26 May 2023

Morning prayers in Easter
with USPG: (48) 26 May 2023

The Ascension depicted in a window in Saint George’s Chapel in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Eastertide and Ascensiontide continue throughout this week, until the Day of Pentecost next Sunday (28 May 2023).

Today, the calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship remembers Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, John Calvin, Reformer, and Saint Philip Neri, founder of the Oratorians and spiritual guide.

Before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for prayer and reflection.

I am reflecting each morning during Ascensiontide in these ways:

1, Looking at a depiction of the Ascension in images or stained glass windows in a church or cathedral I know;

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

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

A four-light window by Florence Camm is one of four four-light windows on the north wall of Saint George’s Chapel in Saint Edtha’s Church, Tamworth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint George’s Chapel, Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth;

I have known Saint Editha’s Church in Tamworth since my teens, first visiting it to see the Comberford Chapel and the Comberford family memorials and monuments.

Saint George’s Chapel is beside the Comberford Chapel and there are four four-light windows on the north wall that are the work of Sir Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris and the Camm family, including a four-light window in this chapel by Florence Camm (1874-1960) that includes a depiction of the Resurrection.

Thomas William Camm (1839-1912) was born in West Bromwich and founded the TW Camm stained studio in Smethwick. After he died, the studio and its work were continued by his sons, Walter Camm (died 1967) and Robert Camm (died 1954), and his daughter Florence (died 1960).

Florence Camm spent all her life in Smethwick, running the Camm stained glass company with her brothers at a time when women artists and designers were struggling to be taken seriously.

She was a stained glass designer, painter and decorative metalworker, and was taught stained glass design by the arts and crafts designer Henry Payne (1868-1940). She exhibited 43 times at the Royal Academy in London and also showed at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and the Royal Scottish Academy. The Camm studio in the High Street, Smethwick, was demolished in the 1980s.

The inscription in this window reads: ‘To the Glory of Almighty God and in loving memory of Esther Dean, who died the 11th day of October 1939, this memorial was placed here by her husband, Herbert Dean.’

The four lights depict the four key events in the life of Christ, with pithy Biblical or credal commentaries:

1, The Incarnation: ‘For unto you is born this day, a saviour which is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2: 11).

2, The Crucifixion: ‘Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by’ (Lamentations 1: 12).

3, The Resurrection: ‘The third day he rose again from the dead.’ This is not a direct scriptural quotation, but a clause taken directly from the Apostles’ Creed.

4, The Ascension: ‘He blessed them. He was parted from them and carried up into heaven’ (Luke 24: 51).

Esther and Herbert Dean lived at Riftswood, Comberford Road, Tamworth, and Herbert Dean donated part of the site for Saint Chad’s Church, Hopwas. He also presented the organ in Saint Chad’s in memory of his first wife Esther in 1940.

The window in memory of Esther Dean depicts the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 21: 15-19 (NRSVA):

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16 A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ 17 He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

The Comberford Chapel in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Today’s prayer:

The theme in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) this week is ‘Accountability and Care.’ USPG’s Research and Learning Advisor, Jo Sadgrove, introduced this theme on Sunday, when she reflected on accountability on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death yesterday (25 May 2023).

The USPG Prayer invites us to pray this morning (Friday 26 May 2023):

Let us pray for all who have lost loved ones through acts of racial violence. May they know comfort and support and may their stories challenge us to fight prejudice and discrimination.


Almighty God,
whose servant Augustine was sent as the apostle
of the English people:
grant that as he laboured in the Spirit
to preach Christ’s gospel in this land,
so all who hear the good news
may strive to make your truth known in all the world;
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.

Post Communion:

God, shepherd of your people,
whose servant Augustine revealed the loving service of Christ
in his ministry as a pastor of your people:
by this eucharist in which we share
awaken within us the love of Christ
and keep us faithful to our Christian calling;
through him who laid down his life for us,
but is alive and reigns with you, now and for ever.

The north side of Saint Editha’s Collegiate Church, Tamworth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

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

Inside Saint Editha’s Collegiate Church, Tamworth, facing the east end (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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