Tag Archives: Compline

As Our Prayers Rise Before You

As our prayers rise before you

The smoke of the burning incense went up with the prayers of God’s people – Revelation 8:4

Prayer is a powerful tool; it’s a tool that enables us to communicate with God either directly or through the advocacy of Christ, more often than not in the power of the Holy Spirit. If you were to dip your hand into your prayer toolbox you should not be surprised that at different times and in different circumstances you would find a diverse range of tools that you could draw out; yet each one of them would fit your purpose.

Throughout my training I have had opportunities to experience different forms of prayer; from the strict, traditional Prayer Book style to free-flowing extemporary prayer. However, the one constant is the discipline of saying Morning, Evening  and Night Prayer (Compline), although I have to confess that  the first of these has been more faithfully undertaken as against the occasional imperceptible mutterings as I drift off to sleep.

Morning Prayer, like most church liturgy changes with the seasons. There are moments throughout the year when certain phrases cause one to catch your breath or make your heart sing; in fact in Epiphany season I been known to break into song when reading the Jubilate – A Song of Joy; but just about all of them are preceded by an opening prayer that sets the right tone for the day ahead:

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.

Silence is kept.

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
Amen

prayersrising2 blog

… so may the light of your presence…

Each morning and evening we are also given one or more of the Psalms to read. However, these too are prayers and throughout the Psalms, David and the other writers poured out their hearts to God in prayer, expressing honest feelings of anguish and desperate pleas for protection. They grieved painful confessions of sin, confidently expressed their hope and trust in God, and joyfully lifted praises to God.

In the same way they enable us to give voice to our feelings, whether of despair when we are at a low point in our lives or sheer exuberance at the scope and majesty of creation. They bring us into contact with the ancient people and places of our history – some long-lost civilizations; but they can also speak into current situations.

I suspect that we all have our favourites but for me Psalm 104 ranks high on my list as it sweeps through the beauty of creation; from the heavens spread out like a curtain to the deeps in which the Leviathan play; the springs and brooks that quench the thirst of the wild donkeys to the cypress trees where storks dwell and the conies and wild goats taking refuge on the stony cliffs. How food is brought forth from the earth with wine to gladden hearts, oil to soothe and bread for strength. A true prayer of thanksgiving!

May God hold you in the palm of his hand

Christ, as a light illume and guide me

Sometimes though prayer can be difficult; when we are tempted to ask, ‘Why me?’ So often we seek responses to our prayers in very exact ways, and when they don’t appear to be answered ‘just so’ we may become disillusioned and distrusting. As part of a sermon recently we were asked to look at it in a slightly different way. Instead of asking. ‘Why has this happened to me?’ try removing the ‘Why’. Suddenly it becomes, ‘This has happened to me.’ Now our prayer can be for strength and guidance on how we are going to deal with the situation and thus be able to move forward, even if we need to take it day by day.

Which leads us to the evening of the day, when with that same one heart and mind that we started the day with we ask that the end of the day may be holy, good and peaceful, as our prayers rise before God; before finally, looking for a quiet night and perfect end to our day in a responsory prayer:

In peace we will lie down and sleep:
for you alone, Lord, make us dwell in safety.
Abide with us, Lord Jesus,
for the night is at hand and the day is now past.
As the night watch looks for the morning,
so do we look for you, O Christ.
The Lord bless us and watch over us;
the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us;
the Lord look kindly on us and give us peace
Amen

 

Heights & Depths blog

And for those who are still out there seeking, this beautiful prayer is taken from Celtic Daily Prayer, Morning Prayer from the Northumbrian Community:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonder He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.

Prayer, as I said at the beginning is as different and individual as we are, and whether our prayers are whispered in the dark or shouted from the rooftops, whether they come in fancy words or stuttering sobs, know that each and every one of them is heard. So never feel that your prayer time is wasted or that you don’t have time to pray. Those few precious moments could make all the difference to your day. Amen

Prayers have been reproduced from Daily Prayer ©The Archbishops’ Council 2005 and Celtic Daily Prayer ©2000, 2005 The Northumbria Community Trust

Fear Of Failure

Compline - A quiet end to the day

Compline – A quiet end to the day

This week I had to do something really frightening. The sort of thing that makes your heart race and your knees tremble. It wasn’t quite the fear I feel when I am at a great height and not in control of my balance; nor was it the fear generated by an unseen but threatening presence – the sort that made me hide behind the sofa whilst watching Dr Who as a child. No, this was the fear of failure.

The cause of this fear? Well, you could say it was self-inflicted; but for various reasons I had offered to be one of the ordinands that ‘sang’ Compline in the college chapel!

Compline is the final service or ‘office’ at the end of the day. This quiet and peaceful worship, stills the mind and allows you to hand over to God all of those things that have happened during the day before retiring for the night. At Cuddesdon, the practice is then to maintain silence until the next morning

The service is taken from the Book of Common Prayer, and can be said, but is more often than not sung. However, this ‘singing’ is done in Plainsong – a sort of medieval chanting style. The notes are written on a stave [a set of five parallel lines on any one or between any adjacent two of which a note is written to indicate its pitch] in the form of dots (see picture below)

Compline is sung in plainsong

Compline is sung in plainsong

And there’s the rub – the fact that I had to google what the name of those lines were called tells you that my musical knowledge is limited. I understand that each note has a different sound depending on where it sits on those lines, I even know the names of some of the notes in those positions; but my problem is that I can not link in my head the name of the note with the sound that is supposed to come out of my mouth! Still, I wanted to give it a go.

I’ve written previously about having the courage to do something in Getting Out Of The Boat but inherent in all of these types of challenges is the fear of failure; that you’ll make a mess of it; that people will laugh; that you’ll feel a fool. So probably best not to do it…

As the time got nearer, the natural introvert in me kept questioning why I had ever thought it was a good idea and what had possessed me to volunteer. However, I knew that I’d been pushing myself lately to do things that stretched me; that exhausted me, but which were beginning to give me more confidence

I have to admit that even after a brief lunch-time rehearsal, right up to the moment that I sat in the chapel itself, that I wanted so much to say ‘I’m sorry, I really can’t do this’, hoping that like Zechariah I’d be struck dumb and have a legitimate excuse to save face; but a quick arrow prayer to say ‘Here goes God’ and the barely audible note hummed by my wonderful fellow ordinand, Jane*, sitting right next to me, found me launching into the first versicle

Did I sing like Katherine Jenkins? – No!

Did I hit a few ‘bum’ notes? – Yes!

Did I worship the Lord in word and song – Yes!

God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control
2 Timothy 1:7

Having done it I can’t say that I won’t feel that nervousness again, but if we attempt to do things in good faith the Holy Spirit  will invariably pitch in there with us [musical pun intended]

So don’t fear failure, and don’t let fear stop you from giving things a go. As it says in one of my favourite prayers:

Lord help me to remember
that nothing is going

to happen today that
you and I together
can’t Handle
Amen

*Huge thanks must go to Jane Winter, whose infinite patience and kind encouragement played a large part in enabling me to not give in to my fears and for the support of all my fellow Ordinands who sang the responses impeccably and who didn’t laugh but gave me silent hugs afterwards!

Holy Hogwarts!… An Induction!

/View, Ripon College, Cuddesdon

Window View, Ripon College, Cuddesdon

Saturday, September the 14th 2013 dawned with a glorious sunrise in what would soon become the 34°C shimmering heat of Seville Airport. The evening would find me in a cooler 11°C, singing a beautiful service of Compline.

What happened inbetween involved a plane, a car, a traffic jam, a large group of strangers and a few reams of paper.

This was to be the official start of my training as an Ordinand and it was exciting – despite even the traffic jam!

The Induction Weekend had arrived….

When I consulted the dictionary it actually gave me five senses in which the verb ‘to induct’ could be used [Other dictionaries are available and may give more]. Did they all apply to this rite of passage?

1. To officially give someone a new job or position

I think we all arrived feeling a little aware that we would no longer be the ‘ordinary’ people who worshipped in our local churches, worked in our everyday jobs, were husbands, wives, mums, dads etc.  We were now to be officially know by the title ‘Ordinand’ – each one of us a candidate for ordination. Even so, I still felt quite ordinary because that future occasion, the Ceremony of Induction, when a new Parish Priest is formally presented to their parish was still just a hazy marker somewhere in the distance.

2. To accept people into an exclusive society or group

walls blogLooking around my surroundings there was a perception that here was a place that had produced and nurtured a great many worthy theologians, with its mellow brick walls and quaint passages and stairways. At the same time there was a real sense of modernity and purpose. It may very well be an academic institution but this was to be no vicar sausage factory. ‘Holy Hogwarts‘, as Ripon College, Cuddesdon is affectionately known, demonstrated almost immediately the inclusivity it prides itself on by welcoming such a diverse group of people who will each be individually transformed over the next few years to serve in the Anglican church.

3. To admit as a member; to officially accept someone into a group

Perhaps this was to be the most important part of the induction process. Having arrived late I was unsure how I would fit in – the introductions and icebreaker moments having passed. Plonking down my overnight bag and then being whisked to see one tutor, then straight into a seminar that had already started, I literally only had time to remember to keep breathing! However, the overwhelming friendship shown during our refreshment break and over the rest of the weekend, was enough to make me feel blessed that here were a group of strangers that over our time together would become good companions on the journey

4. To teach someone about something

This is the scary bit! I was never very good at school… either in temperament or academically. I was intelligent, but never really discovered any reason to demonstrate that intelligence in the form of exam results! Now I am about to undertake a Masters Degree in Ministry. The reams of handouts pointed me towards the different modules or topics I could choose. There were options to learn Greek and Hebrew and opportunities for attending additional lectures. I hope that I am mature enough now to apply myself to this form of learning; but I also believe that alongside all I will be learning about ministry, I will also be learning a lot about myself over the next two years. Our formation will come about not only through our capacity to learn but through our ability to be broken open and fulfil the potential God has set aside for us.

5. To produce an electric current by electrostatic or magnetic processes

The Edward King Chapel, Cuddesdon

The Bishop Edward King Chapel, Cuddesdon

This fifth and final sense then is the most exciting! I am saving the interior shots from inside the Bishop Edward King Chapel, a modern architectural miracle, for another blog; suffice to say our Sunday morning Eucharist was electrified by being in such an innovative and uplifting worship space.

Our small congregation, including family and supporters sang and it was as if they had become a multitude. There was a palpable sense of the Holy Spirit moving among us.

The next stage of the journey has begun…..Alleluia!

For more information about the Bishop Edward King Chapel and why it is up for the RIBA Stirling Prize follow this link