17 October 2023

A ‘Cuddling Couple’
comforting each other
in times of trouble
in Milton Keynes

‘O Wert Thou in The Cauld Blast’ or ‘The Cuddling Couple’ by Ronald Rae at Milton Keynes Central Station (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

I am continuing to enjoy and relish the public sculpture I see in the streets and public places of Milton Keynes. One that is seen by everyone who comes to Milton Keynes is the sculpture by Ronald Rae outside Milton Keynes Central Station and known to local people as ‘The Cuddling Couple.’

The sculptor gave this work a more formal name, ‘O Wert Thou in The Cauld Blast.’ It stands in Station Square and was inspired by one of the last poems by the Scottish poet Robbie Burns.

This sculpture shows a couple comforting each other in times of trouble. It was inspired by one of the last poems by Robbie Burns, written for Jessy Lewars who nursed him during his final illness. A plaque with the words of the poem accompanies the work.

The Scottish sculptor and graphic artist Ronald Rae was born in Ayr in 1946. His works are entirely hand-carved in granite and over the course of 58 years he carved 58 large granite monoliths, many of which are in public and private collections throughout the UK.

Rae’s largest work to date is the 20 tonne ‘Lion of Scotland.’ His sculptures have been exhibited in Milton Keynes (1995-1999), Regent’s Park, London (1999-2002), the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, and Holyrood Park, Edinburgh (2006-2007).

Many of his granite sculptures in public places have Biblical themes, including five sculptures depicting the ‘Tragic Sacrifice of Christ’ in Alloway, ‘Abraham’ at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, the ‘Return of the Prodigal’ in Perth, the ‘Good Samaritan’ in Glenrothes, and his Celtic Cross at Erdington Railway Station, Birmingham. His ‘Fallen Christ’, outside the MacLeod Centre on the island of Iona, is to the memory of Jim Hughes, a member of the Iona Community.

His eight-tonne sculpture ‘Fish’ was installed on the waterfront at Cramond in 2009 after a successful fundraising campaign by the Cramond Community.

The ‘Cuddling Couple’ sculpture was bought by the Commissions for the New Towns after a major exhibition of Rae’s work in Milton Keynes in 1995-1999. It is carved in Scottish Creetown granite, measures 7x8x4 ft and weighs 12 tons.

His other works in Milton Keynes include ‘Hiroshima Departed’ at the Japanese Peace Park, Willen Lake, and ‘War Veteran’ in Campbell Park.

‘O Wert Thou in The Cauld Blast’ by Ronald Rae … inspired by one of the last poems by Robbie Burns (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

O Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast by Robbie Burns

O wert thou in the cauld blast,
On yonder lea, on yonder lea,
My plaidie to the angry airt,
I’d shelter thee, I’d shelter thee;
Or did misfortune’s bitter storms
Around thee blaw, around thee blaw,
They bield should be my bosom.
To share it a’, to share it a’.

‘I’d shelter thee, I’d shelter thee’ … (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (142) 17 October 2023,
Week of Prayer for World Peace (3)

‘But everyone shall sit under their vine and under their fig-tree’ (Micah 4: 4) … a fig tree in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and the week began with the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XIX, 15 October 2023). The Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today remembers Ignatius (ca 107), Bishop of Antioch, Martyr.

Before today begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer and reflection.

The Week of Prayer for World Peace began on Sunday, and so my reflections each morning this week are gathered around this theme in these ways:

1, A reflection on the Week of Prayer for World Peace ;

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

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The Week of Prayer for World Peace began with ‘A Call to Prayer for World Peace’ signed by faith leaders in 1974

A Week of Prayer for World Peace, Day 3:

The International Prayer For Peace:

Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth
Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust
Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe

Day 3, Weapons: For redirection of the resources wasted as a result of the arms trade:

We pray for those who bravely seek justice in the face of repression. May people across the world see ways in which they can help, and act to end weapons sales to their oppressors.

Lord hear us …

We pray for each of the women, children and men who have been killed or injured by weapons sold by companies more concerned with making money than with making peace in our troubled world. May we, who witness on our TV screens glimpses of their suffering, demand that our government curb the arms trade.

Lord hear us …
Spirituality and Practice.com, Multi-faith website

The Beginning and the End are in your hands, O Creator of the Universe. And in our hands you have placed the fate of this planet. We, who are tested by having both creative and destructive power in our free will, turn to you in sober fear and in intoxicating hope. We ask for your guidance and to share in your imagination in our deliberations about the use of nuclear force. Help us to lift the fog of atomic darkness that hovers so pervasively over our Earth, Your Earth, so that soon all eyes may see life magnified by your pure light. Bless all of us who wait today for your Presence and who dedicate ourselves to achieve your intended peace and rightful equilibrium on Earth. In the Name of all that is holy and all that is hoped. Amen.
Swords into Ploughshares

We pray for the people who finance, produce and sell weapons. May your compassion touch their hearts and minds and redirect their skills and talents to life- giving projects.

Lord hear us …

We pray for all those who work for peace.

Lord hear us …
Campaign Against Arms Trade

Nation shall not lift sword against nation, never again shall they train for war.
But everyone shall sit under their vine and under their fig-tree and no one shall terrorise them.
For the mouth of the Lord of Creation has spoken. – Book of Micah, Jewish

‘A Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table’ (Luke 11: 37) … an invitation to dinner in York (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Luke 11: 37-41 (NRSVA):

37 While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. 38 The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.’

‘But everyone shall sit under their vine and under their fig-tree’ (Micah 4: 4) … grapes on the vine at the Hedgehog Vintage Inn in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers: USPG Prayer Diary:

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 ‘Helpline to women in need.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (17 October 2023, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty) invites us to pray in these words:

Let us pray for strength and resolve to eliminate poverty in all its forms around the world.

The Collect:

Feed us, O Lord, with the living bread
and make us drink deep of the cup of salvation
that, following the teaching of your bishop Ignatius
and rejoicing in the faith
with which he embraced a martyr’s death,
we may be nourished for that eternal life
for which he longed;
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 Ignatius:
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.

Yesterday’s Reflection

Continued Tomorrow

The Week of Prayer for World Peace began on Sunday 15 October 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