03 February 2018

Choosing hymns for Sexagesima,
the Second Sunday before Lent

The choir stalls in Lichfield Cathedral after Evensong last week … Archbishop William Maclagan, author of the tune ‘Newington’, was Bishop of Lichfield in 1878-1891 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Tomorrow [4 February 2018] is the Second Sunday before Lent. In the past, this Sunday was known as Sexagesima, one of those odd-sounding Latin names once used in the Book of Common Prayer for the Sundays between Candlemas and Lent: Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima.

The Lectionary adapted for use in the Church of Ireland, provides two alternative sets of readings. One takes up the theme of Creation, while the second continues the Year B cycle of readings in Saint Mark’s Gospel [Hosea 2: 14-20; Psalm 103: 1-13, 22; II Corinthians 3: 1-6; Mark 2: 13-22].

We are continuing the Year B readings in Saint Mark’s Gospel at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick [9.30 a.m.] and at Morning Prayer in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Co Kerry.

Each week, I take time and care in selecting hymns that relate to the readings on a Sunday morning and that relate to the themes I hope to speak about in my sermons.

This task is complicated because, without an organist or a working organ in any of the four churches in this group of parishes, I am also limited by the recorded hymns and music that are available in each church.

I hope to speak tomorrow morning about how, despite our own feelings of rejection and unworthiness, God always seeks to draw us into a new and renewed relationship that is comparable to the loving and covenantal relationship shared and experienced in a good marriage.

Thee hymns I have chosen for tomorrow morning include two hymns with connections with Lichfield and whose authors also have associations with Ireland.

Processional: 660, Thine for ever! God of love. This hymn was written by Mary Fawler Maude, daughter of George Henry Hooper, of Stanmore, Middlesex, and the widow of Canon Joseph Maude, Vicar of Chirk, near Ruabon, a canon of St Asaph’s Cathedral in Wales, and later Vicar of Saint Thomas, Newport on the Isle of Wight.

Her hymns were published in her Twelve Letters on Confirmation (1848), and Memorials of Past Years (1852). Her best-known hymn, is ‘Thine for ever, God of love,’ written in 1847 for a Sunday School class in Newport she was preparing for Confirmation.

The tune for this hymn, ‘Newington,’ was written by William Dalrymple Maclagan (1826-1910), a former Bishop of Lichfield and former Archbishop of York.

In early life, Maclagan spent five years in the Indian army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant. He then studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge (BA 1856, MA 1860). After ordination, he was a curate and rector in a number of parishes, including Saint Mary’s, Newington (1869-1875), which gives its name to this tune, before becoming Bishop of Lichfield (1878-1891).

While he was Bishop of Lichfield he married the Hon Augusta Barrington (1836-1915), the daughter of an Irish peer, William Keppel Barrington (1793-1867), 6th Viscount Barrington, and a direct descendant of the theologian and barrister John Shute Barrington (1678-1734), who was given the titles of Baron Barrington of Newcastle, Co Limerick, and Viscount Barrington of Ardglass, Co Down, in 1720.

As Archbishop of York (1891-1909), Maclagan crowned Queen Alexandra at the coronation of Edward VII. He retired in 1909 and died in 1910.

The grave of Dean Lancelot Addison at the west end of Lichfield Cathedral … his son Joseph Addison wrote the hymn ‘When all thy mercies, O my God’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Gradual: 374, When all thy mercies, O my God: This hymn was written by Joseph Addison (1672-1719), whose father, Lancelot Addison, was Dean of Lichfield. Addison too had Irish connections: he was successively a Commissioner of Appeals, an Under Secretary of State, Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Chief Secretary for Ireland.

Addison is most widely known for his contributions to the Spectator, the Toiler, the Guardian, and the Freeholder, and he contributed many of his hymns to the Spectator. However, his claims to the authorship of some hymns is sometimes questioned.

This morning’s hymn was first published in the Spectator on 9 August 1712, as the conclusion of an essay on ‘Gratitude.’ It has also been ascribed to the Revd Richard Richmond, Rector of Walton-on-the-Ribble, Lancashire.

Addison never intended this poem to become a hymn, but it was included in a collection of hymns by John Wesley in 1737. The tune ‘Contemplation’ is by Canon Frederick A Gore-Ouseley (1825-1889), Professor of Music at Oxford University, Precentor of Hereford Cathedral and friend of the composer John Stainer.

Offertory: 418, Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face: This hymn is by the Revd Horatius Bonar (1808-1889). He was ordained in 1837 for Kelso, and in 1843, he joined the Free Church of Scotland. His reputation as a religious writer was first gained with his Kelso Tracts. His three series of Hymns of Faith and Hope went through several editions.

The setting is Song 24 by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), one of the leading composers in Tudor and Jacobean England.

Post-Communion: 218, And can it be that I should gain: this is one of the best-known and most popular of the many hymns by the Revd Charles Wesley.

The tune ‘Sagina’ by Thomas Campbell was first published in 1825, almost 90 years after Wesley wrote this hymn. The Latin word sagina means nourishment, Sagina was used as spring fodder for fattening lambs in the fields around Rome, which make this tune appropriate both for this time of year and as a Post-Communion hymn.

The castle at Newcastle West, Co Limerick … the Hon Augusta Maclagan was descended from the Barrington family who took one of their titles from Newcastle West (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

A photograph and some reflections
in the ‘Limerick Leader’ this week

Sheahan’s shop and butchers in Askeaton is set to close (Picture: Patrick Comerford) … a photograph in the ‘Limerick Leader’ this week

Patrick Comerford

In this week’s edition of the Limerick Leader [3 February 2018], my photograph of Sheahan’s shop and butchers in Askeaton is used to illustrate Maria Flannery’s news report on the shop’s imminent closure, ‘End of an era: family-run shop to serve last customer’ (p. 7).

Sheahan’s Korner Shop and Butcher, a brightly-coloured shop in West Square, has been running for more than 50 years, but is closing at the end of March .

Tom Aherne’s column, ‘Then & Now’, in the Limerick Leader this week is headed, ‘Page turner is a walk down memory lane’ (p. 17).

He is writing about ABC News 2017, the latest edition of the annual magazine of the Askeaton/Ballysteen Community Council Muintir na Tire.

He writes:

‘There is a three page interview with Canon Patrick Comerford who moved into the Rectory in Askeaton earlier this year. He arrived at the invitation of the Bishop of Limerick Dr Kenneth Kearon. He is also in charge of the neighbouring parishes of Rathkeale, Castletown (Kilcornan) and Kilnaughtin (Tarbert). He has four churches to look after, as well as his other priestly duties.

He is a native of Rathfarnham in Dublin, and a former journalist with the Irish Times in mid-seventies. He was a late vocation, being ordained in 2000 for the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough. He has settled in well in Askeaton, and likes to go for walks by the banks of the Deel and the Shannon Estuary.

‘End of an era’ … a photograph in the ‘Limerick Leader’

An afternoon stroll through
the old market in Spitalfields

The Old Spitalfields Market is one of the great covered markets in London (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Across the street from Christ Church, Spitalfields, and Fournier Street, which I visited earlier this week, Old Spitalfields Market is one of the great covered markets in London.

There has been a market on this site for over 350 years since King Charles I gave a licence for flesh, fowl and roots to be sold on Spittle Fields in 1638. At the time, this was a rural area on the eastern outskirts of London.

The rights to a market seem to have lapsed during the Cromwellian era, but the market was refounded in 1682 by King Charles II in order to feed the burgeoning population of a new suburb.

The market buildings were erected on the rectangular patch of open ground that retained the name of Spittle Fields or Spitalfields. Its boundaries were marked out by Crispin Street to the west, Lamb Street to the north, Red Lion Street, which later became part of Commercial Street, to the east and Paternoster Row, later known as Brushfield Street, to the south.

The existing buildings were built in the 1880s to service a wholesale market, owned by the City of London Corporation.

The eastern end of Spitalfields has retained its old charm in Horner Square and Horner Buildings, which are Grade II listed buildings. These market buildings were designed by George Sherrin for the last private owner of the fruit and vegetable market, Robert Horner, and built in 1885-1893.

Spitalfields Market was extended westward to Steward Street in 1926, destroying the northern extensions of Crispin Street and Gun Street in the process.

The wholesale fruit and vegetable market moved to New Spitalfields Market in Leyton in 1991, and the original site became known as Spitalfields Market.

At the end of the 20th century, there was a dispute between the owners, the City of London Corporation and local residents about the redevelopment of the 1926 market extension at the western end. The Corporation won, and now a Norman Foster-designed office block surrounds the western side of the site, after two-thirds of the historic market were rebuilt.

The original Victorian buildings and the market hall and roof have been restored and Spitalfields is now one of the major markets in London. The market square is a popular fashion, arts and crafts, food and general market, open seven days a week, and it is particularly busy at weekends.

During an afternoon visit to Spitalfields earlier this week, on the very day we had remembered Charles I, not as the benefactor of Spitalifields Market but as king and martyr, two of us strolled through the market, by the stalls, restaurants and shops and through the large indoor arts and crafts market, called the Traders’ Market.

Spitalfields also hosts a street food market, the Startisans Market, on Fridays, a style market on Saturdays, and occasional art markets at weekends.