On Saturday, 22nd December, Father Peter Farrington attended the Evening Prayers and Carol Service of the Indian Orthodox Church of St Gregorios, Brockley, London. He had been invited to give a homily to the congregation by Father Thomas John, and was very pleased indeed to be able to spend an evening in the company of fellow Orthodox Christians.
The evening began with the regular prayers of the Indian Orthodox tradition, offered in English, at which Father Peter assisted Father Thomas John. Then a programme of English carols, and songs in Malayalam had been organised, with a Nativity Play performed by the younger members of the congregation.
The range of talent in the congregation was most impressive and it seemed that there were three or four different choirs of great ability, which together with the enthusiastic performances of the children of the congregation made for a most delightful evening. At one point a choir of deacons sang some of the traditional Malayalam hymns of the Church and were joined by Father Thomas John and Father Mathew Abraham.
Father Peter spoke on the theme of Christ becoming man as the Prince of Peace, and particularly reflected on the prophecy of Isaiah and the angelic proclamation to the shepherds.
At the end of the evening Father Christmas distributed gifts to the excited children, and Father Peter was then fortunate to be able to share in some of the excellent and authentic Indian food which the hospitable community provided. This was a most enjoyable evening, and the opportunity to share in fellowship with the Indian Orthodox clergy and faithful was a most blessed beginning to the Nativity season.
The Church of Christ the Saviour, Bournemouth, Advent Carol Service took place this year on Sunday 9 December. Numbers were up on recent years and the enthusiastic congregation sang with joy and gusto. As the service is based on that anciently sung with the Magnificat in Vespers during Advent, the Magnificat was included, being chanted antiphonally. Further additions to the carols in the printed service were two beautiful solos by Diana Radu, Romanian Carols sung in her native language. The address was given by Subdeacon Antony-Paul Holland. He admitted that he had not always been “a great fan of carols” but had come to appreciate them for a number of reasons. There was the unity they offered “with our forbears”, those Christians of previous generations who had sung them before us and indeed who had composed them. Then there was their link with the scriptures, particularly “the prophecies of the coming of a Messiah such as those in the book of Isaiah, and the stories surrounding the Nativity in the New Testament.” Carols also helped us fulfil the numerous Biblical exhortations to sing and to join with the choirs of angels: “Our carolling is certainly an opportunity to join with this unceasing hymn of praise…”
On Saturday 8 December, following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the Portsmouth Parish of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black held its Annual General Meeting. Subdeacons Antony-Paul Holland and James-Antony Kelly were elected to the offices of Secretary and Treasurer respectively for 2013. Financial matters discussed and decided were principally the payment of the Church tithe to Central Fund for both 2012 and the previous year as something that simply must be done as a spiritual and Biblical requirement and also that the Portsmouth Church would commit to supporting (through regular monthly payments via the Barnabas Fund) a displaced Syrian Christian family throughout the forthcoming year. Father Simon reminded the assembled Church members of the Syrian origins of the British Orthodox Church back in the nineteenth century with the consecration of our first bishop and of the debt we owed Syrian Christianity. There was unanimous support for the motion and the Portsmouth congregation followed on from the recent decision of the Bournemouth congregation to likewise (via the Barnabas Fund) support a Syrian Christian family throughout the forthcoming year.
To mark forty years of Common Statements between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Solemn Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary was celebrated at St. James’s Catholic Church, Spanish Place, on 6 December, the Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra. Sponsored jointly by the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum (COORF) and the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin, it was presided over by The Most Rev’d Archbishop Kevin McDonald. The service, much of which was in Latin (and included settings by Monteverdi and Palestrina), was sung by the Choir of St. James’ Church, directed by Mr. Terry Worroll, with Mr. Simon Lloyd, Director of Music of the Carmelite Church in Kensington, as organist. It concluded with a Malankara Orthodox Syrian Hymn of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, sung by the choir of St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church at Brockley, directed by Dr. Thomas Jacob.
Abba Seraphim read the lesson and Archbishop Kevin spoke about the growing manifestation of unity among the churches and the work of the Forum, to which His Grace Bishop Angaelos responded. At the conclusion everyone present was invited to light refreshments, generously provided by St. James’s Church.
On 5 December, Abba Seraphim and Subdeacon Daniel Malyon attended a performance of scenes from the York cycle of the mediaeval mystery plays, which was being performed at St. George-in-the-East Church at Shadwell. This was the first year that the Players of St. Peter, a long established group of amateur and professional actors, had performed at Shadwell. The extracts ranged from the Fall of the Angels and Moses and Pharoah through the Annunciation, Nativity and Baptism and concluding with the Last Judgement.
Mystery plays, depicting biblical stories from Creation to Doomsday were a common way of marking religious festivals in towns and cities and traditionally performed by different trade guilds were widespread throughout England, but fell into disuse at the Reformation when puritans disapproved of religious drama as much as they did of liturgical worship.
Commenting on the genre, Abba Seraphim observed that they had served as a catechetical device for rustic people of simple but strong faith at a time when the scriptures were not readily accessible. They were sound in doctrine and encouraged a good knowledge of both old and new testaments as well as a lively sense of good and evil. Despite our sophistication and ready access to the scriptures, we live in a society where the Bible is a little-read best seller and, apart from regular church goers, knowledge of God’s purpose in creation and redemption, is abysmal today. He commended such plays and agreed with the Players’ desire to feel in touch with a very ancient English tradition of celebrating religious festivals.
- 26 May 2013
- Morning Incense & Divine Liturgy: BournemouthWorship commences 09.30
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Morning Prayer: Babingley10.00am Morning Prayer
- Morning Prayer: ChathamOrthodox Morning Prayer: 10:30 am
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: CharltonRaising of Incense 2.00 p.m.
Divine Liturgy 2.30 p.m.