The Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (13 October 2022) remembers Edward the Confessor, King of England, 1066, with a Lesser Festival.
Before today gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.
During the last two weeks, I was reflecting each morning on a church, chapel, or place of worship in York, where I stayed last month. This week I am reflecting on the windows in one of those churches: All Saints’ Church, North Street, York.
In my prayer diary this week I am reflecting in these ways:
1, One of the readings for the morning;
2, A reflection on the windows in All Saints’ Church, North Street, York;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’
King Edward the Confessor was born in 1002, the son of the English King Ethelred and his Norman wife Emma. Living in exile during the Danish supremacy, he was invited back to England in 1042 to become king, and was heartily welcomed as a descendant of the old royal line. However, his reign was a balancing act between the influences of stronger characters at his court or overseas, sustained by Edward’s diplomacy and determination. Edward’s reputation for sanctity was built on his personal, more than his political, qualities. He was concerned to maintain peace and justice in his realm, to avoid foreign wars, and to put his faith into practice. He was generous to the poor, hospitable to strangers, but no mere pietist. Having vowed as a young man to go on pilgrimage to Rome should his family fortunes ever be restored, he later felt it irresponsible to leave his kingdom, and was permitted instead to found or endow a monastery dedicated to Saint Peter. Edward chose the abbey on Thorney Island, by the river Thames, thus beginning the royal patronage of Westminster Abbey. He died on 5 January 1066 and his remains were translated to a new shrine in the Abbey on this day in 1162.
Luke 11:47-54 (NRSVA):
47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. 48 So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute”, 50 so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.’
53 When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile towards him and to cross-examine him about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
The Lady Chapel East Window, and the The Great East Window, All Saints Church, York:
All Saints’ Church, North Street, York, which I described in this prayer diary recently (28 September 2022), is said to be ‘York’s finest mediaeval church.’ It dates from the 11th century and stands near the River Ouse.
The church has an important collection of mediaeval stained glass, including ‘The Pricke of Conscience’ window, depicting the 15 signs of the End of the World; the window depicting the Corporal Works of Mercy (see Matthew 25: 31ff); the Great East Window, originally in the north wall, and the Lady Chapel Window, which I am looking at today (13 October 2022); the Saint James the Great Window, which I am looking at tomorrow (14 October 2022); the Saint Thomas Window; and the Coats-of-Arms window.
All Saints’ Church, on North Street, York, is known particularly for two early 15th century windows: the window depicting ‘The Pricke Of Conscience’ or ‘The Fifteen Signs of Doom’ window, which I was looking at earlier this week (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday); and the window depicting the ‘Corporal Works of Mercy’ (see Matthew 25: 35-46), which I looking at yesterday.
This morning, I am reflecting on the 14th century Lady Chapel East Window and the Great East Window.
The Lady Chapel East Window:
The East Window in the Lady Chapel dates from ca 1330, and is the earliest window in All Saints’ Church. The canopies at the top of each light are clearly less assured than those of later windows in the church.
At one point, this window was above the high altar. The central figure of the crucified Christ would have been seen behind the altar, in place of the more modern altar crucifix. These were unknown in mediaeval England; instead, there was normally a crucifixion scene in stained glass in the window behind an altar. Each of the three east-end altars in this church has a crucifix in stained glass behind.
The six main panels in the this window tell the story of salvation. Appropriately for the Lady Chapel, they show Our Lady present in every scene, except the Resurrection where, according to Saint Matthew’s Gospel nobody was present other than the sleeping soldiers.
Many individual pieces of glass in a window of this antiquity have been broken and been renewed down the centuries. The face of the risen Christ, bottom right, is a clear example of a modern piece.
Tracery Lights: The ‘tracery lights’ are small openings in the stonework above the main window. Most of the glass in the tracery lights in this window is not mediaeval.
Left Light, Lower, The Annunciation: The Archangel Gabriel tells Our Lady she is to be the mother of God’s Son. The angel holds a scroll with the words Ave Maria gratia plena (‘Hail Mary full of grace,’ Luke 1: 28). Note how the Latin words on the scroll are abbreviated.
The Centre Light, Lower, The Nativity: At the birth of Jesus, Our Lady holds the infant Jesus, Saint Joseph is beside her, and above them are the heads of an ox and an ass.
The Right Light, Lower, The Resurrection: Christ is shown rising from the tomb. At one side is an angel in white, and below are three soldiers, the centre one frightened and awake, the others are asleep.
Left Light, Upper, The Adoration of the Magi: The three kings offer their gifts to the Infant Christ.
Centre Light, Upper, The Crucifixion: The crucified Christ with, on either side, Our Lady (left) and Saint John (right).
Right Light, Upper, The Coronation of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven: in mediaeval thought, this was regarded as a sign that the redemption of humanity by God in Christ is completed.
The Great East Window:
The Great East Window in All Saints’ Church was originally in the north wall. Like ‘The Pricke of Conscience’ window, it was given by the Blackburn family. Family members are seen kneeling at the bottom of the window: Nicholas snr on the right with his wife Margaret, and their son Nicholas jnr on the left with his wife Margaret.
In between them, at the centre bottom, is a striking representation of The Holy Trinity. The Father is seated on his throne, holding the Son on the cross before him, and the dove of the Holy Spirit is between their two heads.
The main figures under exuberant canopies are: Saint John the Baptist (left), Saint Anne (centre), teaching her daughter, the Virgin Mary, to read and to pray: the words are the beginning of Psalm 142, Domine exaudi orationem meam auribus percipe obsecrationem meam (‘Hear my prayer O Lord; give ear to my supplication’); Saint Christopher (right), carrying the Christ Child Jesus on his shoulders.
It is striking that all the women in this window are reading. In the main panel, Our Lady and Saint Anne read from Psalm 142. At the lower left, Margaret Blackburn is reading the beginning of Psalm 6, Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me, neque in ira tua (‘O Lord rebuke me not in thine indignation, neither [chastise me] in thy displeasure’); on the right, Margaret Blackburn snr reads from Psalm 50, Domine labia mea aperies et os meum (‘Thou shalt open my lips O Lord, and my mouth [shall show thy praise]’).
Today’s Prayer (Thursday 13 October 2022):
who set your servant Edward
upon the throne of an earthly kingdom
and inspired him with zeal for the kingdom of heaven:
grant that we may so confess the faith of Christ
by word and deed,
that we may, with all your saints, inherit your eternal glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Post Communion Prayer:
God our redeemer,
who inspired Edward to witness to your love
and to work for the coming of your kingdom:
may we, who in this sacrament share the bread of heaven,
be fired by your Spirit to proclaim the gospel in our daily living
and never to rest content until your kingdom come,
on earth as it is in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Day of the Girl Child.’ This theme is introduced this morning by the Revd Benjamin Inbaraj, Director of the CSI-SEVA department, which runs the Church of South India’s social ministries.
The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:
We pray for the social ministries of the Church of South India, which serves the diverse needs of marginalised communities across the region.
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
‘Church of All Saints with Anchorage Attached, Historic England List Entry 1257067,
‘The Stained Glass of All Saints’, All Saint Church,