04 July 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (37) 4 July 2023

Holy Trinity Church, Coventry, is the only complete mediaeval church in Coventry and one of the largest mediaeval parish churches in England (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and the week began with the Fourth Sunday after Trinity (3 July 2023).

I have a medical appointment later today for a check-up on Vitamin B12 deficiency. But, before this becomes a busy day, I am taking some time this morning for prayer, reading and reflection.

Over these weeks after Trinity Sunday, I have been reflecting each morning in these ways:

1, Looking at relevant images or stained glass window in a church, chapel or cathedral I know;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Holy Trinity Church escaped destruction survived the bombing raids on Coventry during World War II (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Holy Trinity Church, Coventry:

Holy Trinity Church is the only complete mediaeval church in Coventry and one of the largest mediaeval parish churches in England. It is also one of the few major buildings in Coventry that escaped destruction during the bombing raids in World War II. But it was not because of a lucky escape … the vicar of Holy Trinity, Canon Graham Clitheroe, and a team of firefighters bravely averted the danger from the falling incendiaries during the heaviest raid on 14 November 1940.

Although the first record of Holy Trinity Church dates from the early 12th century, the story of the church dates back a century earlier, when Earl Leofric of Mercia and his wife Godiva founded a Benedictine priory dedicated to Saint Mary on the site of a Saxon nunnery.

Holy Trinity Church was built of red sandstone between the 1200s and 1400s, replacing a much older chapel built on the site by the monks of Saint Mary’s Priory. The monks of administered half of the growing settlement of Coventry and built a side chapel beside the priory to serve as a place of worship for the Prior’s half of Coventry.

The church first looked like nearby Saint Michael’s. However, several major restorations have seen much of the original brickwork replaced with a paler coloured sandstone.

The spire is 72 metres (237 ft) high and was rebuilt in 1667 to replace the older, original spire that collapsed during a storm in 1665, killing a young boy.

Inside, the stained-glass windows are full of colour and artistry. The east window behind the High Altar, added in 1956 to replace the original window, blown out in World War II. The new east window by Sir Ninian Comper was paid for by couples who had been married in the church, and is known as ‘The Brides’ Window.’

The great west window above the main entrance was designed by Hugh Easton in 1955. The ‘Te Deum Window’ shows Christ in Majesty seated on a rainbow, while all around him are historical figures of the Church. The window replaced a Victorian window destroyed by bombs in 1940.

The choir stalls have 20 late 15th-century misericords or ‘mercy seats,’ made to support clergy who had to stand during long services. Some of the misericord carvings depict heraldic shields, others are carved with foliage. Two misericords show a woodwose, or wild man of the woods, a mythical figure carrying a club and accompanied by a lion; one shows a Green Man with foliage emerging from his mouth; others show a hunting scene, a griffin, and the mythological basilisk.

The pulpit, carved with quatrefoil panels and foliage, was built ca 1470 and is said to be one of the highest in England. Two damaged figures are said to represent Henry VI and Queen Margaret, who made Coventry their base during the Wars of the Roses.

The 15th-century octagonal font is painted with bright colours.

The Marler Chapel or Mercers’ Chapel was added ca 1526-1527.

An extensive restoration and a new west front were completed in 1849 by the architect Richard Charles Hussey (1806-1887). The interior was restored in 1855 by Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878).

The doom painting above the tower arch was painted in 1430s. It was discovered in 1831, covered by a lime wash, and was then restored and varnished over by David Gee. In the years following, the varnish darkened and hid the painting from view again. Conservation and restoration work began in 1995, and the painting was revealed in 2004. I hope to look at this doom painting in detail later this evening.

The Coventry Cross outside the church is currently being renovated.

The Revd Richard Hibbert is the Vicar of Holy Trinity, and the church is open to visitors daily. Sunday Services are: 9:30, informal worship; 11.15, Holy Communion; 5 pm, Choral Evensong; 7 pm, ‘Sundays at Seven.’ Midweek Services are at 12 Noon on Wednesdays.

Inside Holy Trinity Church, Coventry, facing the liturgical east (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Matthew 8: 23-27 (NRSVA):

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ 26 And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. 27 They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’

Hugh Easton’s ‘Te Deum Window’ (1955) shows Christ in Majesty seated on a rainbow, surrounded by historical Church figures (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘FeAST – Fellowship of Anglican Scholars of Theology.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by the Revd Canon Dr Peniel Rajkumar of USPG.

Find out more HERE.

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (4 July 2023) invites us to pray:

Almighty God. You are the source of all wisdom and truth. Nourish us by your Living Word and fill us with your Holy Spirit, so that we may love and serve you faithfully this day, and always.

A Trinitarian symbol (centre) between the coats of arms of Bishops of Lichfield in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)


O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

Eternal God,
comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken,
you have fed us at the table of life and hope:
teach us the ways of gentleness and peace,
that all the world may acknowledge
the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

The crossing in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

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

Holy Trinity Church, Coventry, was restored in 1855 by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1855 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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