31 July 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (64) 31 July 2023

The three principle figures in the Peel window in Tamworth represent Life (left), Death (right) and Resurrection (centre), with the angelic figures above them representing Faith (left), Hope (right) and Love (centre) (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and the week began with the Eighth Sunday after Trinity yesterday (30 July 2023). The calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (31 July) remembers the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), who died in 1556.

I plan to visit Southwark Cathedral later today. But, before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for prayer, reading and reflection.

This morning I continue my reflections which in recent days have included:

1, Looking at stained glass windows in Saint Editha’s Collegiate Church, Tamworth;

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

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The war memorial window in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth, in memory of the Revd Maurice Berkeley Peel, Vicar of Tamworth in 1915-1917 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The Maurice Peel memorial window, Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth:

Saint Editha’s Church in Tamworth has three interesting war memorials side-by-side in the North Aisle, and the windows have interesting connections with the Pre-Raphaelite windows in Saint George’s Chapel.

The first of these windows, at the west end of the north aisle, is the World War I Memorial Window, dating from 1920, and by Henry George Alexander Holiday (1839-1927), which I described in a posting yesterday.

The second war memorial window, which I am reflecting on this morning, is in memory of the Revd Maurice Berkeley Peel, Vicar of Tamworth in 1915-1917.

This window is dedicated ‘To the Glory of God and in affectionate memory of the Hon Maurice Berkeley Peel, BA, MC, vicar of this parish 1915-1917, who when Chaplain to the Forces in France, was killed whilst tending the wounded, May 1917. This window is placed by his family and the parishioners of Tamworth.’

The Revd Maurice Peel (1873-1917) was the son of Arthur Wellesley Peel (1829-1912), 1st Viscount Peel,Speake of the House of Commons. He was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, and was ordained in 1899.

At the outbreak of World War I, he became a chaplain in France with the 7th Division, and was awarded the Military Cross (MC) in 1915. He was wounded in action but refused medical attention until all the other men had been looked after. He was sent home to England and took a year to recover. In the course of that year was appointed Vicar of Tamworth.

Peel volunteered again in 1917, and was sent to his old battalion. He was killed by a sniper shortly on 14 May 1917 at Bullecourt, while going to rescue a wounded man. The senior chaplain, the Revd Eric Milner-White (later the creator of the Servuce of Nine Lessons and Carols in King’s College Cambridge, and subsequently Dean of York), set out to discover how he had died and where he was buried.

Again, this window is the work of Henry Holiday.

The three principle human figures in the three lights are caught up in the wind and represent Life (left), Death (right) and Resurrection (centre), with angelic figures above them who represent Faith (left), Hope (right) and Love (centre). Each panel has further meanings too.

The figure in the first panel represents ‘Man toiling up the stony road and overcoming obstacles on the way.’ The face of this figure is the face of the Revd Maurice Peel. Here man is toiling up the stony road, overcoming the obstacles in his way. Pleasure on one side and cares and riches on the other side are pulling him by the skirts of his garment.

But above him are the words ‘We walk by Faith not by Sight,’ and Faith guides him with one hand, while the other hand is removing the obstacles. Below him are the words ‘Thou wilt show me the path of life.’

In the third panel, ‘Death,’ Man is going through the deep waters. The words below tell us, ‘Out of the depths have I cried unto thee.’ But through the depths, Hope is guiding him, with a reminder in the words above, ‘The righteous hath Hope in his Death.’

In the centre panel, Man is rising above the clouds that have obscured his vision in the material world, fulfilling the words below him, ‘This mortal must put on immortality.’ Above him, the words promise, ‘Make perfect in Love.’

In the tracery lights are the badge of the regiment to which Peel was attached, his family coat of arms, and the coat of arms of New College, Oxford.

The third war memorial window, at the east end of the north aisle of Saint Editha’s is a World War II Memorial Window from 1949. It is inspired by the themes in the canticle Te Deum, and I hope to look at this window in detail in this prayer diary tomorrow.

The figure in the first panel in the Peel window represents ‘Man toiling up the stony road and overcoming obstacles on the way’ … the face is of the Revd Maurice Peel (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Matthew 13: 31-35 (NRSVA):

31 He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’

33 He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’

34 Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. 35 This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet:

‘I will open my mouth to speak in parables;
I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.’

In the centre panel in the Peel window, Man is rising above the clouds that have obscured his vision in the material world (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘Reflections from the International Consultation.’ This theme was introduced yesterday by the Very Revd Dr Sarah Rowland Jones of the Church in Wales.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (31 July 2023) invites us to reflect on these words:

Help us Lord to speak up for modern-day slavery around the world. To be vigilant and aware in our communities. We pray that through our actions we can help bring an end to human trafficking.


Almighty Lord and everlasting God,
we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern
both our hearts and bodies
in the ways of your laws
and the works of your commandments;
that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever,
we may be preserved in body and soul;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

Strengthen for service, Lord,
the hands that have taken holy things;
may the ears which have heard your word
be deaf to clamour and dispute;
may the tongues which have sung your praise be free from deceit;
may the eyes which have seen the tokens of your love
shine with the light of hope;
and may the bodies which have been fed with your body
be refreshed with the fullness of your life;
glory to you for ever.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

In the third panel in the Peel window, ‘Death,’ Man is going through the deep waters (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

The badge of Peel’s regiment, the Peel family coat of arms, and the coat of arms of New College, Oxford, in the tracery lights (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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