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Monday, 30 November 2015

Advent Carol Service: Great O Antiphons

'We are at the beginning of a holy season in which we connect again with our ‘inconsolable longing’, as CS Lewis called it, our yearning for the One who is to come and is also, mysteriously, the One who has come already, come as child, come as fellow-sufferer, come as Saviour, and yet whose coming, already achieved, we hold at bay from ourselves, so that we have to learn afresh each year, even each day, how to let him come to us again.

In the first centuries the Church had a beautiful custom of praying seven great prayers calling afresh on Christ to come, calling him by the mysterious titles he has in Isaiah,' calling to him; O Emmanuel (God With Us) ; O Sapientia (Wisdom); O Radix (Root); O Oriens (Daystar); O Clavis (Key); O Adonai (Great Lord); and O Rex Gentium (Desire of Nations).

'These antiphons were sung before and after the Magnificat at Vespers, according to the Roman use, on the seven days preceding Christmas Eve (17–23 December).They are addressed to God, calling for him to come as teacher and deliverer, with a tapestry of scriptural titles and pictures that describe his saving work in Christ. In the medieval rite of Salisbury Cathedral that was widely followed in England before the Reformation, the antiphons began on 16 December and there was an additional antiphon (‘O Virgin of virgins’) on 23 December; this is reflected in the Calendar of The Book of Common Prayer, where16 December is designated O Sapientia (O Wisdom).'

'Until a few years ago, I didn’t know what these “Great O Antiphons” were; although I was well acquainted with the song (O come, O come Emmanuel) that preserves the tradition and these seven ancient, prophetic names' for the Christ.

The person who made me aware of these Advent Antiphons was the priest-poet Malcolm Guite, who has 'responded to these seven Antiphons with seven sonnets, re-voicing them for our own age now, but preserving the heart of each, which is a prayer for Christ’s Advent for his coming, now in us, and at the end of time, in and for all.'

Click here to read Malcolm Guite's sonnet O Sapientia.

'The last of the Seven Great O Antiphons, which was sung on either side of the Magnificat, is O Emmanuel, O God with us. This is the antiphon from which our lovely Advent hymn takes its name. It was also this final antiphon which revealed the secret message embedded subtly into the whole antiphon sequence. In each of these antiphons we call on Christ to come to us, to come as Light as Key, as King, as God-with-us. Now, singing this Antiphon standing on the brink of Christmas Eve, looking back at the illuminated capital letters for each of the seven titles of Christ we would see an answer to our pleas : ERO CRAS, the latin words meaning ‘Tomorrow I will come!”

O Emmanuel
O Rex
O Oriens

O Clavis
O Radix
O Adonai
O Sapientia'

Malcolm Guite in his final sonnet 'tries to look back across the other titles of Christ, but also to look forward, beyond Christmas, to the new birth for humanity and for the whole cosmos, which is promised in the birth of God in our midst.'

Click here to read Malcolm Guite's sonnet O Emmanuel.


Malcolm Guite - O Sapientia.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Livestreaming & Advent Services


The great team who organised our livestreaming today

Via ChurchLive and periscope, 3,000 people watched two Advent Sunday services at St Martin-in-the-Fields today, as well as the launch of the BBC Radio 4 Christmas Appeal with St Martin-in-the-Fields exhibition. It was a very special opportunity for us to share key moments in the life of our community with an audience around the world and also those who don’t normally go to church.

At our 10.00am Eucharist, the first Advent Candle was lit and our preacher was Revd Dr Sam Wells. At our 5.00pm Advent Carol Service we explored in words and music our theme for Advent, Experiments in Hope, with the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields. The preacher was Revd Rosemary Lain-Priestley. Both services can be viewed by clicking here and here. The Christmas Appeal exhibition launch can be viewed by clicking here.

The Advent Carol Service at St Stephen Walbrook takes place tomorrow at 1.00pm and is a shared service for the Bank Churches Group. The service will be led by Revd Sally Muggeridge and the Choir of St Stephen Walbrook. I will share reflections using Advent sonnets by Malcolm Guite. All are welcome.


Hills of the North, Rejoice.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Meditation: 'Jesus and Rome - Judgement of the Nations'


Outside the gates of Amiens,
in the depths of winter’s bitter cold,
a shivering, half-naked beggar
begs people for pity.
They walk on by on the other side.
The true protagonist of history is the beggar -
Testing and challenging responsiveness,
refining our compassion.
A young tribune rides through the gates
protective armour gleaming,
offensive weapon at his side,
luxurious lined cloak across his shoulders.
From a height, in one quick stroke
he slashes the lovely mantle in two -
the high and mighty considering the lowly -
his death-dealing sword used to give life.
Half to the beggar, clad only in rags,
half retained, sharing not possessing.
At night, in dream, he sees Christ clothed
in the part of his cloak which had covered the beggar.
From Christ begging for our hearts,
to our hearts begging for Christ.
“Here is Martin,” says Christ,
“the Roman soldier who is not baptised;
it is he who has clothed me.”


Beside the Milvian Bridge
alongside the Tiber,
Constantine and his troops
sleep on the eve of battle.
He dreams of a cross;
the sign by which his enemies
will be conquered.
Uncertain, he dreams again
seeing Christ command
a likeness of this sign created.
A spear overlaid with gold,
a transverse bar forming the cross,
a wreath of gold and jewels
holding a Chi-Rho,
an embroidered cloth
interlaced with cloth,
a portrait of Constantine
below the embroidered banner.
With the sign of the cross before,
the army follows on
to victory and Empire,
enemies conquered,
Christendom begun.


Jesus and Pilate
in a clash of cultures
on the pavement
at Herod’s Jerusalem fortress.
Pilate is
angular, aggressive, threatening
the oppressive, controlling
Empire of dominating power,
with its strength in numbers
and weaponry,
which can crucify
but cannot
set free.
Jesus is
curves and crosses,
love and sacrifice,
the kingdom of God;
a kingdom of love,
service and self-sacrifice
birthing men and women
into the freedom
to love one another.
The way of compassion
or the way of domination;
the way of self-sacrifice
or the way of self;
the way of powerlessness
or the way of power;
the way of serving
or the way of grasping;
the kingdom of God
or the empires of Man.


Then the king will say to those at his right hand,
‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world;
for I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him,
‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food,
or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you,
or naked and gave you clothing?
And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’
And the king will answer them,
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these
who are members of my family,
you did it to me.’


Dissident Prophet - Unconditional Love.

St Martin's, Advent, ChurchLive, Twitter & periscope

St Martin-in-the-Fields will broadcast three events live via Periscope on Advent Sunday enabling us to share key moments in the life of our community with an audience around the world and also those who don't normally go to church.

These events are:
To keep up to date with timings of each broadcast, follow @ChurchLive and @smitf_london updates on Twitter.

The Church of England is partnering with Twitter UK to broadcast services across the world using mobile technology.

ChurchLive, was created in conjunction with Twitter UK as a way of showcasing a broad range of live church services to global audiences simply and accessibly through use of a smartphone. ChurchLive could be the first taste of Church for those unfamiliar with church services and an introduction to the best of worship, preaching and prayer. ChurchLive will also enable other people to rediscover church in a new way or for those in other countries to learn more about Church of England services.

Rev Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Archbishops' Council said: "This is a project designed to bring Church of England services from Malton to Miami, Middlesbrough to Milan and Manchester to Mumbai. Those who may not make it to church on a Sunday for all sorts of reasons will have the opportunity to be part of a service. The ability to join in worship shouldn't be restricted to geographical constraint. We know that Periscope users are a global audience and we expect that there will be as many watching services broadcast via Periscope as are physically present at the services themselves."

Earlier this year parishioners at one village church, St Radegund's Church in Grayingham, in the Diocese of Lincoln, were joined by another 350 people around the world for their regular traditional Sunday service after becoming the first to experiment with Periscope.

Julia White from Twitter UK, said: "Periscope gives people and communities the opportunity to live broadcast everything from on-the-spot breaking news through to individual reflections. It's great to see the Church of England taking the best of what they have to offer and using Periscope to show it live across the world."

Tallie Proud, Digital Officer for The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England said: "It could be someone too ill to attend, a family who want to 'attend' even when on holiday or someone who just wants to know what the church is like before they make the sometimes scary step of walking into the building for the first time."

"@ChurchLive" will see a different church in the Church of England broadcast a live weekly service to global audiences via the Periscope app over the course of a year. The first service took place on Sunday 11th October and featured a service with Canon Andrew White, the "Vicar of Baghdad" who spoke at The Point, a Fresh Expressions church in West Sussex.


The Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields - Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Windows on the world (368)

Windemere, 2015


Jimi Hendrix - The Wind Cries Mary.

Stevens, de Waal, Stofer, Baldwin, Britton, Rena & Adams

Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House, currently has two under-stated but wonderful exhibitions of ceramics. Ideas of Order takes a poem by Wallace Stevens’ poem as its starting point in order to juxtapose ‘ideas of order’ in ceramic works by Edmund de Waal and Hans Stofer, while Gordon Baldwin, Alison Britton and Nicholas Rena grapple with ideas of form and function in Traditions of Use:

"‘I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.’

American poet Wallace Stevens’ Anecdote of the Jar begins with an act of deliberate placement which creates new order. ‘Placed’ and out-of-place in the wilderness, the jar of the title domesticates wilderness into a surrounding. Taking Stevens’ poem as its starting point, this display juxtaposes ‘ideas of order’ in ceramic works by makers Edmund de Waal and Hans Stofer.

English novelist AS Byatt recognised affinities between Stevens and Edmund de Waal: ‘The pots give me the same joy Stevens gives me, of recognising the human making of Balzac’s “things”, what Stevens also calls a “blessed rage for order”’. De Waal’s delicate groups of vessels and the cultivated disorder of Stofer’s bowls evoke and question ideas of aesthetic, domestic and social order - and the hierarchies of value that underpin them. The conversation between pieces is shadowed by Blackwell’s history as a house where domestic order and routine labour were inextricable."

Traditions of Use "showcases the work of three leading British ceramic artists who all grapple with ideas of form and function within the wider debate of where contemporary craft stands in today’s art world.

Breaking with the tradition that in ceramics form is all that matters, Gordon Baldwin creates what he terms ‘vessels’ which challenge the concepts of ‘fine art’ and ‘craft.’ So too does renowned ceramicist, writer and critic, Alison Britton, who looks at the connections and disjunctions with ceramic history, painting and sculpture. Nicholas Rena’s sculptural ceramics engage with ideas of containment and emptiness while alluding ‘to traditions of use that are almost lost.’"

The Lakeland Arts Trust also shows work at Blackwell, including earthenware by sculptor and poet Anna Adams, wife of the painter Norman Adams. Lakeland Arts is one of the most significant arts and heritage organisations in the North of England with a national and international reputation for the quality of its historic buildings, museum and gallery collections and programming. It has a diverse portfolio of attractions: Blackwell, Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry in Kendal and the new Windermere Jetty in Bowness.


Wallace Stevens - The Idea Of Order.

Update: Sophia Hub Redbridge

Ros Southern writes:

'Hi there,

Here's a quick roundup of news and events in the business and community world of Redbridge :)

We have another fabulous Timebank skills swap on Mon 7 December 12.30 - see what's on offer!

Sophia Hubs is co-hosting the Big Business Networking Event on Wednesday at Enterprise Desk - 40 booked already! Info here

You are invited to the Chamber Christmas slap up dinner! Info here I'm going

There's a lot of interest in our first meeting of Redbridge upcyclers this week, to see if we can get some green enterprises going. info here.

As it's Black Friday and Redbridge really needs local trading with independent companies, we've found 3 Christmas markets coming up. There's no central info point for our markets and bazaars so we may try to do this. If you know of more please tell me and I'll add and tweet Info here

Want to see who's been on our Sophia course and their ideas? info here

Thanks to Celestine Ekpenyong for his valuable input and contribution at entrepreneur's club this week. info here

As I keep saying I am happy to let you write on this blog with your news, info here

It's the business show next Thurs and Friday, info here

And LAST BUT NOT LEAST - We have a FABULOUS and INTERESTING White paper business discussion on different ways of doing the economy. In partnership with Enterprise Desk. Weds 16 Sept. Click here for info.

I regularly update our Help & Support page on the website

Oh, and please find more people to sign up to this e-news!

Have a great weekend,

Coordinator, Sophia Hubs Redbridge
E: M 07707 460309 / 0208 590 2568 (answer phone)'


Robert Randolph & the Family Band - Goin' In The Right Direction.

The Lake District: Windemere

A short break in the Lake District began at Broadoaks Country House Hotel 'where the sound of rushing water from the nearby river on its way to Windermere' gives way to the 'secluded, warm and inviting' interior where there are 'ingle nook fireplaces and period furniture.' The hotel is traditionally constructed from Lake District stone and slate with a 'sweeping driveway' and 'seven acres of landscaped grounds' with views across to Windermere and the Langdale Pikes.

'Bowness-on-Windermere is a sprawling tourist town on the shore of Windermere, about halfway along the 12 mile length of the lake between Waterhead at the North end, and Lakeside at the South end. It developed after the opening of the railway line from Oxenholme and Kendal to Windermere in 1847. Bowness was the nearest accessible point on the lake. Now Cumbria’s most popular destination, the town is busy for much of the year. People come to enjoy the lake for sailing and watersports, or just to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the area and the town’s delightful setting.'

'Situated in the very heart of Bowness on Windermere, the Royal Oak, a small family run Inn, is literally a stones throw from the Bowness bay piers, Lake Windermere and only a few minutes walk from the many traditional craft and gift shops.'

'When the architect MH Baillie Scott built a holiday home overlooking Windermere for his client Sir Edward Holt he created Blackwell, a masterpiece of twentieth-century design; a perfect example of the Arts & Crafts Movement.' Baillie Scott said, “On crossing this threshhold, we pass into a charmed territory where everything shall be in harmony.”

'Blackwell retains many of its original decorative features, including a rare hessian wall-hanging in the Dining Room, leaf-shaped door handles, curious window catches, spectacular plasterwork, stained glass and carved wooden panelling by Simpsons of Kendal. The rooms contain furniture and objects by many of the leading Arts & Crafts designers and studios - metalwork by WAS Benson, ceramics by Pilkingtons and Ruskin Pottery and furniture by Morris & Co., Stanley Webb Davies, Ernest Gimson and Baillie Scott himself.

Recent acquisitions of furniture by Baillie Scott are on display, including an oak and ebony inlaid barrel chair with slatted sides, sideboard and a set of dining chairs. Blackwell offers more than most historic houses with several rooms displaying historical exhibitions that explore different aspects of the Arts & Crafts Movement.'

Work by John Ruskin, Eric Gill and Paul Cezanne can also be seen.


Christina Rossetti - When I Am Dead, My Dearest.