11 April 2023

Morning prayers in Easter
with USPG: (3) 11 April 2023

The East Window by Nathaniel Westlake (1888) dominates the chancel and Holy Trinity Church in Old Wolverton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

Easter Day on Sunday (9 April 2023) ushered in all our hopes and joys.

I was expecting a post-stroke consultation at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford later today. However, this has been postponed due to the strike by junior doctors in the NHS.

But, even before this day begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. In these days of Easter Week, I am reflecting each morning in these ways:

1, Short reflections on the stained-glass windows in Holy Trinity Church, Old Wolverton;

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

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The East Window:

Over the past two mornings, I have described six windows in the nave and transepts of Holy Trinity Church, Old Wolverton, by Daniel Bell of Bell and Almond and Henry Holiday of James Powell and Son depicting: the Nativity, Christ in the home of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph; the baptism of Christ by Saint John the Baptist; the Resurrection; the Supper at Emmaus; and Pentecost.

For the rest of this week, I am looking at the East Window in the chancel. This spectacular Rose window by Nathaniel Westlake in 1888, with eight lobes around a large central circle dominates the chancel and the whole church.

This window was the final element in the scheme of decoration in the church carried out from 1870 on under the supervision of the Stony Stratford-born architect Edward Swinfen Harris.

The window provides a magnificent climax to the interior of Holy Trinity Church, unfailingly drawing the attention of worshippers and visitors to the high altar, above which it hovers like a great rising sun.

The window depicts the Crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary and Saint John, Christ with an inner circle depicting the Disciples at the Last Supper, the Passover story, and two other scenes from the Exodus story; the middle circle depicts key six Biblical figures – Amos, Daniel, Job, David, Jeremiah and Isaiah – and two IHS symbols; the outer circle is crowned with the Risen Christ at the top, and a symbol of the Holy Trinity beneath, and contains six Biblical scenes that are Eucharistic allegories: Adam and Eve, Abel’s sacrifice, Noah’s sacrifice, Melchizedek’s sacrifice, Abraham’s sacrifice, and the Tree of Life in the Book of Revelation.

The stained glass artist NHJ Westlake (1833-1921) also completed many of the windows in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford. He worked under William Burges for a while before joining the stained-glass firm of Lavers and Barraud in 1868.

Nathaniel Westlake later became a partner and finally the sole proprietor of Lavers, Barraud & Westlake (1855-1920s), a London-based firm established in 1855 by Nathaniel Wood Lavers (1828-1911). The firm changed its name several times with the arrival and departure of each partner. Francis Philip Barraud (1824-1900), who moved from James Powell and Sons, became a partner in 1858. Nathaniel Westlake joined in 1868, having designed for the firm since 1858.

After Barraud died in 1900, the firm was known as Lavers, Westlake and Co, although Westlake had been the sole proprietor since 1880. After 1909, the company became NHJ Westlake, London, and moved to Maida Vale in 1917, before closing in the 1920s.

The East Window provides a magnificent climax to the interior of Holy Trinity Church in Old Wolverton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

John 20: 11-18 (NRSVA):

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”.’ 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

The East Window depicts the Crucifixion surrounded by Biblical figures and scenes, an image of Christ the King and symbols of the Holy Trinity (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘USPG’s Lent Appeal: supporting young mothers affected By HIV.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by USPG’s Fundraising Manager, Rebecca Allin, who reflected on the 2023 Lent Appeal supporting young mothers affected by HIV, and their children.

The prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (11 April 2023, Tuesday of Easter Week) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for a deepening of our faith. May the light of Easter shine in our hearts, illuminate our minds, and inform our actions.


Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.

Post Communion:

God of Life,
who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son
to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection
have delivered us from the power of our enemy:
grant us so to die daily to sin,
that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The East End and East Window of Holy Trinity Church, Old Wolverton, seen from the church grounds (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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

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