Noye’s Fludde

We were in for another musical treat by Benjamin Britten, this time ‘Noye’s Fludde’, which was performed at St Woolos Cathedral. It was my first day in Newport after moving house from Cardiff and what an exciting introduction. Both adults and children participated in a colourful and dynamic performance. The Dean played the voice of God. It was spiritually uplifting and the final applause went on and on. 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Benjamin Britten’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was performed at Snape Maltings concert hall, not far from Aldeburgh (countertenor Iestyn Davies was brilliant). Britten, in this Shakespearean piece, is a master in drawing out God’s Nature, what Shakespeare elsewhere called ‘the powerful grace that lies in herbs, plants and stones’. And then we walked outside during the interval and saw an unusual midsummer night’s moon. The low lying full moon looked a bit like Saturn because a wispy cloud had passed in front of it.

Knowing the World

We draw near to the end of Christian Aid Week. It’s all about refugees this year. Christian Aid’s very inception in 1945 was based on a desire to tackle the mass displacement of peoples across wartorn Europe. Plus ca change: it’s the Middle East today. At a secondary school last week I talked to a class of pupils about the world and tested their knowledge of global troublespots. They were indeed knowledgeable about places like Iraq, Syria, Cambodia and Myanmar (see pic of prayer corner we devised with countries on the balloons). I remember learning about the world when I pored over an atlas and then took a capitals’ test at school, I managed to score 99/100, failing to give the correct capital of Haiti:I wrote Prince-au-Port rather than Port-au-Prince! (Excuse my French). If we know the world we can better pray for it.

A Good Friday

There are so many rich spiritual experiences to be had on Good Friday in Cardiff. I went to three and this was only a sample. In the morning at St John Baptist City Church the local artist Wendy Roberts had prepared halftone screen prints depicting a number of Stations of the Cross and we meditated on them. In the afternoon, I pondered upon some edifying words by the Dean at Llandaff Cathedral on the seven utterances of Christ on the cross. And in the evening I listened to the choir and orchestra of St Edward’s Church Roath give a solid rendition of Faure’s Requiem. By the end of the day you knew what was meant by Good Friday. 

The Gifts and the Fruits

In this season of Lent I am offering some Llandaff Cathedral parishioners a

supplementary Lent course on the theme of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. We will be meditating in a small group on the some of these: wisdom (week 1), courage (week 2), patience (week 3), and joy (week 4) How far can we hope to be invested with these in our lives? 

Neither East nor West

When you are in Berlin you do feel that you are at the centre of world events. Germany’s Nazi past made it so in the early twentieth century; the Berlin Wall made it the centrepiece of the Cold War in the second half of the same century; and now the German Chancellor Merkel who is based in the capital holds the political cards for the survival of the European Union as we know it. It is a city that is used to being challenged, creative, unsettled, resilient, determined. It is above all a city that has reinvented itself as a standard-bearer of world peace. This message runs through all the museums and exhibitions I visited: a genuine plea that war should never happen again. 

The Sweeper

img_3575It is difficult to pinpoint what an Archbishop’s Chaplain actually does, because such a role is so varied. In my case I could be researching a piece on a Welsh saint one minute, and then driving the Archbishop to a churchwide meeting somewhere in Wales the next. When people ask me what I do I usually use the sporting analogy of curling. The Archbishop will guide the granite curling stone down the icy curling sheet towards its intended destination. I am like one of the sweepers, going ahead to ensure the Skip’s plans are well implemented, sometimes brushing ferociously with the sweeping brush to reduce any unforeseen icy bumps. The stone should land on its target. One of the privileges of the job was to carry the Primatial Cross, which is always carried in front of the Archbishop at major services. This was always an enjoyable manoeuvre, without any need to sweep. As the Archbishop’s last chaplain (he had five over 14 years) I wish Archbishop Barry a deserved and joyful rest following his distinguished service to the Church in Wales.

 


Photos

The Doors of the Ashmoleum

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