Thursday, 8 December 2016

The first two Extra Christmas Services

This was the first of the two anthems we have sung in addition to the ordinary Sunday Eucharist ones.

The Stainer piece is very singable and we did well

The second one was John Rutter's "The Jesus Child"
This is more difficult to get right with unusual rhythms and difficulty (for some of us) managing to fit the words in.

                                                                                 I know this is a lazy way to blog but to be fair it does save a little energy and that must be a good thing surely.

Enjoy !

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The beginning of the annual big sing

I think the moggy on the left is meant to be laughing, but I suspect he is trying to sing with a sore throat.

On Friday I returned to choir practice after my 'bad cold' break thinking all would be well (vocally that is)

About half way through the rehearsal a bout of coughing put an end to my efforts and I simply listened to the alto part for the remainder of the time.

Sometimes people think I'm being a bit precious about avoiding those with coughs and colds, particularly during Lent and Advent.  But, anyone who knows just how much extra singing there is at these two periods in the church calendar will understand what I mean.

From tomorrow we have two services every Sunday and a huge number of extra ones right up until Christmas Day, (the last one).

Much as I love both of these seasons the music is often strange to us, usually a lot more difficult than usual and with far less rehearsal time.

The service tomorrow evening is the Mayor's Carol Service and will have a huge attendance of local dignitaries as well as our own congregation, so we will need to be at our very best,

As the Advent season goes on so the amount of music grows until Christmas Day sees a pale-faced baggy-eyed choir, hopefully still singing like angels.

Or did I dream that?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Mixed Feelings at Advent

This year Advent brings as much sadness as joy for me, and I suspect for many others.

World events and National events, political, financial and Acts of Nature have all played their part in turning the world on its head.

Added to this two of our small church family have suffered the loss of a spouse, and in one case the death of a lodger in really tragic circumstances.

This morning I read a blog from a regular visitor to my site who had not blogged for a few weeks, to discover that her husband had died suddenly two months ago.

She is a quiet reticent  blogger who writes (unlike me) when she has something worth saying, and is clearly in very deep distress.  It is at these times when I would like to be able to simply turn up on a real instead of a cyber doorstep and offer at the very least a hug and a shoulder.

On this occasion I can't even light a candle and offer prayers at St. M's for her since I am out of action due to a beast of a cold.

Obviously I have and will continue to pray for her (and those others I mentioned) at home but feel the need to go somewhere where the very stones are  steeped in the prayers of centuries.

Yet, under all the weight of sadness I can't help feeling the stirring of  (possibly quite unjustified) hope.

May the peace of Advent enter into the darkest of places this and every year.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Enough of the serious stuff - let's have some trivia

On the left are two roses which once graced my garden, top is "Twice in a blue moon", below is
"Just Joey".

Both were very beautiful and had gorgeous perfume, most of the reason I chose them.

All my ;life I have loved roses and started growing them as soon as we moved here and had a (tiny) garden of our own.

Driven by my passion for the wonderful perfume I added more and more roses to my collection, At one time having 28 roses altogether.

Sadly, since John's death and my subsequent neglect of the garden there has been a gradual loss of one after another of my most precious plants.

Some obviously needed pruning feeding and in dry spells watering which they didn't get.

Only the toughest have survived, despite my neglect to remind me of my duty of care to helpless and beautiful living things.

Inevitably I feel both guilt and real sadness at the loss of some of my lovely old friends.

This year, as those who are regular reader's of this blog will know, I have found a gardener, and very good he is too.  So there is hope that when the last of the weed jungle has been cleared, and some pruning and space-making has happened there may be the chance to plant some replacements for my lost treasures.

Each time he spends a couple of hours clearing some space I am mentally filling it with some new roses but it will actually be some time before this actually happens.  In the meantime I have my remaining survivors to add colour and fragrance to my days.

These are just two of the few I have left and lovely as they are cannot begin to fill the gap left by my lost ones.

Sorry about the strange format, my computer skills are not getting any better.

Half my photos seem to be hiding from me currently so have to make do with those prepared to show themselves.

That's quite enough drivel for now.  Back soon/

Thursday, 10 November 2016

What does it take to make a Christian?

The events in America in the past 24 hours have presented me with a dilemma of mammoth proportions.

Shock and disbelief have been quickly replaced with fear and revulsion.

Never an admirer of Hilary Clinton yet the worst I feel for her is a wary, cynical unconvinced acceptance that she would be better than this alternative.

So much bile, vitriol and verbal abuse has been the main feature of both campaigns that it has been increasingly difficult to see the wood for the trees (assuming there is any).

Nevertheless what I have read and heard of Donald Trump has contained no single shred of hope for America's huge mixed race population, no way forward for it's aspiring female young and a very real danger that sensitive delicate negotiations between Europe and America will be trampled underfoot in the power struggle.

Our Rector who is an American has remarked that we must, as Christians keep hope alive and pray that the hectoring rhetoric of the past weeks will be replaced with a more balanced and reasoned approach when the new President takes office.

I find this very hard to do.

When I was baptised (in the 1180's font pictured above) I was made to understand that the past was just that, and that this was the beginning of a new and better life.

Part of that better life was to be the way I behaved to others, not just those I met face-to-face, but all those who impacted on my life in any way.

This I strive to do - though it is very much a work in progress- but the  thing I find most difficult is to restrain my angry reactions and violent verbal criticism of those I perceive to be wrongdoers.

Never known for my tact and diplomacy and far too outspoken for my own good, biting my tongue has become a way of life, but, every now and then I feel the need to rant.

So utterly dismayed am I at the result of this election that I have to remain silent.

Once started I would never be able to finish.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

How long is enough?

This morning we were treated to a very long sermon.

How long is long enough, and how long is too long is a much discussed question in our church 'family'.

The sermon in question was good initially,  it started off very well indeed. but as most of us regard 15 minutes as ideal, 20 minutes acceptable if it is very good.  This one then went on to 25 and then to 30 minutes.

The main point had been made well (and early), it was then repeated at least three times during the following minutes, culminating in a series of meanderings off the original theme and by the  time it drew to a merciful close had half the congregation dozing and the other half tapping their feet.
I am already bracing myself for the barrage  of complaints, moans and groans which will inevitably (and justifiably) come my way tomorrow morning.

Since I am 'in situ' so to speak, it is assumed that I have a private line to the ears of the clergy.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Why is it that some, not all, clergy have no 'off' switch?

Monday, 24 October 2016

Pollyanna is alive and well

For those who read my blog regularly it will come as no surprise to hear that "Pollyanna" moments are rare as hens' teeth, in my world.

Today is an exception.

Early this morning a visitor to St. Mary's remarked that I was very lucky to work in such a wonderful old building.

This made me think for a second that it is all too easy to take for granted what a privilege it is to spend half my waking life in a Grade One listed building with many centuries of history as my daily 'wallpaper'.

Getting home to my nice warm clean house (courtesy of Sue who cleans for me once a week), and looking out of the rear window to see Nick the gardener back bent double, digging out yards of ground elder, I realised just how very fortunate I am.

Only a few months ago I was really despondent at the state of my poor neglected garden, aware that under the weeds brambles and ground-elder a lot of my treasured plants and shrubs were either already dead or dying from lack of attention and sunshine.

For some reason when densely planting my small plot I never once considered the possibility that I would one day grow too old to give it the care and hard work it would need.

Never one to cross my bridges before i come to them, it had been quite easy to put such thoughts into storage, only for them to suddenly emerge and threaten to engulf me.

Now at last there is light and air around my shrubs, bare soil where there was thick green weed cover, and best of  all, space to plant replacements for some of my lost treasures.

Nick has also climbed a ladder and replaced a bulb in my security light which has been absent for about 3 months.

I truly never thought I would be so grateful to other people for restoring my surroundings to their former order and beauty.

Sometimes there are compensations for being old.