As Abbot of Bec, Anselm wrote a great deal while he was directing the growing community at Bec Hellouin in the late eleventh century, which rose to become one of the leading centres of intellectual and spiritual thought in medieval Europe. He managed to combine those demanding roles with an extensive correspondence with rulers and nobles all over Europe as their spiritual adviser and counsellor. Continue reading
Michael and Esther have a remarkable testimony of being carried by the Lord through many extremely dangerous and challenging situations. So too in a completely different way does the writer of this remarkable song, our dear friend Carol Sampson from Malvern. We think you will find her deeply candid testimony extremely moving and will probably want to pass it on to others.
Rising from the depths of her being, this burst of praise and thanksgiving came from the heart of a dear friend who lives in Jersey, Anne Laure Jackson. She joined us in Malvern a few months ago to record this and a number of other songs. Sally has prepared an exquisite YouTube to draw us yet deeper into worship. Anne writes:
“I wrote this song at a time when I was overcome with praise and thanks by how much we receive from the Lord when all we can give in return is just to love Him. From that simple act of surrender and letting go of everything else in order to trust, rest and love Him, we get so much in return!
I know, it’s by no means always easy, but it is simple! He made us, He knows us, and He meets us in those deepest places that are so precious and that make life worth living. All of this just for loving Him . . . So beautiful and powerful . . .”
Long before Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God is at hand, the prophet Daniel declared that the Lord’s kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Dan. 7:14). The first reference to Heaven’s Kingdom in the Old English language is in a hymn dating back to the seventh century, in which the songwriter-poet Caedmon declares that “the Eternal Lord, the guardian of mankind, established Heaven as a roof for the children of men, and created middle earth, and appointed lands for people.” He urges us to “praise the keeper of Heaven’s kingdom, the might of the Creator and His purposes, the work of the Father of glory.”
Unlike Daniel, Caedmon was neither literate nor musical. He was, in fact, a farm hand, who cared for the animals at Hilda’s great double monastery in Whitby. Bede, the earliest English historian, tells us that he dreaded the feast days when people sang and made music on the harp. In order to avoid having to take part, he sidled away one day and hid in the stables.
As Psalm 139:7ff reminds us, however, it is not so easy to escape from the Lord! Falling asleep amongst the horses, Caedmon met an unknown person in a dream, who took no notice whatsoever of his protestations concerning his lack of musical skill but commanded him instead just to sing. Obeying reluctantly the farm hand opened his mouth – and out flowed a beautiful song about creation, which he remembered clearly on waking. Continue reading
An offering on behalf of all you dear ones who are seeking to live in the flow of the Holy Spirit.
This is part of a longer piece I wrote called ‘Clean Air’ for recorder, which Peter Richards skilfully reworked to add the lovely string accompaniment.
This second movement traces the path of a stream from its source to the broad places that it reaches.
Rather as it takes time to enter deeply into the Lord’s presence, we would recommend listening to this piece more than once, to allow our spirits to steep in the beauty of the music and the moving pictures that Sally has so skilfully set it to. As we do so, let the Spirit bring any unresolved issues that He wishes to the surface so that we can hand them to Him and allow His peace to flow anew.
One of my favourite verses in the Bible is Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 15:36 that “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies”. This is a truth that illustrates John 12:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
As surely as Jesus knew He must lay down His life two thousand years ago, He also knew that He will come again in glory to rule and to reign (John 12:11, 17-18). In this hymn John Crum poetically likens Christ to the growing grain. Continue reading
God raised Jesus from the dead and set him free from the agony of death, because death could not hold him (Acts 2:24 EXB).
If there is one thing that so-called IS, Communism and consumerism have in common it is that they have no time for the claims of Jesus. The One who came to save the world remains unwanted by many in His own world. Many regimes consider Him a spent force, but whether conditions outwardly are favourable or not to the spread of the gospel, Jesus is at work in incredible power in so many people’s hearts.
It was during the Fire from the Isles conference that I first heard the extraordinary story of the Cave Church in Cairo, in which great glory falls as people seek the Lord. Behind any great move of God you will find human channels – and costly sacrificial decisions. When the Lord called Farahat Ibrahim to minister to the thousands of garbage collectors in Cairo, it took six months for him and his wife to reach a place of willingness to work in that most insalubrious of environments. Continue reading
Recent tensions with Russia in the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) have propelled the name of Estonia to the fore many times over the past couple of years. Most of us probably don’t know much about this country, whose total population is little more than that of Birmingham, and which recent reports indicate is one of the least religious countries in Europe, if not the world. As far more reputedly believe in folk lore spirits and ‘life force concepts’ than in Christ, I thought this would be a good opportunity for us to feature Estonia in this edition.).
Estonians acknowledge that years of prosperity had led to a high degree of complacency, but that they are now feeling decidedly vulnerable to Russian aggression – and anything but reassured by the outrageous claim made by a veteran Republican, Newt Gingrich, that, so far as he is concerned, Estonia is ‘just a suburb of St Petersburg’.
Occupied in turn by the Soviets in 1939, then by the Nazis, and then by the Soviets again, Estonia experienced profound trauma and turmoil during the Second World War. By the end of it, a horrifying 25% of the population had either been sent to Siberia, fled the country or been killed.
Music has long played a special part in sustaining the spirts of the Estonian people, especially during the years of upheaval involved in seeking to become an independent nation, free from Soviet control.
I recently heard about an extraordinary event which played a particularly powerful part in this process bringing about this release. It has become known as the Singing Revolution, in which an unbroken chain of two million people held hands over 600 kilometres.
Until very recently this is a story that has not been told outside Estonia, but now a film has been made about it: “The Singing Revolution” This is a story worth sharing!”
Especially in the light of Russia’s apparent interest in regaining control of these countries, where a fair percentage speak Russia as their mother tongue. (We saw in a previous edition, in Revived Russian Imperialism how this has served in the past as an excuse for Putin to intervene militarily in a region.
Like Ukraine, the Baltic States have been on the receiving end of serious cyber attacks. They are very concerned at how incredibly swiftly military exercises could switch to full blown invasion. It is surely right for to keep this matter in prayer!
Years ago my book Praying Together was translated into Lithuanian, which gives me some highly tenuous second hand involvement in the region.
May the Lord touch the hearts of the Estonian people at this time, and bring about a spiritual awakening that breaks through the complacency – and may He use the power of spiritual music in this process!
I was struggling to find Estonian worship on the web, but you might find it helpful to join with this Estonian choir that was worshipping in Christ Church Jerusalem
How the Lord is longing to take us into a richer, deeper awareness of His presence that takes us beyond our narrow self-focus and adds meaning, colour and experience to every aspect of our lives. We have prepared something special along these lines for you in this edition, featuring the second part of the Idyll that I wrote recently, and which Justin Coldstream kindly arranged for instruments.
Sally Mowbray has excelled herself in creating perhaps the most sumptuous You Tube she has yet designed, highlighting something of the processes by which the Lord draws us closer to Himself. Thank you so much, Justin, Sally, Colin who recorded it, and all who the musicians who played it: Shirley Richards, Helen Rees, Catherine Muncey, Jo Garcia, Corinne Frost, Nicola Gerrard, Amy Roberts and Justin himself.
May the Lord draw us all further on and further in along our pilgrimage, and continue to bless and watch over us.
To watch without the words
As people try and get their heads round the issues involved in the EU Referendum vote, here are some short but distinctly soothing pieces of music written and played on Celtic harp by our friend Jane Horsfall from Jersey. Mike Halliday was playing the clarinet. May it lead our spirit into places of quiet – but also clarity.
The music is lovely and so too are the stunning photographs that Sally has found to accompany these three Sound Clouds.