ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me,’ is the reply. Ah, Peter, if you only knew you would not want to follow! ‘You will follow me later,’ says Jesus, and so he will- crucified like his Lord on a hill outside Rome, that great and mighty city.

Where are we in the drama of this Holy Tuesday? Do we stand outside taking in the scene or do we enter it, in heart and mind?

Come, let us go in for we are Peter. We who love our Lord and teacher say to him, Lord where are you going? I will go with you; I will even die for you. We sit like Peter at table, wondering at our master’s words, pained by his prophecy, ‘you will deny me.’

We have denied him- in a thousand little ways: when we have placed love of self above love of God, when we have opened our mouths to wound rather than heal, when we have taken away when we should have given abundantly, when we have held in our hearts the jealousy of Judas.

You see, we are Judas too. But Jesus says to us still, I must go alone because where I am going you cannot follow. This terrible thing I must undergo alone. Only I can do this, and you sweet ones, whose love is now so bold, will deny me. You will disown me, say you never knew me, and your loving hearts will be turned to grief as you hear the words from your own mouths, ‘I do not know the man.’ You will betray me for earthly gain and your heart will break for it.

Speaking through the prophet Isaiah the Spirit of Jesus says, ‘I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me.’ Now, at this supper with his disciples, that holy child born of Mary prepares to tread the winepress of the wrath of God alone. He who was born in perfect innocence readies himself to die the death of the guilty which we have deserved from our birth. The one who was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger will put on a kingly robe and be mocked by soldiers, the stripped of that same robe now stained red with blood, stripped of his dignity and exposed to the world who will shake their heads and call out in cruel taunts ‘Let him save himself.’

But, oh my people, says Jesus, all this I do for you. I am betrayed by my friends for you; I am mocked and spat upon for you; I am whipped and crowned with thorns for you; I am stripped naked for you; I am lifted up for you. I do not will to save myself because in suffering this I am saving you! ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me.’

Caught up in the scene and knowing we are a part of it, our hearts plead with Jesus to let us go with him. But he hears us and he says, gently, No. Where I am going you cannot follow me.

What a gift, this holy ‘No.’ You cannot come with me, says Jesus, because you cannot bear the mocking, you cannot bear the cross, you cannot bear the sin of the world on your human shoulders. Only my divine Spirit can bear such a load. Only my heart of love can absorb the wrath of God for sin. Only my own spirit can tread the winepress alone, can satisfy divine justice and lift the curse of the fall. Only the seed of the woman, promised from the beginning, can open the way to eternity. And in this, we may follow.

As Jesus goes out to bear our sin alone in the desolation beyond the city- beyond human habitation- he opens a way for us through his pierced hands and side, a way to follow him to Easter day, to resurrection, and to the glory of the heavenly Jerusalem whose foundations are the apostles and prophets and whose light is the sacrificial victim. The Lord once lifted high on the cross will stand victorious amid the throng of angels and saints and receive the victor’s acclamation, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!

In union with our Lord’s sacrificial death we are given entrance into glory. By his wounds we are healed, and by the blood and water flowing from his side we are cleansed from every stain. As the Psalmist says, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’

Jesus goes forth to bear willingly in his body the sin of his people; our sin- your sin, my sin. Denials and betrayals will pierce his holy hands and feet and he will be crowned with the world’s disdain for his perfect loveliness. For we who were unkind, the love of Jesus reaches out to us. Arms extended on the cross, the Saviour takes up the whole world and cradles it close to his breast. All our sin is lifted up by him and in him and it is burned away in the fire of his purifying love even as the just judgment of God burns away the life of the immaculate victim who cries out in lonely agony and breathes his last. The holy one goes to meet death and so saves us from death.

We who would go with him find refuge in his wounded side. In the merciful touch of his bloody hands we are held secure. There is enough love in the heart of Jesus to fill the universe and not one sin of ours will slip through his fingers.

Tonight, on this solemn Holy Tuesday, Jesus prepares to go out into the dark, setting his face like a flint, and walking steadily toward betrayal and the cross.

Why, Jesus, why do you go out into the dark, why do you go to suffer, why do you accept this betrayal?!

Because, my child, I love you.


The Arma Christi and the wound in Jesus' side
from a 14th century French breviary

Friday, March 20, 2015

You Are What You Like- a personal photo-essay

The House
The Car
The Teddy

The Carpet
The Church
The Vestment

The Music