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Buxton Festival

Choral Eucharist sung to Mozart's 'Sparrow' Mass in St John's Church during the Buxton Festival. The celebrant is the Rev John Hudghton, and the preacher is Canon Stephen Shipley.

Choral Eucharist in St John's Church during the Buxton Festival sung to Mozart's 'Sparrow' Mass in C K.220 by the Buxton Madrigal Singers and soloists from the Festival Opera Company directed by Michael Williams. The Celebrant is the Rector of Buxton, the Revd John Hudghton, and the Preacher is Canon Stephen Shipley. Producer: Rowan Morton-Gledhill.

38 minutes


Radio 4 Opening Announcement:
BBC Radio 4.  And now it’s time for Sunday Worship recorded at the beginning of the Buxton Festival earlier in July. The Eucharist, which took place in St John’s Church, was sung to Mozart’s so-called ‘Sparrow’ Mass in C by the Buxton Madrigal Singers with soloists from the Festival Opera Company.  The celebrant was the Rector of Buxton, the Revd John Hudghton, and the preacher was Canon Stephen Shipley.   The service begins now with the hymn: ‘God of mercy, God of grace.’

Hymn:           God of mercy, God of grace,                           (Tune: Heathlands)

God of mercy, God of grace,

Welcome by the Revd John Hudghton

Once again it’s our privilege and joy to welcome you to our delightful town of Buxton nestling on the edge of Derbyshire’s Peak District.  The Buxton Festival and Fringe draw in thousands of visitors each year and we’re particularly pleased that every Sunday morning during the Festival, St John’s Church is packed with worshippers for our Choral and Orchestral Eucharists.  The theme of today’s service is God’s providential care.

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you:  And also with you.

Jesus said: ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me shall never walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.’  Let us therefore bring our sins into his light and confess them in penitence and faith.

Please sit quietly

Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy)                                                        Mozart    

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

Please stand
Gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the highest)                         Mozart 

The Collect
Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of the sinful: give us grace to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that in all the changes and chances of this fleeting world our hearts may surely there be fixed where lasting joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
Please sit

The New Testament Reading

A reading from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians:

We know that if the earthly frame that houses us today should be demolished, we possess a building which God has provided—a house not made by human hands, eternal, and in heaven.   In this present body we do indeed groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling; we yearn to have our heavenly habitation put on over this one— in the hope that, being thus clothed, we shall not find ourselves naked.  We groan indeed, we who are enclosed within this earthly frame; we are oppressed because we do not want to have the old body stripped off.   Rather our desire is to have the new body put on over it, so that what is mortal may be absorbed into life immortal.  God himself has shaped us for this very end, and as a pledge of it he has given us the Spirit.  (2 Corinthians 5: 1-5)

This is the word of the Lord: Thanks be to God.

Hymn:           God moves in a mysterious way                                                       (London New)    
Please stand
Please remain standing

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John:
Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’  (John 14: 1-6)

This is the Gospel of the Lord:       Praise to you, O Christ.

The Sermon – Canon Stephen Shipley                        
Please sit

May my words and the thoughts of all our hearts be always acceptable to you, O Lord our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.

‘God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.’

There’s a story of a priest who was sitting at his desk composing a sermon about providence when there was a loud explosion.  A dam had burst, the river was flooding and people were being evacuated.  As the water began to rise, the priest was determined not to panic.  ‘I shall stay right here and trust in the providence of God to save me.’  By the time the water reached the window, a boatload of people came by.  ‘Jump in, Father,’ they shouted.  ‘No, I trust in the providence of God to help me.’ He did climb up to the roof, however, and another boatload of people went by, urging him to join them.  Again he refused, and climbed up to the top of the chimney.  A motorboat was sent to rescue him.  ‘No thank you, Officer,’ he said.  ‘I trust in God.  He will never let me down.’ 

The priest subsequently drowned.  He went to heaven and the first thing he did was complain to God: ‘I trusted you!  Why did you do nothing to save me?’  ‘Well,’ said God, ‘I did send three boats, you know….’

Providence is an elusive word.  How can we believe in a God, let alone Providence, who allows people to be caught in the trap of events over which they have no control?  And God does nothing, or appears to do nothing.   What are we asking for?  A form of existence without pain – an easy-going life all the way?  We can’t imagine such a world – not this side of heaven.  It’s unrealistic.  And aren’t the people we admire most those who have battled against unbelievable odds?

There’ve been moments in my life when I’ve felt the intervention of something outside myself; when guiding thoughts have formed in my head; when I’ve been intensely aware of what I can only call the assurance of God.  I can’t prove it – that these experiences aren’t the unconscious fulfilment of my wishes or the working of my consciousness upon the chemical processes of the brain.  But I can claim that for me at least they’ve been providential moments.

For it’s often been said that though you can only live your life forwards, you can only understand it backwards.  As we grow older, we begin to see that there are certain people who’ve been absolutely central to our journey – people who’ve opened up some fresh new perspective on life, or who’ve just been there, at the right moment, to affirm us when things have been falling apart.   It’s to that journey, or rather towards its destination, that today’s Epistle, Gospel and Collect all point.  The Apostle Paul writes to his Corinthian friends about a new body that’ll replace our mortal body so that what is mortal will be absorbed into life immortal.  ‘God has shaped us for this very end,’ he says.  And in the Gospel, Jesus says: ‘Believe in God; believe also in me.  There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house….’

So why then does belief in Providence hold out?  First and foremost because of human experience.  The couple whom I saw recently before their wedding saying coyly: ‘We feel we were meant for each other.’  The man in the hospital bed suddenly taken ill and missing his appointment for a new job: ‘Maybe it all happened for a good purpose.’  The soldier who didn’t get hit in the fierce hail of bullets: ‘I guess none of them had my number on it.’ 

Belief in Providence also holds out because we can’t contemplate a God of love deliberately bringing about the misfortunes that sometimes fall our way.  We may rail against God, but we need to realise that much suffering in the world is caused by our own negligence, weakness and deliberate wrongdoing.

There's a third way though to try to understand the complexities of life.  God doesn’t stamp out the freedom of the human race.  Instead he uses it for his purposes to bring good out of evil.  This is what happened when Jesus was crucified.  God didn’t stop the terrifying course of events.  Jesus didn’t die from a terminal illness.  He was killed because he refused to compromise with evil or conform to the standards and values of the world.  But out of that utter tragedy came the resurrection, and with it the fervour and commitment that has sustained believers for two thousand years – people ranging from simple peasants to giant intellects.   And that for many is the greatest evidence that God exists.  It’s as if God in Jesus is saying: ‘I am like this.  I am so like this that, as far as you can understand, I am this.’

Yes, there are problems in plenty about the whole concept of Divine Providence, and when we’ve said all we can say, we have to concede that it’s a mystery.  God can’t be encompassed by the human mind.  But the striking things that happen in our experience from time to time – what we tend to call coincidences – are not to be denied.  They push us to hold on to the notion of Divine Providence and make us look again at the Cross, which is at the centre of our faith.   God can make even evil acts minister to his purpose of love for all humanity.  God is sovereign – but we still have our freedom.   Let’s cherish that freedom and give thanks to the God of love who entrusts us with it.  Amen.

Credo in unum Deum  (I believe in one God)                              Mozart                                           
Please remain seated

The Intercessions

Let us pray in the power of the Spirit to the God of love:

We pray for unity among all who follow the way of Jesus Christ; that in keeping our eyes fixed on him we may be enabled to dissolve barriers, to forgive and be reconciled through the healing power of accepting love.  Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all in positions of responsibility and leadership, both nationally and in our own neighbourhoods at this difficult juncture in our history.  Keep us all resolved to build communities and a nation on a foundation of mutual respect and common sense.  May we be led by your Spirit to make wise decisions and help create a humane and caring world.  Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

And we pray for our homes and families with their hopes and sorrows, difficulties and celebrations, for all on our minds who are suffering at this time.  We pray that all our relationships may be bathed in your love and compassion.  So we thank you for all the richness of this beautiful world, for the gift of life and time to spend; for the example and companionship of Jesus.  Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Please stand

The peace of the Lord be always with you: And also with you.

All exchange a sign of peace


Hymn:   Alleluia! sing to Jesus!                                       (Tune: Hyfrydol)

Please remain standing

Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God:
It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, it is our duty and our joy, at all times and in all places to give you thanks and praise, holy Father, heavenly King, almighty and eternal God.  Therefore with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we proclaim your great and glorious name, for ever praising you, and singing:

Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy)                                                                   Mozart
Please sit or kneel quietly

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who, in your tender mercy, gave your only Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there by his one oblation of himself once offered a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; he instituted, and in his holy gospel commanded us to continue, a perpetual memory of his precious death until he comes again.  Hear us, merciful Father, we humbly pray, and grant that we receiving these gifts of your creation, this bread and this wine, according to your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed body and blood;

Who, in the same night as he was betrayed, took bread and gave you thanks; he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.  In the same way, after supper, he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.   Amen.

Benedictus    (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord)        Mozart

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Happy are those who are called to his supper.

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.

Agnus Dei (O Lamb of God)                                                          Mozart

Christians of all denominations are invited to receive communion.  Please follow the direction of the stewards

Ave verum corpus (Hail true body)                                                        Mozart
Eternal God, comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken, you have fed us at the table of life and hope: teach us the ways of gentleness and peace, that all the world may acknowledge the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Father of all, we give you thanks and praise, that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home.  Dying and living, he declared your love, gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory.  May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life; we who drink his cup bring life to others; we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.  Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us, so we and all your children shall be free, and the whole earth live to praise your name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, establish, strengthen and settle you in the faith; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord: In the name of Christ.  Amen.

Organ Voluntary – Fugue in C, BWV 547          


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