17 May 2015

A note on this morning’s
service and hymns

The dome inside the Daniel Pantanassa Church with frescoes of the Ascension (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

I am presiding at the Community Eucharist later this morning, marking the end of the residential weekend for the part-time students, and marking the end of the academic year for them.

My colleague, Dr Katie Heffelfinger, is preaching.

Two of these illustrations, and these notes on this morning’s liturgy and hymns appear on the service sheet being handed out this morning:

This morning’s service and hymns:

This is the Seventh Sunday of Easter. We are still in the Easter season, but in that in-between time, between the Ascension (last Thursday) and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Church on the Day of Pentecost (next Sunday) Our hymns at this morning’s Eucharist reflect the yearnings and the hopes of that in-between time, expressed in this morning’s readings.

Processional Hymn: The hymn ‘For all thy saints’ (461)’ was written by the Irish church historian Richard Mant (1776-1848), Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore. In this hymn, he paints an intense image of the Church being inspired by Holy Spirit and is a call to discipleship.

Gloria: ‘Glory in the highest to the God of heaven!’ (693) was written by the Revd Christopher Idle in 1976 for this earlier tune, Cuddesdon, written in 1919 by Canon William H Ferguson, who had been an ordinand at Cuddesdon Theological College, near Oxford.

Gradual: ‘O thou, who at thy Eucharist didst pray’ (438), was written by William Henry Turton (1856-1938) as a hymn praying for Church unity and is based on words in the Farewell Discourse, and so has resonances with our Gospel reading. The tune is by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), who was the Organist of the Chapel Royal and at Westminster Abbey, and one of the greatest English composers of his day.

Offertory: ‘Come down O love divine’ (294) was originally written in Italian in the 14th century by Bianco da Siena. It was first translated into English in 1867 by the Revd Dr Richard Frederick Littledale (1833-1890), a Dublin-born Anglican priest. The tune Down Ampney by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) is named after the Cotswold village in Gloucestershire where he was born and where his father, the Revd Arthur Vaughan Williams, was the vicar.

Communion Hymn: As we receive Holy Communion, we sing ‘Jesus, remember me’ (617), by Jacques Berthier (1923-1994) and the TaizĂ© Community.

Post-Communion Hymn: ‘How shall I sing that majesty’ (468, but including verse 3 in the New English Hymnal, 373), by John Mason. This hymn, written in the late 17th century, contrasts God’s heavenly glory, splendour and majesty with the inadequacies and frailties of humanity. We are using all four verses of this hymn, and not just the three in the Irish Church Hymnal. Kenneth Naylor wrote the tune ‘Coe Fen’ when he was the Music Master (1953-1980) at the Leys School, Cambridge, which is close to Coe Fen. It has since been described as “one of the outstanding hymn tunes of the 20th century.”

Patrick Comerford, 17 May 2015

Salvador Dali: The Ascension (1958)

The Collect of the Day

O God the King of Glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
Mercifully give us faith to know
that, as he promised,
he abides with us on earth to the end of time;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Post-Communion Prayer:

Eternal Giver of love and power,
your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world
to preach the gospel of his kingdom.
Confirm us in this mission,
and help us to live the good news we proclaim;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing:

Christ our exalted King
pour on his abundant gifts
make you faithful and strong to do his will
that you may reign with him in glory:
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

How shall I sing that majesty ... cattle grazing on Coe Fen in the late summer sunshine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

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