Wednesday 30 November 2022

The Book of Common Prayer : Prayers for the Lighting of the Advent Candles

We are delighted to share with you these previously-lost pages of Cranmer's BCP. It is believed they were ripped out of the second edition by Henry VIII, angry that it did not use red candles.


Upon the Sundays in Advent the Advent Candles are to be lit as follows. On each Sunday shall be lit by the Ordinary if he is present, or the curate of the parish or, if there are children present, the one least likely to set themselves on fire - firstly all the candles that have been lit in previous weeks, and then the candle for the week. The priest saying the prayers appropriate to the Sunday and the people saying after him.


Almighty God, who knoweth how grievously we have fallen in sin and walk in darkness, bless the lighting of this first, purple, candle, which shineth as a reminder of God's holy people who walked in darkness yet saw afar off what we  - miserable worms that we are - have seen: the Gospel of light.* And let the lighting of this candle, miserably as it is done, be a blessing unto us.


Most forgiving God, who knoweth that we are no less sinful than we were last week, nevertheless we beseech thee to  bless the lighting of this second, purple, candle, which shineth as a reminder of God's holy Prophets who saw the hope of the salvation to be brought through Jesus and humbly wrote thy words in their scrolls to show us our utter sinfulness and disgrace. How can the lighting of  an humble candle save us from thy deserved wrath? Yet accept this second light, weak and feeble as it be, and let it burn to thy glory.


Most gracious God, who knoweth how terribly we have failed thee since last week, there being no health in us, even after two candles: send thy blessing unto us as we light this third, rose, candle. Knowing that there are some who are so fallen that they believe that we should light instead it next week for Mary, because she is a girl. Forgive thou them that call this candle "pink" instead of rose. And in thy mercy give us strength to hear yet again the story of why it's called "Gaudete" Sunday and the Steeleye Span mention.


Most merciful God, remembering how unacceptable in thy sight our candle-lighting must appear in comparison to thy inestimable glory, even on this fourth attempt, bless the little flame that we here kindle in blessed memory of the mother of our Saviour, in thy mercy overlooking that we lighted another rose one for her after all so little Denis wouldn't cry, and let its remembrance keep us from the much larger flames of Hell.


Most merciful God, as we light the white candle on this most holy day, and wonder whether we should light it before or after the replacement purple candle because the first one has burned all the way out, forgive us our manifest sins which we wholly repent in tears and ashes, begging Thy mercy for our heinous sinfulness. And a Happy Christmas to one and all.

*If the First Sunday falls in November, he shall add

And let those who are confused why we are lighting the candle in November because they think Advent starts on the First Day of December be led into the truth.

Monday 28 November 2022

An Authentic Celtic Advent

 There's a lot of Anglican Twitter Discourse, in these dying days of Anglicanism. And dying days of Twitter. And dying days of discourse. Anyway. There is a lot of talk of people jumping the gun on Christmas, lighting things up too early, having Black Friday Communions, and so on.

So we thought we'd get back to basics. Do something lovely and traditonal. Find the roots of the faith in these islands. A Proper Celtic Advent.

Two days in, and it's been mixed. There was a nice bit - basically before I got up on Sunday morning. Then two days of eating nothing but soggy oatmeal has certainly got us into a mystical state of mind.

But the Traditional Advent Sunday Worship was controversial. Three hours of the Beaker Folk standing up to their necks in the Duck Pond wearing hair shirts, in the dark, while Hnaef screamed at them that they were sinners in Latin.

I should make that clear. Hnaef was screaming in Latin.  They weren's sinning in Latin. Apart from maybe a few peccadillos. 

So I'm glad we've done Advent properly. And just in time. Father Santa's Festival of Tea Lights is in the Moot House from tomorrow. 4 weeks of twinkly loveliness, the smell of mince pies and mulled wine. I can't wait.

I do feel like we've earned the happy bits now though. Having done Advent properly.

Monday 21 November 2022

Calendar Clashes are Coming Home

The Guardian reports that the Church of England has noticed that the World Cup Final clashes with Carol Service Sunday (as the 4th in Advent should really be titled).

I'll be honest - this is a bit late to notice. All over the country, parish mags are already being printed on laser printers, linotypes, banda machines and carved out potatoes. The copy deadlines have gone, the harvest is done, and we have not been saved from this calendar clash.

Well, obviously, the Beaker Folk have.We noticed months ago.

That's why on the Saturday before, we will be holding our Night of 6,500 tea lights, one for each migrant worker who died building the stadiums in Qatar. Sunday 18th is being officially renamed Rainbow Day. We are holding our Service of Staring at 4.45 pm that day - ie just before the end of normal time in the final. Anyone arriving late will be stared at. In the case of extra time, we will stare at them during Coffee Time. And we have the special Qatar World Cup Advent Calendar. Each door you open constains the message "Don't watch the World Cup".

Meanwhile the Church Support Hub has a number of suggestions of how Christians can integrate trying to pretend they're doing Christian things with the secular world watching football. These include watching the game, showing the game (if the church has a TV licence, presumably), a Football Nativity, or having a Sports Quiz and Carols at an "alternative" time to the final. Conveniently you can download the quiz here, so if you're invited to a Quiz and Carols: you know what to do.

Down well below the fold on the Church Support Hub, there's a link to a piece on the morality (or not) of Qatar hosting the Christmas World Cup. I note that Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby, is the C of E's "lead bishop" on sport. I look forward to hearing who the lead bishops are for ceramics, crane manufacture, doilies, matt paints in pastel colours, and Christmas decorations.

Wednesday 2 November 2022

All Souls' Day

Brown lime-leaves spiral to the sky
moved by the spirit as the hallowed breeze
brings damp discord to this sodden day.
The murmured prayer of those invisible
muttering with the aching trees
as spotted ash leaves fall.
From the earth they grew
to the earth they return
from the earth, new life will rise.