Skip to content

Morning Prayer, September 20th 2018

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel: Morning Prayer, 20th September

 Hymn of Praise:  NEH 395 King of glory, King of peace.

 Reading for the day (NRSV): Acts 20.17 – end


Well, this doesn’t bring us to the end of the Acts of the Apostles – we shall have another two weeks of readings, but there is something distinctly valedictory about it. An apt reading. As many here will know, in the Episcopalian [Anglican] community we are about to lose our Bishop – travelling to neither Jerusalem nor Rome (!) but retiring in less that one month’s time. And this lunchtime will be his last among us at our Eucharist as the Bishop of the Diocese (though we hope to see even more of him once he has retired!)

So, the new academic session is under way and already we are talking about farewells. Endings and beginnings.

I spent a little time this summer exploring my own beginnings – at least those of my father, born in Newtown in Wales. On our pilgrimage to Newtown we stopped at the beautiful church of St Nicholas in Montgomery, where the tomb of George Herbert’s father and mother is to be found and where George, one of whose poems we have just sung as our hymn, was baptised.

The melody for the hymn was composed by John or Joseph David Jones. Now, these are not uncommon names in Wales but my reading suggests that this is the JD Jones brought up in Llanfair Caereinion, no distance from my father’s and thus my own roots in Newtown and from Herbert’s early beginnings in Montgomery. All things come together. Endings and beginnings.

This lunchtime, Lee Johnston will join us for the last time before he is ordained Deacon at the end of this month. All things change. An ending and a beginning.

As we make our new beginnings in this academic session, so we remember all those for whom these are ending times, and those who are not joining us this session. We send them our blessings.

With Prayers and Blessings



Summoned by the bell ….

No, not for the start of classes but rather the call to assemble for worship in the University Memorial Chapel. One of the truly great things about studying / working at the UofG is the daily Morning Prayer (08.45 – 08.55 in the Chapel). Based on the daily service at Iona, we gather to sing a hymn and hear a short reading from the Bible. Whoever is leading the service then offers a short reflection on what we have heard and finally leads us in prayer.

This is a precious element of life at the University. It is rare to be able to worship on a daily basis in the place where you work or study.

Listethe Chapel Bell Tower (1)n for the bell – and join us!



Summer moves into autumn …

Despite the date, the long summer in Glasgow shows no obvious sign of coming to an end. The afternoon temperature remains pleasingly above 15º (a very autumnal temperature) and bursts of sunshine continue to break through the grey cloud.

But autumn is on its way. Tomorrow (August 24th) is the Feast of St Bartholomew, traditionally the day of the great end-of-summer Fair in London’s Smithfield; and Wednesday of next week (August 29th) is the Feast marking the Beheading of John the Baptist. The end of the summer draws nigh.

Actually, our summer is pretty much book-ended by John the Baptist. His Feast Day (strictly, his Nativity) is kept on June 24th, midsummer for the solsticians but the beginning of High Summer for the rest of us; and then next week, the Feast of his Martyrdom brings summer’s ease to an end and takes us into the early days of autumn.

The weeks of High Summer are a time for rest and recuperation of course for us all: weeks of festivals and concerts as well as holidays. (We heard some quite wonderful music in my own church of St Bride’s this summer). And for all of us engaged in any way with the academic world this is important down-time (though time for good reading and writing for many). It’s also an exciting time for students (and staff) about to begin a new phase of their life (career). But it is also a time for quiet reflection, for thinking about the year past and drawing up new plans for the year ahead. And so too here in the Anglican Chaplaincy.

Our six choral services (Tuesdays at 6.00pm, October to March, with the Chapel Choir) are formal and we invite guest preachers to address our session’s theme. The programme is under preparation and will be announced here soon. Our Thursday lunchtime Eucharists (1.10pm in the Chapel) are a touch less formal and provide students with the opportunity to train as servers and to learn how to prepare the altar for the Eucharist. We use the same liturgy week by week (the Scottish Episcopal Church’s 1982 liturgy) but I invite fellow priests to preside at the Eucharist during the year, so students experience how the same liturgy can seem different (in tone, though not in words). At our first Eucharist of the session (20th September) our Diocesan Bishop, Bishop Gregor Duncan, will join us to preside.  Bishop Gregor has been a great friend of the Anglican Chaplaincy at Glasgow University and this will be his last service with us before he retires in October. The good news is that he is not leaving Glasgow and so we can look forward to his joining us again later in the session.

So, as our summer of rest and recuperation nears its completion, and as the planning goes forward and the excitement (even academics can feel a little excited as the new session dawns) begins to grow, let us all hope and pray for a joyous and successful year ahead.

with blessings


The Chapel Choir – Broadcasting to the Nation!

One of the particular joys of my role as Hon Anglican Chaplain here at the University of Glasgow is the opportunity to sing with the University’s very excellent Chapel Choir. Mostly, this involves leading six choral services (one Eucharist and five Evensong) in the Chapel (monthly, October to March). But the Chapel Choir, directed by Dr Katy Cooper, are also peripatetic and journey to my own church of St Bride’s in Hyndland once a year to sing Choral Evensong and Benediction. As they did this year on June 17th when they joined our own choir at St Bride’s. That service was joyous and wonderful. However, it was not their only service sung at St Bride’s that day  …

… Earlier that morning the two choirs gathered in the presence of the BBC microphones to sing the Choral Eucharist broadcast live on Radio Four at 8.10am. It was truly a wonderful experience – such wondrous singing, beautifully captured by the marvellous acoustic of St Bride’s. The Chapel Choir sang the anthem, The Lord will always guide you, set by Harold Thalange, one of the Chapel Choir’s members. If you didn’t hear the service, it is on the BBC Radio Four website until July 14th:

(BBCiPlayer> Categories> Religion & Ethics> Sunday Worship).


Do listen!


Finding God and Serving God and all God’s people: The Revd Dr Rae Caro

Many students who come to the Anglican Chaplaincy have a ‘finding God’ experience … or rather, they discover that God has been finding them. Sometimes this is a gradual process, a slow dawning, a coming to terms with who they are. Other times, this is more Pauline – the blinding realisation of God’s love, a love made manifest for us in Jesus Christ. Whether the slow dawning or the blinding realisation the question of how to respond to that love becomes pressing. Usually this involves discussion of some form of vocation. Now, vocation comes in many forms and makes many and different calls upon us. Often it is ordained ministry (deacons and priests) that seems to form the heart of the call; but it may be Lay Readership, a religious (ie, monastic) vocation or the call to serve at the altar. These all offer opportunities to serve God and to serve the people of God. The Chaplaincy provides for many a safe context within which the sense of vocation can be discussed and explored.
For those who do find themselves called to the priesthood, the occasion of their priesting and then the celebration of their first Eucharist form one of the great joys of their ministry – as it does for those of us who have played a part in the process of discernment, of walking a little way with them on their journey. Thus the priesting of Rae Caro by Bishop Christine Hardman at Newcastle Cathedral this Petertide, and Rae’s first celebration of the Eucharist at the church where she is serving her title – St Martin’s, Byker – were all moments of the greatest joy.
Please keep the Revd Dr Rae Caro in your prayers as she embarks on her priestly ministry to serve God and all God’s people.

Rae and Kevin 18.07.01 (1).jpg

Musings on Tyndale

Last night’s Choral Eucharist in the University Chapel was a simply wonderful service. The Chapel Choir was in joyous voice, an immediate tribute to the work of Katy Cooper, our new Director of Chapel Music. The setting of the Mass, which I had not heard before, I had imagined might be a rather plain affair – but it was nothing of the sort. Taken from the Wanley Partbooks (ca 1550 and so contemporary with the first Book of Common Prayer) it was sumptuous. A true delight.
Allied to this was the reflection on William Tyndale from our own Charlotte Methuen. Her sermon follows below (and you may wish to visit her own blog: I wonder how strange Tyndale would have found the shape of our liturgy. In a recent programme for BBC, Melvyn Bragg described Tyndale as ‘one of the greatest men of English history’ and ‘with Shakespeare, a co-founder of the English language’. At the Chapel, we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible four years ago; and so it seems fitting that we should now have remembered Tyndale, on whose translation the KJV relied so heavily. There is a sense that Tyndale is suddenly gaining the recognition so richly merited.
But for students of Thomas More, like me, Tyndale represents a challenge to our interpretation of More who prosecuted a campaign against Tyndale and his translation into the vernacular, ending in Tyndale’s execution for heresy. The tension between More and Tyndale continues for me.
Here is Dr Methuen’s sermon:
[readings: Proverbs 8.4-11; 2 Timothy 3.12-end John 17. 6-8, 14-19]

I can’t help thinking that William Tyndale would have been astonished to find himself at the head of a list of writers from the Anglican Poetic Tradition. Tyndale after all was never an Anglican: having lived for several years in exile, he was executed in Antwerp on 6 October 1536, just two years after the Act of Supremacy removed the English church from papal authority, and thirteen years before the first Book of Common Prayer would be promulgated in 1549. It was that liturgical development that began to make of the Church in England the Church of England and to shape the tradition of Anglicanism which emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Tyndale was never an Anglican, and he was also not strictly a poet. But he was an engaged and talented Bible translator, and one who gave to the English language many of the rhythms and phrases which would inspire generations of Anglican thinkers, whether preachers, poets, or theologians, or a combination of all three.
Born in around 1494, Tyndale graduated BA at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, on 13 May 1512, and was made a subdeacon later that year. He was ordained deacon and then priest in March and April 1515, and took his MA in Oxford in July 1515, before beginning the study of theology, also at Oxford. At some point during his theological studies he encountered a copy of Erasmus’s Novum Instrumentum, a revised Latin translation of the New Testament, printed alongside the original Greek (or most of it ). Tyndale clearly became fascinated by the New Testament. Erasmus had dreamed of the ploughboy reading the Bible at the plough, and Tyndale wanted to make that possible for the people of England. As a good Graecist, he also wanted the New Testament in English to offer a good translation of the Greek. And increasingly, from the early 1520s, he wanted his translation to reflect the insights of the theology he was beginning to learn from the Reformers. At some point he had encountered Luther’s work, probably whilst he was still at Oxford, and became a passionate disciple of the new, biblical, theology
We don’t know much about what happened to Tyndale in this period, but he certainly went to Germany (though probably not to Wittenberg). In 1525, he published a first fragment of the New Testament in English in Cologne. It included a prologue, based on Luther’s prologue to his 1522 German translation of the New Testament. Only this prologue and the beginning of Matthew’s gospel are extant, but, as David Daniell says, “[some of] the words of Jesus that have chimed down the centuries appear here first—‘Ask and it shall be given you: Seek and ye shall find: Knock and it shall be opened unto you’; ‘Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction’.”
Tyndale went on to revise his New Testament in 1534. He also learned Hebrew, probably in Germany, and translated the Pentateuch, which was published during his lifetime, and many of the historical books of the Old Testament, which was not. After his execution, Miles Coverdale produced an English “translation” of the rest of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha, translating them from earlier German and Latin translations rather than from the Hebrew, and published these with Tyndale’s translations. These were then incorporated into the so-called Matthew Bible which was printed after Tyndale’s death in 1537. Daniell suggests that about half the Old Testament translation and all the New Testament were Tyndale’s, and the rest, including the Psalms, was Coverdale’s. The Matthew Bible in turn became the Great Bible which from 1540 was to be placed in every parish church in England and Wales on order of the King and government. So Tyndale’s New Testament became available to everyone in England and Wales, and it was being read in Scotland as well. Over the next century, the Geneva Bible, the Bishops’ Bible and King James’ Authorised version would all take the Great Bible – and with it Tyndale’s New Testament – as their starting point.
But this was not just about books: it was about reading, and access to Scripture. People all over the country could now read the New Testament, the Scriptures in their own language. David Daniell puts it like this: “The great change that came over England from 1526, the ability of every ordinary man, woman, and child to read and hear the whole New Testament in English, accurately rendered, was Tyndale’s work, and its importance cannot be overstressed. The Vulgate was incomprehensible to the ploughboy and most of his familiars throughout the land. Now all four gospels could be read, often aloud, in their entirety, and the whole of Paul. … There is no shortage of evidence of the gatherings of people of all ages, all over the country, to read and hear these English scriptures—and reading meant, so often, reading aloud.” Wills in 1579 put copies of Tyndale’s works in Edinburgh: he did not only appeal to the English, but to all who spoke English. And he continued to be read, for our modern translations still resonate with Tyndale’s language.
What did all this mean to Tyndale? The closing section of our reading today from 2 Timothy gives us a clue, I think. It reads in his translation: “For all scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to amend and to instruct in righteousness.” This passage probably sets out the fundamental reason why Tyndale believed his work of translation to be so important. But it is clear that there was more to his understanding of the importance of Scripture than teaching and correction. In his Pathway into the Holy Scripture, an expanded version of the Prologue to his 1525 Cologne New Testament, which he published separately in around 1536, Tyndale wrote of his joy at discovering the gospel: “Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word, and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings that maketh a man’s heart glad and maketh him sing, dance and leap for joy.” He believed that giving people access to God’s Word, in their own language, would teach them the ways of righteousness – but he believed too that it would open them to joy.
For me, a key verse in the passage from John’s gospel we have just heard read sums up Tyndale’s life. In his translation these words of Jesus to God the Father, about his disciples, read: “I have given them thy words, and the world hath hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
That was Tyndale’s experience too. He gave God’s “words” – God’s Word – to the world, and there were those in the world who hated him for doing so, condemned him as a heretic, and executed him. He died for doing it. But that gift of God’s Word in English proved lasting. The world – the English-speaking world – took his gift and made it their own, and in doing so gave it back to God.
May God be praised.

Choral Eucharist: Glasgow University Memorial Chapel, October 6th 2015

Dear Friends

our series of evening choral services, sung by the University Chapel Choir under the direction of Katy Cooper, our recently appointed Director of Chapel Music, begins this evening at 6pm with as Choral Eucharist.This session we are exploring and reflecting upon the Anglican poetic tradition and for this service we begin with William Tyndale, who is remembered within the Anglican communion this day, the anniversary of his execution for heresy in 1536. Tyndale’s translation into English of the New Testament from the Greek will be heavily used in the production of the King James Bible; and it is not unreasonable to thus see him as founding that great poetic tradition within Anglicanism.

The Preacher this evening will be the Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen who teaches at Glasgow University and has published on the Reformation.

The music for this evening, and for all the services in this series, has been chosen to cohere as best as possible with the theme of the service; typically offering either a setting of the poet’s work or contemporary with the poet’s life.

All are welcome at the service.

Anglican Choral Eucharist 15.10.06

Music list:

Setting for the Eucharist:: From the Wanley Partbooks (ca 1549-1552)

Introit:   If ye Love me Thomas Tallis (1505-1585)

Anthem: Blessed are the peacemakers (from Four Peace Motets) Ronald Stevenson (1928-2015)

Organ Voluntary: Voluntary in A Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)

Do join us!

Blessings to all