06 October 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (131) 6 October 2023

Saint Michael’s Church, a former parish church in York city centre, dominates the south-west side of Spurriergate (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and the week began with the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XVII, 1 October 2023).

The Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today recalls the life and work of William Tyndale (1536), Translator of the Scriptures and Reformation Martyr. Before today begins, I am taking some time this morning for prayer and reflection.

The Church celebrated Saint Michael and All Angels last Friday (29 September). So my reflections each morning during Michaelmas last week and this week are taking this format:

1, A reflection on a church named after Saint Michael or his depiction in Church Art;

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

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Church Lane runs along one side of Saint Michael’s Church, Spurriergate (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Saint Michael’s Church, Spurriergate, York:

Two of enjoyed last weekend in York, and during those few days one of the churches I looked at was Saint Michael’s Church, Spurriergate, a Grade I listed former parish church on Spurriergate in York.

The church stands at the junction of Spurriergate, Low Ousegate, Church Lane and Nessgate in York city centre. Spurriergate is a short street that follows the line of a Roman road that ran between the walls of Eboracum and the River Ouse. In the mediaeval period, it was regarded as part of Coney Street, sometimes distinguished as Little Coney Street. It was a narrow street, known for its spur makers, and by 1538 this led to it becoming known as ‘Spurriergate.’

The south-west side of the street is dominated by Saint Michael’s Church, and its churchyard once lay on both sides of the street. Two rows of cottages were built along Spurriergate in 1337, on part of the churchyard.

When the width of the street was doubled in 1770, all the buildings on the north-east side of the street were demolished, other than No 1 Spurriergate, and they were replaced by a terrace, that was itself demolished in 1959. The street was widened again in 1841, when the length of Saint Michael's Church was reduced, and all the other buildings were demolished and also replaced by a new terrace.

The street now forms part of the city’s central shopping area. It runs south-east, from the junction of Coney Street and Market Street, to the junction of High Ousegate, Low Ousegate and Nessgate. On the south-west side, there is a snickelway, the mediaeval common lane to the river. Notable buildings on the south-west side of the street include Saint Michael's Church, and the terrace at 4-24 Spurriergate, which is listed.

The north-east side is largely occupied by Spurriergate House. The City of York Council is critical of the building, which it describes as having a façade ‘with no interest or depth,’ while the corner is ‘overly dramatic.’

Saint Michael’s Church dates from the 12th century, with elements from the 14th and 15th centuries. It was reduced in size in 1821 by JB and W Atkinson. The foundation stone of the new wall of the east end was laid by the rector on 15 January 1821, and work was completed on 16 June 1822.

The tower was lowered in 1966-1967. The church was declared redundant and closed in 1984. The building re-opened as a restaurant and café in 1989. The conversion retained a small chapel upstairs that is used occasionally for worship, but it seems today the café is open only sporadically.

The exterior west end of the south wall contains a painted clock face. The clock mechanism inside is inscribed with ‘Reconstructed by GJF Newey in 1896.’ The clock was originally inset to the tower, but after its lowering in 1966, it was moved to its current location.

The church had an organ by Denman and Son which was installed in 1890. It had nine stops on the Swell, seven on the Great, two on the Pedal and cost about £300. It was moved in 1972 to All Saints’ Church, Castleford.

The panelled reredos at the east wall was in form of Palladian arch with fluted Corinthian pilasters, a frieze with shell and palm mouldings carved in relief, and an enriched cornice. It incorporated round-headed boards displaying the Ten Commandments, the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

Other carvings included a dove in glory in the head of central panel, winged cherub heads over flanking panels, and Saint Michael slaying a dragon above, between urns.

The stained glass windows included early 15th century glass, reset in south aisle windows, and depicting Saint John the Baptist, the Nine Orders of Angels, the Tree of Jesse and panels depicting Noah building the Ark and Saint Margaret slaying a dragon.

The name of the church is retained in the name of All Saints Pavement with Saint Crux and Saint Michael Spurriergate, York. All Saints is the Guild Church of the City of York.

Saint Michael Spurriergate became a café in 1989 but seems to open only sporadically (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Luke 10: 13-16 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:} 13 ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But at the judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum,

will you be exalted to heaven?
No, you will be brought down to Hades.

16 ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’

The exterior painted clock face at the west end of the south wall (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 ‘Supporting Justice for Women in Zambia.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (6 October 2023) invites us to pray in these words:

Let us pray for the Church of the Province of Central Africa and its churches across Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Collect:

Lord, give to your people grace to hear and keep your word
that, after the example of your servant William Tyndale,
we may not only profess your gospel
but also be ready to suffer and die for it,
to the honour of your name;
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,
whose Church was strengthened by the blood of your martyr William Tyndale:
so bind us, in life and death, to Christ’s sacrifice
that our lives, broken and offered with his,
may carry his death and proclaim his resurrection in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The weathervane above Saint Michael Spurriergate … the tower was lowered in 1966-1967 (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

Saint Michael Spurriergate was declared redundant and closed in 1984 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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