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40 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 29 July 2012

The opening of the Olympic Games is marked by a service from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Situated on the Olympic equestrian site and close to the Meridian marking the meeting of East and West, the Revd Canon Duncan Green - Head of Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Services for the Olympics, preaches on the coming together of nations and the power of change.

The service is led by the Chaplain of the Old Royal Naval College, the Revd Jeremy Frost with music from the Trinity Laban Chapel Choir, directed by Richard Tanner.

Producer: Mark O'Brien.

  • Sunday Worship - The Old Naval College, Greenwich - 29/07/12

    Please note:

    This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast. It may include editorial notes prepared by the producer, and minor spelling and other errors that were corrected before the radio broadcast.

    It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events.

    BBC Sunday Worship
    29th July 2012
    Live from
    The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

    The congregation remain seated

    The Choir sings

    Introit One great fellowship of love

    Words: William A Dunkerley (1852-1941) Music: Stuart Murray Mitchell (b.1988)

    Welcome and Intro The Revd Jeremy Frost, Chaplain

    Welcome to Sunday Worship, live from the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul here at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. London always feels like a global city, but more so than ever in these days, as we host the Olympic and Paralympic games. Athletes, reporters, spectators from every corner of the globe have gathered for the world’s greatest sporting event; and here in Greenwich, thousands of visitors are arriving in time for the equestrian events which will take place just across the road in Greenwich Park.

    And so, as the world comes to London, we have the opportunity to reflect on the diversity of our human family, on those things which can unite us across different cultures, languages and beliefs. And upon the possibility of transformation as we encounter those who with different experiences and perspectives.

    That music which we just heard was composed by Stuart Murray Mitchell, a choral scholar and post-graduate composer studying here in Greenwich at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. The text – ‘in Christ there is no east or west’ – is an appropriate one for Greenwich, home of course to the Prime Meridian, zero degrees longitude, where the eastern and western hemispheres converge.
    And those words remind us that no matter how many lines human beings may draw on maps, in Christ all divisions can be overcome. Building on this theme, our opening hymn is a prayer peace and harmony in our world – ‘For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord’.

    Stand to sing

    Hymn For the healing of the nations

    Words: Fred Kaan Music: RHUDDLAN

    Remain standing

    An Act of Praise (based on Psalm 145)

    Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised:
    there is no end to his greatness.
    All One generation shall praise your works to another,
    and shall declare your power.
    All creation praises you, Lord,
    and your faithful servants bless you.
    All They declare the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your mighty power.
    My mouth shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
    All Let every living thing bless his holy name
    for ever and ever.

    Remain standing


    Led by the Chaplain

    God our Creator,
    we pray for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
    We give thanks for the privilege of hosting them
    and the thrill of watching them;
    and we pray for all who are taking part.
    Give them courage and strength,
    wisdom and generosity.
    Make us warm in our welcome
    and generous in our hospitality.
    We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ,
    our teacher and our friend.
    All Amen.


    Old Testament Reading Isaiah 40. 27-31

    Read by Olivia Horsfall Turner

    Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
    ‘My way is hidden from the LORD,
    and my right is disregarded by my God’?
    Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    The LORD is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
    He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
    He gives power to the faint,
    and strengthens the powerless.
    Even youths will faint and be weary,
    and the young will fall exhausted;
    but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
    they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.


    In the coming days competing athletes will be pushing themselves to the limit in order to become, as the motto goes, “faster, higher and stronger”. And in the process there will be winners and losers, elation and disappointment. But Psalm 8, which the Choir will now sing, reminds us that humankind’s greatest accomplishment lies in acknowledging that we carry God’s own image within us, and that we are all therefore capable of being “crowned with glory and worship”.

    The Choir sings

    Psalm Psalm 8

    O LORD our Governor, how excellent is thy Name in all the world :
    thou hast set thy glory above the heavens!
    Out of the mouth of very babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies :
    that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
    For I will consider thy heavens, even the works of thy fingers :
    the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained.
    What is man, that thou art mindful of him :
    and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
    Thou madest him lower than the angels :
    to crown him with glory and worship.
    Thou makest him to have dominion of the works of thy hands :
    and thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet;
    All sheep and oxen :
    yea, and the beasts of the field;
    The fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea :
    and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the seas.
    O Lord our Governor :
    how excellent is thy Name in all the world!

    New Testament Reading Mark 12. 28-34

    Read by Antonio Joseph

    One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that [Jesus] answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.


    As I mentioned at the beginning, Greenwich is home to the Prime Meridian, the meeting place of East and West. In the next piece of music we hear that meridian line represented by a single constant note. The two flutes represent the two hemispheres, and alongside them we hear the choir singing the word for “peace” in many languages, as well as the text of the BBC’s own motto: “Nation shall speak peace unto nation”. When this piece has ended, the Revd Duncan Green, will bring us his reflections on the readings and on his own unique role as the Chaplain to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Anthem Meridian

    Nation shall speak peace unto nation

    Words: BBC motto (based on Micah and Isaiah) Music: Jeremy Frost (b.1974)

    Sermon The Revd Duncan Green, Chaplain to the Olympics
    I hope you enjoyed, as I did, the spectacular and dramatic Opening Ceremony on Friday. What a Show, what an event and what a start to the 30th Summer Olympic Games in modern times.
    The scale of these games is difficult to comprehend, unless you are involved in the organisation and even then its mind blowing.
    We may only see the Games on Television or read about them in the papers or, if we are lucky, watch a small portion of them live at one of the fantastic venues. So our understanding of the size and scale of the games is limited to these bite size chunks.
    The numbers are massive, 16500 athletes and officials, 26 sports, 39 disciplines, 34 venues, 200,000 staff and volunteers and over 20,000 media and broadcast personnel. Add to those numbers, the holders of 8 million tickets, the 10,000 involved in the ceremonies, the 500,000 people a day that will celebrate at 22 live sites and 47 big screens across the country, and the 2 million young people involved in the Get Set schools program and you just begin to get just a tiny glimpse of the scale and impact of the Games.
    Then, if you begin to look at the massive construction projects and the logistics of equipping the venues and accommodation, you begin to realise that everything from shuttlecocks to the 22,000 pillows had to be sourced, purchased, and be in the correct place at the right time,.
    It’s difficult, unless you spend time looking all the statistics, to get the big picture. Even the Athletes who are competing concentrate on their own sport and area of the games. It is only in the opening and closing ceremonies that they can see the numbers of fellow competitors all in one place and get the Big picture.
    Those who have been involved working for the Organising committee and been close to the Games have seen this picture grow like a jig saw, as through the years the various pieces have been put in place, the full picture has slowly and surely appeared. Along the way there have been many challenges and questions, all of them faced with enthusiasm and solved by working hard as a team.
    We haven’t been the only ones preparing. Each of the 10,500 athletes have been working and training for years for this chance to win an Olympic medal for their country. During the many 100s of hours of working through gruelling training schedules; each one, I am sure, has faced personal challenges, pain, and big questions about their ability, performance and self-belief.
    Each, through sheer hard work, determination and giving their all, along with the support of loved ones , trainers, team staff and their team mates, has overcome everything to be at their peak and represent their country at the London Olympic Games.
    In our reading from St Mark’s Gospel, we hear Jesus answering one of life’s big questions, put to him by a lawyer, ‘Which is the Greatest Commandment?’. In effect he’s saying, forget all the ceremony and rules and regulations, let’s get down to basics, What does God want me to do! How do I get to know him and enter his kingdom.

    Jesus replies with one of life’s big answers,
    Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, with all your mind and with all your strength;
    And love your neighbour as yourself...
    So, be open to God’s love in your life, respond to that love by total commitment , not just in your head. So many people know about God’s love shown to us in Jesus in theory, they have read the book or seen the films, they have heard and understood the message, but they don’t respond to it. It remains theoretical. What Jesus is saying is; we need to respond to what we hear and understand about God’s love, by opening our very being and loving God in return, not in a token way but with our heart, soul, mind and strength.
    As we do this, so our love for him will grow and deepen, as we realise his presence with us at all times and in all things, in Jesus.
    There will still be challenges and questions in our lives. We will still struggle to find the answers and, at times, to cope. But we will know the presence of God and have the assurance of his love in everything we do. I am often asked after a death or a tragedy, or a traumatic incident in someone’s life; Where is God in all this? The answer is simple he is here alongside you, supporting, loving, caring, and valuing you as his very own child.
    Jesus does not finish there with his answer, he goes on to say, Love your neighbour as yourself. Once you have experienced God’s love and responded to it in a personal way, you will want to show that love in the world by the way you love and serve others.
    Among those working to make the Olympic Games a success are 70,000 volunteers. The members of the multi faith chaplaincy team are part of that number. There are over 100 chaplains serving across all the different areas of the Games. The Christian chaplains have met many Christian folk in the volunteer force who have given up their time and, in some cases, holiday to live out their faith loving and serving others who are working and participating in the Games.
    As Christians, we don’t have to be in full time ministry to reach out to others, people will notice the way you value and respect them whoever they are, whatever they do. They will recognise the real love you have for others and that that love is deeper than human love. Through you, they will experience God’s love in their lives.
    The Lawyer who asked Jesus the question, knew what he had to do in theory. Jesus told him, You are not far from the Kingdom of God. He needed to be open to God’s love and respond by loving God in return with his body heart and mind and reflect that love in the world.

    I pray that what we hear and understand about the love of God shown to us in Christ Jesus, we may believe in our hearts and show forth in our lives.

    Stand to sing

    Hymn CHRIST is the world’s true light,

    Words: George Wallace Briggs (1933) Music: NUN DANKET



    The Revd Dr Susan Blackall, who works here at the Chapel in Greenwich, is also part of the Olympic Chaplaincy team, and is based throughout the games at the Media Centre, working to support journalists and broadcasters from around the world. Susan will lead our prayers this morning:

    Intercessions led by the Revd Dr Susan Blackall, Assistant Chaplain

    Let us pray

    A prayer for London

    Gracious God,
    whose Son offers his saving love and peace to all people,
    we pray for London,
    as our city welcomes the people of the world to the Games,
    giving thanks for its long history
    and dazzling diversity,
    and its warm embrace to many,
    that you will grant enrichment and friendship
    to all who visit and receive hospitality,
    that the world may be sustained
    in its journey towards tolerance,
    understanding and peace.
    All Amen.

    Sung refrain: Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.
    Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.

    A prayer for people who will travel

    Gracious God,
    whose Son travelled as a refugee
    and walked the streets of Jerusalem as a pilgrim,
    we pray for all who travel to the London Games:
    for competitors and coaches, cleaners and caterers;
    for umpires and judges, city guides and security guards;
    for audiences and volunteers,
    that you will grant them safe travel
    and journeys filled with enriching encounter.
    All Amen.

    Sung refrain: Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.
    Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.

    A prayer for the athletes :

    Gracious God,
    who created humanity in your image
    and who delight in the talent, skill and flair you have given us:
    we pray for the athletes taking part in the Games,
    that you will give determination and equity to all competitors,
    gratitude and humility to winners,
    grace and generosity to those who do not come first,
    and thankfulness and admiration in observers;
    that in all our best efforts
    your creation may be glorified.
    All Amen.

    Sung refrain: Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.
    Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.

    A prayer for the security services :

    Gracious God,
    whose Holy Spirit guards and sustains us day and night,
    we pray for all those working to keep the Games safe for all,
    especially the military, police and the security services;
    that these lands may be seen as a beacon of hope
    and an ambassador of peace and justice.
    All Amen.

    Sung refrain: Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.
    Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.

    A prayer for those suffering in other places :

    Gracious God,
    who know the needs of every person in every place,
    we pray for those whose suffering the world forgets,
    that you will be with those who are afraid, hungry, homeless or alone
    or for whom this is a time of grief, regret and disappointment,
    and that while the world watches us,
    you will watch over the lands and peoples
    where injustice, disease and violence compete.
    All Amen.

    Sung refrain: Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.
    Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.

    [*A prayer for ourselves and our own contributions :

    Gracious God,
    whose son came to serve and not to be served,
    we pray for ourselves,
    that you will inspire us with your Holy Spirit
    to serve others according to your will and purpose,
    with humility, compassion and love,
    serving you in them,
    until our duty is done and we may rest in your loving arms. Amen. ] (*omit this if we need to save time)
    Sung refrain: Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord.
    Sing praises all you peoples, sing praises to the Lord. (x2?)
    We join all of our prayers together in the words that Jesus himself taught us, saying

    All Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
    on earth as in heaven.
    Give us today our daily bread.
    Forgive us our sins
    as we forgive those who sin against us.
    Lead us not into temptation
    but deliver us from evil.
    For the kingdom, the power,
    and the glory are yours
    now and for ever. Amen.


    Continuing our theme of unashamed and universal praise, the choir now sings Ralph Vaughan Williams’ setting of George Herbert’s words, ‘Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and king!’

    Anthem Let all the world in every corner sing,

    Words: George Herbert (1593-1633) Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

    At the heart of our worship this morning has been the prayerful longing for harmony and understanding across every part of our human family. As violence and injustice continue to thrive on the streets of Syria, and in the countless broken places of our world, it is so tempting to give up hope and to abandon any efforts of building trust and cooperation. But when different nations and cultures encounter one another, positive transformation is possible. And our prayer has been that these Olympic and Paralympic games, here in this truly global city, might be contested, watched, supported and managed with a spirit in respect and dignity, and might thereby be a inspirational sign of harmony and reconciliation to people everywhere.

    Wherever you will be, as you follow the many exciting events of the coming days, may God renew your hope and trust for the future of our world.

    Stand to sing

    Hymn ALL my hope on God is founded;

    Words: Robert Bridges (1844-1930) Music: MICHAEL

    Blessing given by the Chaplain

    Go forth into the world in peace;
    be of good courage;
    hold fast to that which is good;
    render to no one, evil for evil;
    but strengthen the fainthearted;
    support the weak; help the afflicted;
    honour all; love and serve the Lord,
    rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
    And the blessing of God Almighty,
    the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
    be among you, and remain with you, now and forever.
    All Amen.

    Organ Voluntary


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