01 August 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (65) 1 August 2023

The focal point of the ‘Te Deum’ window in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth, is the figure of the Risen Christ in Glory, symbolising the Victory over Evil (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and this week began with the Eighth Sunday after Trinity (30 July 2023).

Before this day begins, 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 ‘Te Deum’ window by Gerald Edward Roberts Smith in the north aisle in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The ‘Te Deum (World War II) 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 on Sunday.

The second war memorial window, which I reflected on yesterday, is in memory of the Revd Maurice Berkeley Peel (1873-1917), Vicar of Tamworth in 1915-1917.

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 am looking at this window this morning.

The inscription on the window reads: ‘In honoured memory of the men of Tamworth and District who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War 1939-1945.’

This window is by Gerald Edward Roberts Smith (1883-1959), and cost £1,200. Smith was first an apprentice to Edward Frampton (senior) and joined AK Nicholson in 1916. After Nicholson’s death, Smith took over and replaced much glass in bombed city churches after World War ll.

The focal point of this window is the figure of the Risen Christ in Glory in the centre light, symbolising the Victory over Evil. Christ is shown in the Tree of Life, with its branches spreading into the outer lights, for its leaves are for the healing of the nations. He is encircled with the words, ‘Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ’ (I Corinthians 15: 57).

This window is inspired by the themes in the canticle Te Deum.The figures represented in the window, from the top, are:

1, The Prophets, represented by Isaiah (left) and Saint John the Baptist (right), holding a book with a lamb and a banner proclaiming ‘Ecce Agnus Dei’ (‘Behold the Lamb of God).

2, The Glorious Company of the Apostles, represented by: Saint Peter, holding the keys; Saint John the Evangelist holding his Gospel and the ‘poisoned chalice’ that is associated with his story; and Saint Paul holding a book of his epistles and his symbol of a down-turned sword. The Virgin Mary is next to Saint Peter.

3, The Noble Army of Martyrs, represented by: Saint Stephen (left), the first Christian martyr, in the robes of a deacon; Saint Alban (right), the first English martyr; Saint Editha (left), the saint to whom the church is dedicated; and Saint Chad (right), the founding bishop and patron saint of the Diocese of Lichfield.

4,‘The Holy Church throughout the World doth acknowledge thee,’ and is represented in the base of the window. In the outer lights, it is depicted by representative types of all those who ultimately overcame the evil against which they were fighting.

From left to right we see a miner, a fireman, a Wren, a sailor holding the naval flag, a member of the ATS, and a solider with the Union Jack. In the foreground are an aged woman and child, and immediately above is Saint Nicholas, the patron of sailors and of children. In the right-hand light are policemen, a munition worker, a member of the WRAF, an RAF pilot, a nurse, an army chaplain, and in the foreground a land girl.

Above them is Saint Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of airmen. At the base, in the centre light, is the figure of Saint George holding a scales balancing the souls of the dead with the Crucified Christ and Satan. Below Saint George is the figure of the defeated dragon.

Behind these groups is a symbol of the gateway to the Heavenly City, and beyond this is the Rising Sun of Hope.

In the centre light are the coats of arms of the Province of Canterbury in the Church of England and the Diocese of Lichfield.

The Lamb of God stands on the gateway between two angels. Hanging on the tree above the figure of Christ is the Crusaders’ sword, and on the hilt of this hangs the Crown of Thorns, while the Pelican at the extreme top of the Tree of Life is the symbol of sacrifice and redemption.

The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove surmounts the whole scene in the top tracery.

This window was unveiled and dedicated by Edward Woods, Bishop of Lichfield, 74 years ago, on Sunday 31 July 1949, when 1,000 people were in the church for the service, and 5,000 more people followed the dedication in the churchyard.

‘The Holy Church throughout the World doth acknowledge thee,’ depicted in the base of the window (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Matthew 13: 36-43 (NRSVA):

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ 37 He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!’

‘The Glorious Company of the Apostles’ includes Saint Peter, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Paul and the Virgin Mary; ‘the Noble Army of Martyrs’ and saints include Saint Stephen, Saint Alban, Saint Editha and Saint Chad (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 on Sunday by the Very Revd Dr Sarah Rowland Jones of the Church in Wales.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (1 August 2023) invites us to pray in these words:

We pray today for the survivors of human trafficking. For God’s healing of their bodies, their minds and their spirits. Bring joy and care where there was shame and fear. May all around them keep them safe.


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

Saint Stephen (left), the first Christian martyr; Saint Alban (right), the first English martyr; Saint Editha of Tamworth (left) and Saint Chad of Lichfied (right) (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 Lamb of God stands between two angels (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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