14 November 2022

Praying in Ordinary Time with USPG :
Monday 14 November 2022

The first window at the east end of the south wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford, is one of a series of windows by NHJ Westlake of Lavers & Westlake (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Today, the Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship commemorates Samuel Seabury, first Anglican Bishop in North America, 1796.

Samuel Seabury (1729-1796) was born in Connecticut in 1729 and, after graduating from Yale, was ordained priest in England and assigned by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG, now USPG) to a church in New Brunswick, in New Jersey.

During the American War of Independence, he remained loyal to the Crown, serving as a chaplain in the British army. After the War, at a secret meeting of the clergy in Connecticut, Samuel was chosen to seek consecration as bishop. But, after a year of fruitless negotiation with the Church of England, he was ordained bishop by the nonjuring bishops in the Scottish Episcopal Church on this day in 1784.

Returning to America, he held his first Convention in Connecticut the following August and the first General Convention of the American Episcopal Church in 1789. There, they adopted a version of the Scottish Eucharistic rite and a similar name to the Church which had proved itself their friend. Bishop Samuel Seabury died on 25 February 1796.

Before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

Throughout this week, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, One of the readings for the morning;

2, A reflection on the stained glass windows in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

The Lamb on the Throne depicted in the first window at the east end of the south wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Luke 18: 35-43 (NRSVA):

35 As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ 38 Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 39 Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 40 Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, 41 ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me see again.’ 42 Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.’ 43 Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

The Crucifixion depicted in the first window at the east end of the south wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Stained-glass windows in Stony Stratford, 2:

Throughout this week, I am reflecting each morning on the stained glass windows in the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire.

The 12 windows in Saint Mary and Saint Giles include a two-light window at the west end by Charles Eamer Kempe, depicting three archangels; a set of three windows in the south gallery, among them important work by John Groome Howe of the Hardman studios; two separate windows in the south gallery that appear to include fragments from an earlier window; and six windows – three below the gallery on the south wall and three below the gallery on the north wall – by NHJ Westlake of Lavers & Westlake.

The first window at the east end of the South Wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church below the gallery is of three eyelets and depicts two angels worshipping the Lamb on the Throne, Agnus Dei, an image from the Book of Revelation; the Crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary and Saint John keeping watch with the Crucified Christ as the stand at the foot of the cross; and Moses with Aaron and Hur holding up his arms.

In each of these three panels, the central figure – the Lamb on the Throne, the Crucified Christ and the ageing Moses – have two supporting figures: two angels, the Virgin Mary nd Saint John, and Aaron and Hur.

During Joshua’s battle with Amalek at Rephidim, the Book Exodus recalls, ‘Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword’ (Exodus 17: 12-13).

This window is by NHJ Westlake of Lavers & Westlake, and is dated 1889, and was probably commissioned by the Stony Stratford architect Edward Swinfen Harris (1841-1924), whose works, mainly in the Arts and Crafts style, can be seen throughout the town.

The artist Nathaniel Hubert John Westlake (1833-1921) was born in Romsey in 1833. He worked under William Burges for a while before joining the London-based stained-glass firm of Lavers and Barraud in 1868, having designed for the firm since 1858. The firm was first established by Nathaniel Wood Lavers (1828-1911) in 1855.

Westlake’s knowledge of mediaeval art, Pre-Raphaelite style and simplification of previously over-elaborate drawing brought the firm fame and success in the 1860s. A leading designer of the Gothic Revival movement, his works include ‘The Vision of Beatrice’ (1864), commissioned for an exhibition of stained glass at the South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Westlake later became a partner and eventually, in 1880, the sole proprietor of Lavers, Barraud & Westlake.

Westlake designed windows in in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, and Worcester and Peterborough Cathedrals, and in other prominent churches, including Saint Martin le Grand, York. He also designed windows in the college chapel at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and the ceiling and Stations of the Cross in the college chapel.

As the Aesthetic movement gathered momentum, the colour of his stained glass became diluted.

Between 1881 and 1894, Westlake published four volumes, A History of Design in Painted Glass. He also contributed an article on mosaics to the Catholic Encyclopaedia.

Lavers & Westlake were commissioned to reglaze two central lights in the great hall windows at Mary Datchelor Girls’ School, Camberwell, in 1896. The subjects were ‘Lady Jane Grey discourses with Roger Ascham’ and ‘By Industry and Perseverance,’ symbolising the importance of female endeavour in higher education. Other windows included ‘On the way to Chapel,’ ‘Physical Exercise,’ ‘The Kindergarten’ and ‘The Classroom.’ The windows were removed from the school in 2010 after it was converted into a series of apartments.

The firm changed its name several times with the arrival and departure of each partner. Francis Barraud (1824-1900) had joined the practice from James Powell & Sons. When he died in 1900, the firm was known as Lavers, Westlake and Co, although Westlake had been the sole proprietor since 1880.

The company became NHJ Westlake after 1909, but it closed after Westlake died in Brighton on 8 May 1921.

Moses with Aaron and Hur, depicted in the first window at the east end of the south wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The Collect:

Heavenly Father,
whose blessed Son was revealed
to destroy the works of the devil
and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life:
grant that we, having this hope,
may purify ourselves even as he is pure;
that when he shall appear in power and great glory
we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom;
where he is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post Communion Prayer:

Gracious Lord,
in this holy sacrament
you give substance to our hope:
bring us at the last
to that fullness of life for which we long;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Additional Collect

Heavenly Lord,
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Living Together in Peace.’ This theme was introduced yesterday, describing the work of PROCMURA, the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa. USPG has provided an annual grant to PROCMURA since it started in 1959.

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

Let us pray for PROCMURA and its mission to build bridges between Christians and Muslims in Africa.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles, on the corner of High Street and Church Street, Stony Stratford, at night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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

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