11 August 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
74, Emmanuel College, Cambridge

The chapel and cloisters at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, founded in 1584 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. During this time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme this week is seven college chapels in Cambridge, and my photographs this morning (11 August 2021) are from Emmanuel College.

The chapel in Emmanuel College is an early work by Sir Christopher Wren (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Emmanuel College was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer to Elizabeth I, on the site of by the Dominican Friary dissolved 45 years earlier. Mildmay was a Puritan and intended Emmanuel to be a college to train Puritan preachers.

Under his instructions, the chapel of the original Dominican Friary was converted into the college dining hall, while the friars’ dining hall was turned into a Puritan chapel.

The original Puritan character of the college gave way to the liberal views of the Cambridge Platonists and the high churchmanship of William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was instrumental in bringing Christopher Wren to design the new college chapel in 1677. This is one of three buildings in Cambridge designed by Wren.

The former Puritan chapel then became the college library. During the 19th century, Emmanuel, like other Cambridge colleges, expanded in numbers and disciplines, becoming once again a notable centre of theology, and for the first time the home of serious teaching in the natural sciences.

Eventually, the old library outgrew its space and a purpose-built library was built in 1930.

The original glass in the windows were plain, but current windows were added as part of a programme of restoration to mark the tercentenary of Emmanuel College in 1884.

The present stained glass is the work of Heaton, Butler, and Bayne and was completed in 1884 as part of the commemoration of the College’s tercentenary. This partnership also designed stained glass windows in a number of parish churches in the Church of Ireland.

The windows in Emmanuel Chapel were probably designed by Clement John Heaton the younger (1861-1940) but the general scheme of subjects was suggested by the Revd FJA Hort, the Dublin-born New Testament scholar who was a Fellow of Emmanuel College (1872-1892).

Hort was inspired by the windows in the Chapel of Trinity College Cambridge, planned a decade or so earlier by his friends and colleagues there, BF Westcott and JB Lightfoot. The figures are chosen to illustrate the continuity of the history of the Church, and the special part played in it by members of Emmanuel College.

One window is shared as a pair by William Sancroft, Master of Emmanuel, who became Archbishop of Canterbury, and William Bedell (1571-1642), a former fellow of Emmanuel College and one of the Caroline Divines, who later became Provost of the University of Dublin and then Bishop of Kilmore.

Hort’s time at Emmanuel overlapped with Canon Forbes Robinson (1867-1904), who the Chaplain of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1891-1896), and was briefly the curate of All Saints’ Church while his brother, Joseph Armitage Robinson, was the vicar. Armitage Robinson is often seen as the heir to Hort’s mantle. The Robinsons’ father, the Revd George Robinson, was born in Co Monaghan, which brings another interesting Irish link to the life of Cambridge college chapels.

Archbishop William Sancroft of Canterbury (left) and Bishop William Bedell of Kilmore (right) in a window in the chapel of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 18: 15-20 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 15 ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. 18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

Evening lights at the chapel and cloisters of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (11 August 2021) invites us to pray:

We pray for the people of Zambia as they vote in their General Election this week.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Emmanuel College was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay on the site of by the Dominican Friary dissolved 45 years earlier (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Emmanuel College at night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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