Sunday, October 31, 2010

The High Altar

A painting of the high altar by Karel Verschaeren (1881-1928) in 1915 or early 1916 before the installation of the sanctuary gates and the murals of Walter Starmer, and before the organ was moved from the west end (1934).

The sanctuary lamp was given by the first vicar in February 1912 replacing the earlier lamp (consecrated by the Bishop of London in May 1911) which is now in the Lady Chapel. It is of silver-gilt and (he said) "was fashioned more than 350 years ago, and both in style and size . . . is admirably adapted for our Byzantine building". If this date is correct, it is the oldest item in the possession of the church.

The sanctuary chairs (together with a bishop's chair) were given in September 1912. The large brass candlesticks were given in March 1918 (probably by the same donor). These all remain to this day, unlike the hanging illuminated cross. This was originally in St Olave's, Hanbury Street and was brought to St Jude's in May 1913 after that church had been demolished.

The ambo - or "Lectern in keeping with the Byzantine character of the building" - was designed by H. A. Welch and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1914. It was dedicated by the Bishop of Winchester in April of that year in memory of the Rt Hon. Alfred Lyttelton.

This picture (from a postcard) shows the High altar and choir stalls in their original form. The altar is against the original flat east wall. Behind and above it is a fabric baldachino. The altar has a very high rear-table on which stands short candlesticks and a very high cross (not a crucifix) mounted on a twisted wood pillar (this is now the paschal candle holder). The choir stalls are of a simple design and are positioned further back into the space later occupied by the organ. There are no altar rails and the congregational chairs extend much further east.

Below, two paintings of the high altar in February 1960 by J. P. Offley who was sacristan at St Jude's for many years.

The credence table (to the right) was designed by Lutyens, and was an anonymous gift to the church. It was dedicated by the Bishop of Willesden on 30 May 1912 together with the choir stalls.

The stalls (shown in the first picture) (and later the repositioned organ) actually subvert the 'Byzantine' layout of the church by artificially creating a 'chancel' where there is none. In theory the congregational space comes right up to the sanctuary steps, but has now been pushed (too far) back beyond the 'crossing', presumably because of the pressure to make the church conform to Anglican expectations (see plan).
The brass sanctuary gates were unveiled in July 1916 by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, as a memorial to Mrs Cockroft (the probable donor of all the other items mentioned here). These were also designed by H. A. Welch.


The celebrant in this painting is presumably Father William Mansfield Masters (Vicar 1955-1962). He is assisted by a deacon and sub-deacon. The altar frontal and vestments are all still in use (and were indeed used on the day of posting, being All Saints' Sunday).

The high altar from the History of S. Jude-on-the-Hill (1923). Starmer's murals are complete in the Lady Chapel, but his paint brush has yet to reach the sanctuary. All items (and several more) present and correct. The large, brass alms-dish on the credence table was the gift of Mr A. S. Maynard of Montreal, and was dedicated in February 1912. Between 1916 and 1923 the long green curtains behind the altar have been removed, but not yet replaced with the shorter blue ones (themselves removed in about 1998). The altar still has a high back panel.

In recent weeks we have been using the high altar, rather than the new free standing altar. This is in order to accustom the servers (and the Vicar) to celebrating in the 'traditional' manner for the centenary of the consecration next year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

St Jude's Day in the Lady Chapel

We welcomed the Area Dean, Father Gwyn Clement,
as preacher at our celebration of St Jude's Day
and the centenary of the dedication of the Lady Chapel.

Edward the boat boy (the Vicar started here)

Anastasia leads the procession

The altar, prepared by Iris Elkington

Ave Maria

Enamelled terracotta Virgin and Child
given in memory of Roma Read

St Jude chasuble worn by the vicar

St Jude banner (early 1920s)

Our Lady's banner (remade 1962)
and Diamond Jubilee banner (1971)

Image of Our Lady after Fra Fillippo Lippi Madonna with two Angels (in the Uffizi, Florence) given as the Shears Memorial (1964) (on south side of sanctuary)

The Angelus (by the bell pull)

Anna returned from Oxford to direct the music

Agreement reached

The temperance tradition of the Free Church was represented.

Photos by Lucrezia Walker

Photos (and flowers) by Iris Elkington

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Communion before Confirmation

For discussion on Sundays 31 October and 7 November

Policy on Christian Initiation:
Children, Communion and Confirmation

1. The Meaning of Initiation

Initiation means ‘beginning’ or ’joining in’, and here refers to those rites and practices through which one comes to participate in the life of the church.

It has been taken in particular to refer to baptism, confirmation and admission to holy communion.

The relevant Common Worship volume, Christian Initiation, includes ‘Rites on the Way’ and Rites of Affirmation’, reminding us that ‘initiation’ is part of a process rather than a single event or events. All Christians are ‘On the Way’ (to quote the title of the most recent General Synod report on initiation}.

Our policy on initiation seeks to be faithful to the teaching of scripture and the church as we have received it within the Anglican tradition.

2. Initiation in the Christian Tradition

2.1 The New Testament

Most scholars today would argue that christian initiation as portrayed in the New Testament is 'complete' in water baptism. Baptism was the outward sign of conversion which 'effected' incorporation into the body of Christ, the church. It was a once and for all rite that corresponded to the 'conversion' of the individual (which might be understood as a lifelong process).

In the New Testament the Apostles lay hands on baptized converts and disciples “and they receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8.14, 19.6). However there are also reports of converts receiving the Spirit before baptism (Acts 9.17), and elsewhere of Baptism itself bringing the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.38).

The attempt to reconcile these accounts led to the suggestion, indeed the 'doctrine', that there was a necessary second part to Christian initiation which required the laying on of hands by an apostle (or later by a 'successor' to the apostles).

The New Testament does not really provide sufficient evidence to support such a definite conclusion, and it might be better to conclude from this early ‘charismatic’ period of the Church’s history that God himself is not bound by rites and ‘sacraments’. Furthermore, Christians of this time would probably not have been as ‘troubled’ as their successors by the exact order in which the elements of initiation took place, because they would have seen them as together comprising a single ‘process’. 'Ritual' practice might have varied from place to place.

2.2 The Early Church

What we call ‘confirmation’ has its origins in the second century in a rite of the laying on of hands in association with the rite of water baptism. By now this is understood to be for the reception of the Holy Spirit, and is therefore a necessary supplement to water baptism.

In the first centuries of the Church most candidates for initiation were adults. They underwent a period of preparation which involved instruction, fasting, penitence and prayer leading up to baptism, ‘confirmation’ and admission to holy communion on a single occasion, usually at the Easter Liturgy on the night of Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday.

As the Christian community grew the majority of candidates were children born into Christian homes. Furthermore the bishop, originally the local pastor, could only be in one place at Easter and was represented in most places by a priest. As a consequence, what originally had been a singleprocess was now experienced by the candidate as a series ofrites over an extended period.

Baptism, administered soon after birth by the ‘parish priest’, was 'confirmed' later
when the bishop laid his hands upon the candidate. This latter 'event' then came to be thought of as a separate ritedistinct from baptism (Confirmation’ with a capital ‘C’). It became one of the ‘seven sacraments’ and so required its own theological identity and explanation. Rather than ‘conferring’ the Holy Spirit, it was interpreted as a ‘strengthening’ in the Spirit for the christian life, theprocess of conversion and growth in faith.

Confirmation, thus understood, ceased to be a (part of the) sacrament of initiation. Christian initiation was complete in water baptism (which was itself understood as conferring the Holy Spirit). However, in as much as admission to holy communion was made to depend on the previous reception of the sacrament of confirmation, it continued to have an initiatory function.

2.3 Reformation and beyond

Because 'conversion' was seen in protestantism more as an 'event' than a 'process', its 'sign', baptism, was often postponed until the candidate could give an account of their faith. Where infant baptism was retained, a new 'rite' was devised which replaced (though sometimes retained the name) 'confirmation'. Its purpose was to give the candidate the opportunity to 'confirm' the baptismal promises made on their behalf by their godparents, and for the church to 'confirm' the candidate's understanding of christian teaching on faith and morals.

Although this new kind of confirmation was not strictly initiatory (it was, as it were, confirming that initiation was complete in baptism), it often became the gateway to holy communion, and so acquired a secondary initiatory significance.

3. Confirmation and the Church of England

3.1 Schools of thought

The English Reformers saw confirmation principally as an event in which the bishop admitted candidates to holy communion on the basis of an examination of their understanding of the reformed faith expressed in the catechism. Because he did this through the laying on of hands (and because he was a bishop after all!) this latter act came to be seen by some either as an effective 'strengthening' in the spirit, or (by a particular 19th and early 20th century school of thought) as the conferring of the Holy Spirit and the completion of (a two-stage) initiation begun with baptism.

The fact that the Prayer Book required confirmation also of those baptized as adults seemed to reinforce a two-stage Anglican understanding of initiation and the necessity of both for admission to holy communion.

3.2 The Age for Confirmation and Communion

The Prayer Books envisage children being presented for Confirmation when they come to the “years of discretion” or are “of perfect age” (BCP 1662 “competent age”), that is to say around the age of seven in canon law. The actual test is that "they can say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments" and answer questions on the same from the 'short Catechism' (i.e. the first part of the Prayer Book Catechism).

Responsibility for rehearsing children in these texts fell primarily on parents and 'masters'. The role of the 'Curate of the parish' was to ensure this was done and provide 'remedial' instruction when it was not.

The age of 13, often taken by Anglicans to be the ‘correct age’ for Confirmation, appears to have its origins in the 1604 Canons which prescribe that bishops make three-yearly visits to ensure that all are confirmed by the age of 16. By late Victorian times this age conveniently coincided with the age of transfer to public school or, in the case of others, the school-leaving age.

Anglican writers down to that time are usually to be found complaining that Confirmation is being delayed too much. George Herbert, for example, in his Country Parson (1632) – a manual for the clergy – says:

“the time of one’s first receiving [holy communion] is not so much by years as by understanding . . . Children and youths are usually deferred too long under pretence of devotion to the Sacrament”.

By “understanding” he does not seem to be referring to the completion of some course of preparation, but whether:

“one could distinguish the sacramental from common bread,

whether, that is, one understood the ‘context’ in which the bread was being eaten - that this meal was ‘different from all other meals’ (to quote the Passover Haggadah).

3.3 The Reality

In practice, whatever the theology, confirmation came to be popularly thought of as admitting one to 'full membership' of the church.

Confirmation for many became almost a 'graduation' from Sunday School, and marked the end, rather than the deepening, of their participation on the life of the church (although now of course they had the 'right' to receive holy communion on an occasional attendance).

The focus of confirmation in the Church of England in a way became the preparation for it rather than the event itself or what followed from it. Preparation was generally understood as 'confirmation classes' (usually taken by the most junior member of the clergy available) on the lines of 'extra RE'.

In recent years the church of England has de factorecognized that confirmation is not necessary for admission to holy communion, and by implication, that baptism alone initiates, through inviting baptized members of other churches to receive.

In recent years there has been, on the one hand, some movement towards admitting children to communion at an earlier (pre-secondary) age, and, on the other to transforming confirmation into a rite of adult commitment.

4. Moving Forward

Although it is said that Baptism represents complete initiation into the Christian faith there is of course a sense in which this initiation is expressed (and sustained) through admission to holy communion. In principle baptism admits to holy communion, but it is not inappropriate for there to be an interval between the two for further preparation. This is particularly so in the case of children, and Confirmation has been valuable structuring such preparation.

However what might be described as an overemphasis on confirmation (in both traditions) has often led to preparation being thought of as for this additional rite rather than for admission to holy communion. When confirmation is postponed to adulthood, there still remains a possibility of it, rather than actual participation being seen as the actual sign of full membership of the church.

In short, as often be seen said, confirmation has been asked to bear too much, and should be better be understood as a modest rite associated with baptism and admission to holy communion, without itself being initiatory. Through the bishop it brings the individual into contact with the wider and apostolic church, and is an opportunity for affirmation and prayer for the neophyte. It is not, and nor is theCommon Worship rite, about the giving of the sacramental giving of the Spirit.

The appropriate time for this kind of confirmation is around that of 'first communion' but could precede or follow it.

4.4 The Proposed Policy

In practice ‘admission to holy communion’ might be understood as short hand for a ‘participatory appreciation’ of the Eucharist. Children bought up to participate in the liturgy come at some point to recognize that they are doing something really special before they understand how theologians have attempted to explain it. Something like what Bishop Ian Ramsey called ‘disclosure situation’ is involved.

The suggestion is that the ‘formation’ of baptized Christians takes place within the context of the liturgy, and it is through participation in the liturgy that one comes to appreciate it (rather than through a detached course of preparation).

The basis of the proposed policy is that the years in which young children participate in the (liturgical) life of the church, from their baptism through the age of discretion, is the equivalent for them of the catechumenate of the early church. It is within this period that they are appropriately fully initiated into the body of Christ through baptism and admission to holy communion.

Preparation for this initiation is primarily a matter of participation rather than instruction, although of course participation itself involves an important educational dimension (a ‘junior church’ rather than a ‘Sunday school’). Furthermore ‘preparation’ is not confined to the period leading up to admission to holy communion, but is a life-long process of ‘mystagogy’ primarily located in liturgy.

The proposal is that baptized children be admitted to holy communion and confirmed at or around the age of discretion.

It is emphasized that the proposal is not simply that children might be admitted to holy communion 'before' being confirmed (in the sense that the traditional order of these elements of initiation might be reversed as a matter of course).

The suggestion is rather that children of the age of discretion be considered to be ‘ready and desirous to be so confirmed’ (Canon B 15A) because of their active participation in the life of the church for at least a year, and subject to their own and their parents’ agreement.

The corollary is that Confirmation itself be administered closer to the age of discretion, and in practice at around the time of (before or after) transfer to secondary school.

It is submitted that such a policy is more consistent with the tradition of the church than one in which children are admitted to holy communion at an early age, and in which Confirmation is redefined as a rite of adult affirmation separated often by many years from baptism and ‘first communion’ (as well as with the requirements of theGuidelines agreed by the House of Bishops in March 1997).

4.5 The Proposed Practice

The Guidelines require that admission to holy communion is “marked in some suitable way before the whole congregation”.

It is envisaged that admission might take place during a Parish Eucharist towards the beginning of the Church’s year (perhaps the Feast of Christ the King).

In the weeks (September/October) leading up to this preparation would be made in Sunday School including ‘rehearsals’ of the various parts of the liturgy.
Children admitted would receive communion in the normal way on subsequent weeks, and would attend the ‘full’ eucharist on occasions when there was no Sunday School (Ash Wednesday, Christmas and Easter in particular), due recognition of their presence being made.

A children’s liturgy would be held at the beginning of each ‘term’ in which those already admitted to communion would play a larger part as servers etc.

All Sunday School children would attend the Confirmation service when usually, but not necessarily, those who had been admitted to holy communion and completed a course of preparation would be confirmed.

In the weeks preceding Confirmation all children in Sunday school would receive an introduction to its meaning and participate in a ‘rehearsal’ of the rite. Those to be confirmed would attend a special session of preparation.

It is envisaged that eventually most children would be admitted to communion between the ages of 7 and 8, and be confirmed by 10 or 11.

4.6 ‘On-going’ Christian Formation

A ‘formational’ dimension should also be incorporated into the life of the church as a whole to emphasize the ‘progressive’ character of Christian initiation.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Leading the intercessions

Parish Church of Saint Jude-on-the-Hill

Leading the Intercessions

Canon B12 “ . . . the Prayer of Intercession may be at the invitation of the minister be read by a lay person at the celebration of the Holy Communion.”

Follow this link to the Forms of Intercession in Common Worship pp 281-287 and to the Endings for Intercessions pp 288-289:

There also a note on page 332.

There are now special forms of Intercession for feasts and the seasons. This should be made clear on the rota and a word, or preferably an email, to the Vicar will bring you the texts for these.

The list of the sick, the dead and the minds is available from the vestry – please make sure you are clear about names (and pronunciations).

The idea

Intercessions are specific prayers. They are not general prayers for grace, forgiveness, strength or whatever. The day has a Collect, which the celebrant has already said, and which sets the theme for the day. The intercessions is not the place for introducing other themes through more collects or set 'stand-alone' prayers'.

The idea behind the Intercessions is that the local Christian community has ‘gathered’ or ‘assembled’ to celebrate the Liturgy on Sunday morning or on a principal feast of the Church. They do so as part of the universal ‘catholic’ church, and of a wider a national community and they remember those who are unable to be present.  

The community should not, therefore, really be learning from the intercessions who is sick or has died (although it should be recognized that many in fact will be so learning.) 

 This is expressed in the basic structure of the Intercessions which should always include prayer for satnd:

the Church (focused in prayer for the bishop(s) by name;

the nation (focused in prayer for the sovereign by name);

the local community;

those in need (and absent);

the departed.

The most basic form of intercession could therefore look like this:

We pray for the Church, for Richard and Peter our bishops.

We pray for our nation, for Elizabeth our Queen.

We pray for our parish of Hampstead Garden Suburb.

We pray for X and Y who are sick.

We pray for Z who died on Monday and for Q and P whose years minds (or the anniversaries of whose deaths) fall this week.

It is appropriate to expand the petitions a little bit, for example:

We pray for the Church as she observes this penitential season of Lent, for Richard and Peter our bishops, for those preparing for baptism or confirmation at Easter.

We pray for our nation as she prepares for the General Election, for Elizabeth our Queen, for the peace of the world, for those serving in the armed forces.

We pray for all who live work or study in our parish of Hampstead Garden Suburb, for the schools and the Institute, the work of the Fellowship, for the Jewish community.

We pray for X and Y who are sick.

We pray for Z who died on Monday and for Q and P whose years minds fall this week.

But you should not go into too much detail. These are prayers not notices:

We pray for X and Y who are sick (not for “X who has cancer” or “Y who is recovering from a recent fall and unable to get to the shops without the help of her carer who does not always turn up”). . .  Considerable care should be taken to ensure that the sick person would give their permission to be mentioned by name. We do not usually pray for those who present.

We pray for Z who died on Monday or whose funeral takes place on Friday (but not “for X whose funeral will take place in the West Chapel at Golders Green on Friday at 2pm followed by refreshments in the tea room”).

There are some things which sometimes appear in the Intercessions which probably should not and others which rarely appear but occasionally might:

We pray for the Church, for Richard and Peter our bishops (but not for the Vicar, Readers or Church Wardens – especially if they are present – as they are part of the assembly offering the prayers).

We pray for our nation, for Elizabeth our Queen (to which might be added our Mayor and Borough of Barnet).

There are some words and expressions it is better to avoid:

We pray for those who are sick especially or particularly for X and Y who and for any others known to us. (The prayers for the sick are specifically for those who would normally be present but cannot be today. Sometimes, though, we are asked to pray for others by name and we should always accept this request.)

We pray for the dead, or for X who has died . . . not for those who have ‘passed away’ or ‘who are no longer with us’.

Sometimes we should add extra petitions:

We pray for the victims of the earthquake in X, and for those involved in rescue work . . .

We pray for Y to be baptized today, for her parents and godparents.

We don’t have to begin each petition with “We pray for”:

We could say

We pray for the Church, for Richard and Peter our bishops.

We ask for your blessing on our nation, for Elizabeth our Queen.

We bring before you the needs of our parish of Hampstead Garden Suburb.

We commend to your care X and Y who are sick.

We remember Z who died on Monday and for Q and P whose years minds fall this week.


Bless your Church . . .

Guide our nation . . .

Lead our parish . . .

Comfort the sick . . .

Remember Z who died . . .

We might want to invite a response to each petition from the congregation:

Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Lord, hear us: Lord, graciously hear us.

These two are on the congregational sheets, this is another one which ought to be:

Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

You could make one up:

In your compassion, Lord: Grant our prayer.

But then you will have to tell the congregation what to say (as you will if you are using special seasonal intercessions):

“The response to “In your compassion, Lord” is “Grant our prayer”. (Then say it again): “In your compassion, Lord: Grant our prayer”.

When inviting a response (especially an unfamiliar one) pause, look up, say your phrase, and then lead the congregation in theirs.

There is a special response to the petition for the (recent) dead:

Rest eternal grant unto her/him/them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them.

To which is sometimes added:

May she/he/they rest in peace. Amen.

The minds list

Say “X and Y whose years minds (sg, years mind)” of, if you prefer, “the anniversaries of whose deaths . . . “.

When remembering a priest or bishop say “John Smith, priest or John Smith, priest, and second vicar of this church.

The intercessions could end with a short prayer (eg "All this we ask for Jesus sake" and ‘Amen’), or usually with “Merciful Father . . .” (see CW 288-9 above).

It is traditional to preface “Merciful Father . . .” with a mention of the saints:

"Uniting our prayers with those of the Blessed Virgin Mary, X, Jude, our patron and all the saints, we say:"


"Rejoicing in the fellowship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, X , Jude, our patron and all the saints, we say:"

The Blessed Virgin Mary is always mentioned first (and never omitted); she may be referred to as our Lady, our blessed Lady, Blessed Mary, Mary the Mother of God, Mary the Mother of Jesus, or just Mary.

X = the saint of the day who will only be an apostle (and so a special form of service will be being used). (Remember all other saints’ days are transferred when they fall on a Sunday – so contrary to what the ‘world’ thinks it can never, for example, be Valentine’s day or St George’s day on a Sunday, and they should not be specifically included in the intercessions.)

Saints whose days happen to fall in the coming week should not usually be mentioned.

As well as X, being the saint of the day, it is appropriate to add Joseph during the Christmas season, John the Baptist in Advent etc

Silence in the intercessions.

It is appropriate to have a very short period of silence or pause after each petition and before the response is invited.

Sometimes you might want to invite a more specific period of silence before the final response:

“In a moment of silence we bring our prayers before you/offer our prayers to you”, etc

It is better to call it ‘silence’ rather than ‘quiet’.

It is important that you then actually have a period of silence and don’t talk through it or end it immediately!

Some other points

Remember the Intercessions are petitions not thanksgivings, so avoid “We just thank you, Lord, for this beautiful day and the opportunity to come together to praise you” etc

They are not sermons, so avoid “In an age when people spend more time and money on their gardens than they do on more worthy causes such as the cat’s home, we pray for the church . . . ".

They are not notices, "we pray for those involved in preparing for next weekend's bookfair", but not "books can be handed at the vestry in between 10 and 4"

They are not an opportunity to harangue people, so avoid “We pray that the congregation will dig deeply into their pockets for the central heating fund . . ."

They are not an opportunity to express an opinion, so avoid “We pray that the vicar will soon find another position . . ."

There is a tendency to make the Intercessions too long, rather than too short.

There is a tendency to say too much, rather than too little when introducing a particular petition.

There is not enough silence during the Intercessions.

There is a tendency for the congregation to expect you or the Vicar or churchwardens to know everyone who is sick or whose ‘minds’ are occurring, and to have included them in the list, whereas, at least in theory, the list is compiled from names ‘handed in’ at the vestry before the service.

Important as the Intercessions are they are sometimes omitted when a particular form of liturgy is being celebrated.