Vol I No. 7
Feasts & Seasons

What are the duties of Christians, ... in a time of such dire calamity? — John Keble

by William J. Martin

That was the Question posed by John Keble in his famous Assize Sermon

that launched the Oxford Movement in July 1833

Commemorated in a Choral Evensong with Sermon

upon the Feast of John Keble

With music from the sound archives of  The Grosvenor Chapel under the Direction of Richard Hobson

and the Church of Advent Boston, under the Direction of Mark Dwyer assisted by Jeremy Bruns.

Prelude: the conclusion of  the Prelude in F Major, Op 85 ‘4 by Max Reger (1873 – 1916)

 Präludien und Fugen für die Orgel no. 2, played by Peter Bayer, Doctoral Student in Classics of the University of Toronto.

Opening Anthem*:  

Locus iste by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) sung by the Choir of the Grosvenor Chapel (each part recorded remotely and subsequently re-mixed in ensemble).

Preces and Responses*: Wlliam Smith of Durham (1603-1645)

Psalm 103  Benedic, anima mea, to a setting composed by Lt-Col (in the Royal Horse Guards) John Lemon,  M.P. for Truro in Cornwall (1754-1814).

The Lessons: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 Matthew 5:1-12

Magnificat and Nunc dimittis*, The Gloucester Service, (1946) by Herbert Howells, CBE, C.H. (1892 –1983)

SERMON  – of which an extended version will be posted here shortly

exploring the fuller basis and implications of Keble’s position,  and its role in explaining why – despite his dark view of the crisis facing the Anglican Church Keble steadfastly refused to follow the example of John Henry Newman and others in leaving it.

The closing lines penned by Keble are also particularly fitting at this time

when the very sad news of the death of J I Packer has just emerged:

Blest are the pure in heart,
for they shall see our God;
the secret of the Lord is theirs,
their soul is Christ’s abode.

Still to the lowly soul
he doth himself impart,
and for his dwelling and his throne
chooseth the pure in heart.

Lord, we thy presence seek;
may ours this blessing be;
give us a pure and lowly heart,
a temple meet for thee.

The Anthem*Hail Gladdening Light

– as translated by John Keble (see below) from the Φως ιλαρον set here by the Irish composer from Armagh Charles Wood 1866-1926 (who tutored Ralph Vaughan Williams in Cambridge and Herbert Howells at the Royal College of Music).

Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of Holies, Jesus Christ our Lord!

Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest;
The lights of evening round us shine;
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!

Worthiest art Thou at all times to be sung
With undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, Giver of life, alone:
Therefore in all the world Thy glories, Lord, they own.

This text comprises the earliest known Christian hymn recorded outside the Bible that is still in use today.  It was first recorded by the unknown author in the Apostolic Constitutions, which is thought to have been written in the late 3rd or early 4th century.  Saint Athenogenes, a saint of unknown date, but whose saint’s day is 16 July, was believed by some, including St. Basil,  to have composed this hymn on the way to being martyred  — with the story being told that he was an elderly bishop and that the executioner’s arm was paralyzed until the saint had completed composing the text.  The hymn was long part of vespers in the Byzantine Rite.

The Postlude: 

Organ Concerto in F, op 4, no 5, HWV 293,

by George Frederick Handel (1685-1759)  Larghetto — Allegro — Alla siciliana — Presto, played on the 1935 Aeolian-Skinner Organ of The Church of the Advent

Handel was a long standing member of the Congregation in the Parish of Mayfair at St George’s Hanover Square a London Church where the Hanoverian monarchs frequently worshipped

*Sung by the Choir of the Church of the Advent Boston as recorded in the sound archive here used by kind permission of the Rector Fr Douglas Anderson.