MOST RECENT POSTS

In this column you will find the most recent posts unless you have selected a specific poem, meditation or collection/index in which case that single item will appear here.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Rosemary For Remembrance: Reflections for Holy Week and Easter

This is a thrilling day for me! Whilst, like many ‘armchair poets’,  I have had the occasional poem appear in collections edited by others or in local newspapers, today has seen the publication of a small personal collection as a download from Wild Goose Publishing, the publications arm of The Iona Community.

I am sure every author finds publication of their own work an exciting experience, but this is especially so as it is a new link in the long thread of our experience with that very special island, Iona, which has been part of our story over the last twenty-five years or so. It all started when I took a retreat at All Hallows, Ditchingham in a year that we had booked a holiday on Mull. I mentioned this to the Mother Superior, who made it her practice to meet all retreatants, and she suggested we went to Iona where her community were going to be ‘baby-sitting’ a small ecumenical retreat house on the island, whilst a new warden was found by the American organisation that ran Duncraig. Pam still tells the story of my sudden stopping to ‘chat up’(!) a nun in the garden of Duncraig which led to us being shown over the accommodation. This was the start of a time when we took groups of friends to the island on several occasions: they were always precious events and we found that rounding off each day at the Iona Community’s Abbey services added immeasurably to their specialness.

It was on the island that Pam felt affirmed in her call into ministry and I found much delight in building up a small suite of Iona poems from visit to visit (see end).

Sadly, Duncraig is no longer a retreat house. A fund-raising campaign I helped with to try and save it foundered when a major prospective donor, whose gift would have enabled the house to continue its ministry, lost money in the banking collapse. As it happens, the money from the subsequent sale of Duncraig went into Bishops House where we are planning to lead a group visit in September - an unexpected thread of continuity.

We have had many more personal Iona experiences, including a retreat led by Kenneth Steven, the well known Scottish poet and then last year joining Author’s Week at the Abbey run by the community which led to the publication of this download. Hence my delight on this special occasion. It feels poignant too, in that we very nearly didn’t get to the Author’s week as a hideous cough, the first evidence of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, made travelling to the island feel an almost impossible challenge. But we got there and then later travelled on by bus to Inverness to spend time with one of the friends who earlier travelled with us to Iona. And today, now sandwiched between chemotherapy and radiotherapy, is part of the outcome of that trip, for which I am immensely grateful.

If you would like to see details of the download - and even, perhaps, purchase it (for only £2-20 +VAT), you can find it HERE. I personally would much appreciate your interest and you will also be supporting The Iona Community’s magnificent work which you can find summarised HERE. They, too, will be delighted to receive your support through a purchase. For some people, the download may be of particular interest as it has a description of a very simply organised Easter Day children’s/ congregational activity which involves the giving of Rosemary to the congregation as a representation of the spices the women carried to Jesus’tomb.(Hence the title of the download)

My Iona collection of poems can be found by clicking HERE

Friday, 17 March 2017

Looking Forward to Easter: ‘Paschale'


Having been shown this Zurbaran picture some time ago, in a slide set by one of our former Vicars, you will probably not be surprised it ‘stayed with me’. The picture is entitled ‘Lamb of God’ and eventually gave rise to this poem.


Paschale.
Whoever heard of a sacrificial lamb fighting back?
Normally they just bled and died.

But this one, this Paschal Lamb
transformed the Temple's butchery block
into a field of glorious conquest,
conquering the sin, the hate,
and the devilification
that had been laid upon him.

For, on a cheerless Sabbath night,
flayed, pierced, pinioned;
unquestionably dead
from a shameful spit hanging,
laid upon a slab of stone:
he triumphantly, gloriously
broke free of every natural constraint,
whilst earth trembled with awe
as it was touched by heaven.

Death and sin, he demonstrated
to a sick and troubled world
could not hold him.

Death and sin he demonstrated
to a sick and troubled world
could not hold us!

From his eternal throne,
‘Arise, my friends’, he cries, ‘Arise!’

‘You who have been faithful,
like the women who watched,
waited and discovered my empty tomb, arise’

‘I have fought death, I have fought sin
I have conquered.’

‘And my beloved flock, the triumph is for you.
Arise!’

You will find other Lent, Holy Week and Easter poems, songs and meditations HERE

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Greetings From a Nephew

Words! Dictionaries around our home - see footnote.
It goes without saying that I love words: I would hardly run a blog of this kind unless I did! Part of the joy of writing is to find the wording that exactly describes the idea you want to convey – and that is not always easy, particularly if the words needed feel outside the realm of day-to-day vocabulary. Thankfully, it is often possible to use verse to weave together words that would feel uncomfortable in a prose piece and to enjoy it when others have done the same, to moving effect.

So I, my brother and sister-in-law and several others were delighted to be sent the following short verse by my nephew, who made a fleeting visit from Vancouver to the UK at the end of last year to celebrate his mum’s ‘big 0’ birthday - and managed to spend time with a number of friends and family before jetting off again.

I’m delighted that Simon is happy to have his verse reproduced here. Thank you Simon.

We walk so briefly
Upon this earth,
Mere moments in the enormity of time.

To have the accompaniment of you on this jaunt
However momentary,
Makes the stars a little brighter,
The wondrous that much more wonderful.


©Simon Thorn 2017

The dictionaries pictured above are a 1773 Johnson’s Dictionary (2 volumes bound together): a 1932 edition of The New English Dictionary (Odhams): an Oxford Illustrated Dictionary of 1975 (Book Club Association edition) and a 9th edition Concise Oxford Dictionary of 1995.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Creation Sunday: A Celebration of the Universe, the Solar System and Genesis 1

We had an enjoyable All-Age service last Sunday with a simple illustration of the vastness of the Solar system - and some further brief thought about the scale of the Universe. Then, we explored the opportunity we have as Christians to celebrate both of those and the wisdom of Genesis 1 together.

A very simplified model of the Sun (a cheap lightweight football, part painted over with acrylic paint) was placed on the pulpit. Then very basic models of the larger planets were handed to each of the children brave enough to volunteer ‘to show the rest of the congregation something of special interest’.

The planets were made up, to illustrate their size compared to that of the football sun, and made from
·      Painted marble-size cotton balls for Earth and Venus
·      Painted ping-pong ball size cotton balls for Jupiter and Saturn (with a cardboard ring system glued on to the latter)
·      and garden seeds Sellotaped on to small pieces of card labelled (1)Mercury, (2)Mars and (3)Pluto (The seed representing the planets’ sizes although should be even smaller i.e. a grain of sand) .

The children with Earth, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn each walked round the church to show the congregation their comparative sizes, whilst Mercury, Mars and Pluto were given to another child to hand to three members of the congregation to pass around among themselves.

The children returned from their walks and it was then explained where they would have to go to represent the circuit of their planet on the scale of ‘our’ football/sun.

Mercury – 42ft – to the back of our pews (to my delight when I asked ‘Who’s holding Mercury?’ (one of the seeds on a card) it had conveniently reached the back row and was being held by a new visitor to the church))
Venus – 76 ft – to the back of the church. Venus was duly carried there.
Then an explanation only that
·      Earth -106 ft – would be 30 feet further in the churchyard
·      Mars - 163 ft – would be ‘by the war memorial’
·      Jupiter – 552 ft – would be 3 football pitches away
·      Saturn -1012 ft – down by the river (at which point, the personable young girl holding Saturn protested ‘I’m not going there!’ to the amusement and delight of the congregation)
·      Pluto – 4200ft – up to the bridge over our main arterial road
It was then explained that this vast system is only one of billions of billions of similar systems throughout the whole Universe. At this point, I referred to the song ‘The Bible Starts with Parable’, and used the words as the basis for the rest of the short talk. The first verse celebrates the wisdom of the Genesis Stories: then the second half of the three verses celebrates the miracle of the creation of the whole Universe as God’s work. (Click Here to view the song)


This needed a bit of preparatory work, which it was emphasized was all very approximate. But from remarks afterwards, it was felt to be thought-provoking, much enjoyed by both children and adults and gave at least some people, a fresh perspective. Just how great is your God?

Friday, 3 February 2017

We Are Living! Celebration post for a Celebration day (Sing of God and Science 6)

πŸ˜„                            πŸ˜„
  πŸ˜„                       πŸ˜„
    πŸ˜„      πŸ˜„       πŸ˜„
      πŸ˜„ πŸ˜„ πŸ˜„ πŸ˜„     E   ARE    LIVING!
        πŸ˜„         πŸ˜„  

This is a special post to the collection of Assembly-friendly songs on this blog, entitled ’Sing of God and Science’, written mainly for primary schools and groups working with children of those ages. It celebrates our going to Lambeth Palace TODAY for a reception of the latest round of grant recipients under the ’Scientists in Congregations’ programme - and we are one of them!

The grant is to enable us to work with the church schools in Ely Diocese (of the Church of England) to develop a songbook to be called by the same name as the collection referred to above. It is planned that it will have about 30 songs and a number of these will be written by schools themselves. We hope it will be available nationally later this year.

Some of the songs will be performed by schools at the Science Festival in Ely cathedral in May. They will then be videoed and put up on a dedicated You-Tube channel. I’ll keep you in the picture.

So to celebrate the day, here is a VERY simple song sung to the tune of ‘London’s Burning’ and will hopefully be manageable by very young children.

We are living! 
We are living!
Let’s be thankful,
Let’s be thankful
For food ,
and air,
And clean water,
and clean water.

This introductory part collection of ‘Sing of God and Science’ songs can be found HERE

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

First Light

With the days lengthening, first light in our east-facing bedroom window is at a gentle time - but still sometimes a challenge, as this short poem reflects. 



Glimmering rays
stream through
a crack in my curtains, 
to rest upon my unseeing eye.

I prise open
a single lid
to be startled by glory.

Over a further 
half-hour of struggle,
(and sometimes longer)
I repeat the exercise,
again and again,
gradually delighting more
at the myriad changes
in an exquisite sliver of sky-scape.
Time has come to embrace my day
and place it in the hands of God.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Full Moon Rises, Huge and Bright (Sing of God and Science No 5)

This short, simple song, using a very familiar hymn tune, aims to engage young children with a curiosity as to why something happens - and still, even today, leaves a question mark!

Full Moon Rises Huge and Bright

  

Full  moon rises huge and bright,
In the East, a glorious sight.
    God’s great wonders still endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

That same night it’s way up high,
Seeming smaller in the sky.
Chorus

Why the difference to our eye?
Ah! It’s still a mystery.
Chorus

Maybe soon, a clever brain
Will explain this vision strange.
Chorus


Other 'Songs of God and Science' suitable for Assemblies and All Age services can be found HERE. More will be added to this selection in Spring 2017.



Wednesday, 21 December 2016

It Really Isn’t Odd (That Scientists Think About God - Sing of God and Science 4)



With term ended, some teachers will already be looking at their plans for next term: this is the fourth ‘Sing of God and Science’ song. I hope it will be usable in Key Stage 1 Assemblies and with children of a similar age elsewhere - and I hope they enjoy singing it

It Really Isn’t Odd (That Scientists Think About God)

Pupil or small number read out a very simple science statement each starting
‘Scientists can help us understand how…
·      Ice turns to water when it gets warmer’
·      Light bends in water
·      How our lungs use the air we breathe

Then class/ choir sings



It really isn’t odd
That scientists think about God,
For they’re looking at the facts
Of just how matter acts.
Yes! They’re bound to think about God.

This happens 3 or 4 times over.


More ‘Sing of God and Science’ songs can be found HERE.

More will be added to this selection in Spring 2017.



Thursday, 1 December 2016

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS AND LINKS TO ALL THE NEWLY PUBLISHED CAROLS ON THIS BLOG SINCE ITS START

AN ANGEL TOLD SHEPHERDS WITH GREAT, GREAT JOY (CAROL) (Click here)
A simple-to- learn children's carol which tells of the birth of Jesus and the Salvation story

AT BETHLEHEM IN BORROWED CATTLE STALL (CAROL) (Click here):
 A carol based on the beautiful French folksong Plaisir D'Amour with a fanfare chorus based on the magnificent  Isaiah prophecy "Wonderful, Counsellor... 


BEFORE THE CREATION, THE WORD WAS WITH GOD (HYMN) (Click Here)
A sung version of The Christmas Gospel (John 1. 1 - 15). Sing it  to the tune 'To God be The Glory


BE STILL, SMALL EARTH (CAROL) (Click Here),
also known as 'A Carol of the Cosmos' as it celebrates the cosmic disturbances that marked the birth of Jesus. This is written to be sung to the hymn tune from Finlandia (Please observe the copyright note printed with this carol).


GO TO NAZARETH MY GREAT MESSENGER (CAROL) Click Here Imagines God instructing His Angels from The Annunciation to the warning to Joseph to flee with his new family to Egypt. Lively dance-style tune.

OVER PLAINS OF ARABIA ONE CRYSTAL NIGHT (STAR OF JUBILEE) Click HereStory of the Star sung to the Shaker Tune used for Sidney Carter’s 'Lord of the Dance’

PRAISE THE CREATOR GOD Click Here
Hills of The North Rejoice reframed to start with creation and build to the crescendo of Advent.

STABLE TALK (This Mangers Well Made) - Click HERE
A new carol that gives Joseph a ‘voice’ in the stable as he imagines the future for his new-born son

STARS AND PLANETS SING YOUR GLORY  (HYMN) (Click here).

This hymn of praise, (can be sung ‘Lux Eoi’ (preferred tune) or to the Beethoven tune used for 'Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee’ or another 8.8.8.8 tune) is suitable as a Christmas hymn but can also be used at other times to celebrate Christ as the Lord of the entire cosmos.


STAR OF HIGH HEAVEN by John B Hobbs (Click Here)
Children’s Carol for the Epiphany to the Low German Folk tune Dat Du min leefste best’.

VIVID WINTER'S MORN (CAROL) (Click here)
This carol is intended to be played and sung in rock style

Whilst this post consists of all the contemporary Carols published on this blog, there are also childrens Christmas activities on this blog which you can access by clicking HERE

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Advent: Waiting

Quell my impatience, Lord,
as we enter this time of waiting.
Captivate my soul, so I yearn
to conquer the spirit of the age
which ever strives for the next,
and the next, and the next.

Still me, so I can empty my mind
of the siren voices
that would have me travel with them
this way and that.           
To exotic destinations;
to imagined riches;
to perfections of the body;
to extremes of luxury;
to enticements of novelty.

Then, in the silence, Come.
Steal beautifully into my waiting
and suffuse my whole being
with the calm of Your presence,
so I may contemplate
the glory of your coming
as a child, as a servant King,
as Redeemer of the world.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Other Advent items, together with 12 contemporary carols can be found HERE


Thursday, 10 November 2016

Sing of God and Science (Sing of God and Science 3)


Here’s the ‘banner song’ for the Assembly-friendly and All Age, Science and Faith songs. I hope it’s really helpful in showing Science and Faith as partners in revealing the sheer Awe and Wonder of God’s Universe.
Sing it to the tune of ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’.

Sing of faith and science,
Two ways to understand
The glory of God’s universe,
The wonder of his plan:
The living and the fossil,
The sky, the sea, the air,
The beauty that surrounds us
And his love, our hope, his care.

Sing of faith and science,
Two ways to understand
The glory of God’s universe,
The tiny and the grand.
The vastness of creation,
The world of DNA,
The puzzle of the dinosaurs
And life on earth today.

Sing of faith and science,
Two ways to understand
The glory of his universe,
God’s gift of Word and hand,
The streaming of creation
From nothing into now,
when science helps us understand
not ‘why?’ but often ‘how?’.


© Trevor Thorn: October 2016

This is one of a small collection of Faith and Science songs written to be Assembly and All-Age friendly. The collection can be accessed HERE. The collection will be expanded over the next few weeks and months.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Bottled Water (Double Horror)

This post is to mark the ratification of the Paris Climate Change deal - and suggests a simple change many of us could make to improve the precious ecosystem of our common home. Please relay to others who might be prepared to be thoughtful about this.


Bottled Water: A song about a double iniquity
Sing
This pricey bottled water
is the same as from the tap
- both of them are H2O
so why the costly gap?
The charge is for the bottles* which
at sea disintegrate
Into a billion fragments
Sealing shoals of fishes’ fates.

Then change rhythm and chant
Come on, buy a flask to fill as you need:
Your water stays cool; It's a save-the-earth deed.

Of course, further thought makes it clear that the premium price arises through marketing (puff), labeling (sometimes with questionable claims), and the infrastructure costs of moving heavy loads of water on roads and by other expensive transport means, rather than by the sensible practice of drinkable water being transferred from reservoir to tap by pipe wherever water is in adequate supply So that is what adds to the price of bottles, but I would suggest the poetic licence in the song is more justifiable than charging massively for such an often readily-available life-sustainer.

Other ‘Care of our planet/ our common home’ items can be found HERE.
More will be added to this selection in Spring 2017.

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'