05 October 2014

‘Don’t wait for the storm to pass,
Learn to dance in the rain’

‘Lord of beauty, thine the splendour, shown in earth and sky and sea ... Lord of wisdom, whom obeying, mighty waters ebb and flow’ … autumn evening lights at Skerries Harbour this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Patrick Comerford

The heavy rains on Friday and Saturday, and the grey clouds that covered the east coast throughout today has confirmed that the prolonged extension of late summer has come to an end and that we are into the advanced days of autumn.

There were signs of autumn everywhere today, from the Harvest decorations at the base of the pulpit and at the West Door in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this morning to the pumpkins on display in an organic grocer’s shop in Skerries this afternoon.

Canon David Moynan was the preacher at the Harvest Thanksgiving in the cathedral this morning, the Revd Garth Bunting presided at the Eucharist, and I was deacon, reading the Gospel (Matthew 21: 33-46) and assisting at the administration of Holy Communion.

In Christ Church Cathedral before the Cathedral Eucharist and Thanksgiving for Harvest this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

The Mass setting, sung by the Cathedral Choir, was Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo written in 1775 by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) for the Barmherzige Brüder in Kismarton, Hungary (now Eisenstadt in Austria), where Saint John of God was the patron saint. It is sometimes known as the Kleine Orgelmesse or “Little Organ Mass” because of the extensive organ solo between Sanctus and Benedictus.

The solo Benedictus was particularly moving this morning. It is the high point of the Mass and in short contrast to the way other texts are treated by Haydn. Being a missa brevis, several parts of the text are set simultaneously in different voices. When this Mass was sung in Salzburg, Haydn’s textual compression was unacceptable, and so his brother Michael Haydn expanded Gloria.

As you might expect, we sang a number of traditional harvest hymns, including Henry Alford’s ‘Come, ye thankful people, come,’ Cyril Alington’s ‘Lord of beauty, thine the splendour,’ and ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ by Matthias Claudius and Jane M. Campbell.

Two ice creams drizzled with double espressos at ‘Storm in a Teacup’ in Skerries this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Later, four of us had lunch in the Larder in Parliament Street, before two of us headed on out to Skerries for a walk around the Harbour, ice cream in ‘Storm in a Teacup,’ and a walk along the beach.

It was almost three months since I had been in Skerries. This afternoon, there was an exceptionally low tide in the Harbour, and as I looked out at the yachts and boats moored in the low tide and on the sandbanks I was reminded of words from Cyril Alington in our Offertory Hymn this morning:

Lord of beauty, thine the splendour,
Shown in earth and sky and sea ...

Lord of wisdom, whom obeying,
Mighty waters ebb and flow …

At ‘Storm in a Teacup,’ we had too ice creams, drizzled with double espressos and cinnamon, and sat outside in the wind looking at the sea below the Lifeboat station. And I thought once again of the words from Henry Alford that we sang in the processional hymn:

All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.

Advice for the approaching autumn and winter weather in ‘Storm in a Teacup’ in Skerries (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Inside, in ‘Storm in a Teacup,’ among the humorous hand-painted signs, one reads:

Don’t wait for the storm to pass
Learn to dance in the rain

Walking on the sandy beach at low tide in Skerries this afternoon (Potograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

But the rain held off for the rest of the afternoon, and taking the opportunity provided by the low tide, we had a long walk on the long soft sand on the South Beach, before returning for a stroll through the streets of Skerries and back to the Harbour and Red Island.

On the way back through Rush and Lusk, we stopped to look at the Rush and Lusk Railway Station, which is half-way between both towns and is a hidden treasure of Victorian architecture.

The Victorian railway station between Rush and Lusk (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

The station opened on 25 May 1844. But the building itself is a detached five-bay single-storey railway station, built ca1850, with a gabled entrance bay and a three-bay single-storey extension to the left-hand side. The timber canopies with decorative eaves are supported by red brick walls to both platforms, and these are linked by a cast-iron pedestrian bridge.

The promised or threatened rains held off all the way back to south Dublin. As autumn moves towards winter, I must take to heart those signs in ‘Storm in a Teacup’ and learn to enjoy all seasons … and even to dance in the rain.

Meanwhile, I am back in Christ Church Cathedral next Sunday [12 October 2014] as the preacher at the Cathedral Eucharist and the canon-in-residence.

Preparing for Hallowe’en … pumpkins in a greengrocer’s in Skerries this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

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