Sunday, December 31, 2017

The new year begins

Just grabbing a few moments peace and quiet, while DH takes the rest of the family into the village to see the Christmas lights, to wish you all a very happy New Year. 2017 has been a difficult year for many, yet it is human nature to look forward at the year’s turning and trust that next year things will be different and better.

In that spirit may I wish you and yours health, contentment and peace of body and mind in 2018. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Nadolig Llawen

This is the first Christmas for 11 years that we will spend at home in Wales, so it seems appropriate to wish you all a very happy Christmas in Welsh. As it’s so long since I hosted the family for Christmas instead of being hosted by them, I’d forgotten how much work is involved. That must be why it’s taken me until the morning of Christmas Eve to gather my thoughts sufficiently to write my Christmas blog post. But now the house is quiet, with some visitors out, the younger generation busy with their own affairs, and DH en route, bring his mother to spend Christmas with us.

Searching for music was, as always, intensely pleasurable and also fraught with memories, conjured up by a few notes or bars of this carol or that. The carol I’ve chosen has been one of my favourites ever since I sang it as a first-year undergraduate in 1965, discovering the joys of choral singing as a member of the college chapel choir. The carol setting was still new and not yet well-known and I was young, which may be why it embedded itself in my heart and is still so powerfully evocative. The glorious rendering also dates from that era and it comes to you with my warmest wishes for a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.

Image:   The Adoration of the Shepherds by Matthias Stom (c. 1600 – 1652)

Carol:    There is no rose
               Words: English traditional, circa 1420
               Music: John Joubert – Opus 14, 1954

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Advent pause

As the sun gradually sinks towards setting on this Advent Sunday afternoon, I’m sitting in my cosy study in a completely silent house. DH is on one of his periodic visits to his mother and I am enjoying the peace after a busy and enjoyable morning at church.

Our bishop was with us for a special Advent Sunday service to mark the opening of communion to all baptised persons, whatever their age. All the congregations in our group had come together to celebrate the occasion and this being Wales, the singing at its peak threatened to raise the roof. After the service we gathered in the adjoining church hall for a bring and share lunch and a great deal of lively conversation.

As I drove home, I reflected on what we had just shared and it seemed to me to offer glimpses of hope and encouragement in what can so often seem to be our dark and divided world. The opening of communion to all is for me a symbol of the pulling down of barriers and healing of divisions. The sharing of food and fellowship was the perfect way to mark the church’s New Year and the beginning of the period of preparation for Christmas we call Advent.

The hymns we sang were carefully chosen to reflect the twin themes of Advent. We began with “O come, o come, Emmanuel”, that great hymn of longing for the coming of the Messiah, and ended with Charles Wesley’s magnificent hymn looking forward to the return of Christ in glory. Plenty of musical and spiritual sustenance there to see me through all the busyness of the next three weeks until we again celebrate the wonder of the Nativity.