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'Love one another'. Worship and reflection from St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast.

“Love one another”
Rev Martin Whyte, the Permanent Deacon at St Peter’s Cathedral in Belfast reflects on Jesus words in the Upper Room when He told his apostles to love one another so that the world would know that they followed Him.

John 13:31-35

Jesus lives, thy terrors now
Psalm 118
The Easter Hymn of praise – Richard Shephard

Jesus Christ is risen again
God so loved the world - Stainer

Love divine all loves excelling

The service led by Father Martin Graham and music comes from the St Peter’s Schola Cantorum, directed by Stephen Hamill.
Producer: Bert Tosh

38 minutes

Last on

Sun 19 May 2019 08:10


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.<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

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 Radio 4. At ten past eight it’s time for Sunday Worship which comes from Northern Ireland.



O sing a new song to the Lord, for he has worked wonders;

in the sight of the nations he has shown his deliverance, alleluia.



Good morning and thank you for joining us for this morning’s Service from Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Belfast, the mother church of the Diocese of Down and Connor. The diocese stretches down the eastern side of Northern Ireland and comprises all of County Antrim, most of County Down and a little bit of County Derry.


My name is Father Martin Graham and I am Administrator of the Cathedral Parish. I am joined this morning by our preacher, Rev. Martin Whyte, deacon of the Parish and the music is provided by the Cathedral Schola Cantorum.

Our liturgy this morning is based on an ancient prayer of the Church called Terce, one of the hours of the Divine Office



O God, come to our aid.

O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory be to the Father...

As it was in the beginning...Amen. Alleluia.



Jesus lives thy terror now



When I was just ordained I was curate in Saint Paul’s Parish, right beside my current parish. Each morning, at the end of Mass, my Parish Priest would offer this prayer to begin the new day.


God of my life, I welcome this new day. 
It is Your gift to me –

the first day of the rest of my life.
I thank You for the gift of being alive this morning.
I thank You for the sleep which has refreshed me.
I thank You for the chance

to begin my life all over again.
 Lord, this day is full of promise and of opportunity,
 Help me to waste none of it.
This day is full of mystery and of the unknown.
 Help me to face it without fear or anxiety.
This day is full of beauty and adventure.
 Help me to be fully alive to it all.
 During this day, may I become,
a more thoughtful person, a more prayerful person, 

a more generous and kindly person. 
 Lord, bless this day for all of us.



A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Paul and Barnabas went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.


They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

The word of the Lord

Thanks be to God


PSALMODY                                                                                                                           Psalm 117 (118)

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,

for his love endures for ever.

Let the sons of Israel say:

‘His love endures for ever.’

Let the sons of Aaron say:

‘His love endures for ever.’

Let those who fear the Lord say:

‘His love endures for ever.’

I called to the Lord in my distress;

he answered and freed me.

The Lord is at my side; I do not fear.

what can man do against me?

The Lord is at my side as my helper;

I shall look down on my foes.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord

than to trust in men;

it is better to take refuge in the Lord

than to trust in princes.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world without end.




I mentioned in my introduction that this morning’s service is based on Terce from what is known as the Divine Office. It is one of seven times of prayer which “mark the hours of each day and sanctify the day with prayer” and Terce comes from the Latin for “three” and it marks the third hour, or 9am.


Priests, Deacons and the men and women of Religious Orders are bound to recite the Divine Office daily, as a whole or in part but other members of the faithful are warmly encouraged to take it up also, whether in groups or as individuals.


As Terce is quite a short service, we have made some adaptations and additions adaptations have been made; we are using today’s Epistle and Gospel.

The seven daily services are to a great extent built around the Psalter and the

psalm for this morning’s Office is one psalm, Psalm 117 divided into three parts. The Schola Cantorum will now continue singing this Psalm 



Psalm 117 (118)

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

The nations all encompassed me;

in the Lord’s name I crushed them.

They compassed me, compassed me about;

in the Lord’s name I crushed them.

They compassed me about like bees;

they blazed like a fire among thorns.

In the Lord’s name I crushed them.

I was thrust down, thrust down and falling,

but the Lord was my helper.

The Lord is my strength and my song;

he was my saviour.

There are shouts of joy and victory

in the tents of the just.

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;

his right hand raised me.

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;

I shall not die, I shall live

and recount his deeds.

I was punished, I was punished by the Lord,

but not doomed to die.

Open to me the gates of holiness:

I will enter and give thanks.

This is the Lord’s own gate

where the just may enter.

I will thank you for you have answered

and you are my saviour.

The stone which the builders rejected

has become the corner stone.

This is the work of the Lord,

a marvel in our eyes.

This day was made by the Lord;

we rejoice and are glad.

O Lord, grant us salvation;

O Lord, grant success.

Blessed in the name of the Lord

is he who comes.

We bless you from the house of the Lord;

the Lord God is our light.

Go forward in procession with branches

even to the altar.

You are my God, I thank you.

My God, I praise you.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good;

for his love endures for ever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world without end.


Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.


SECOND READING A reading from the Apocalypse

I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘You see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them; they shall be his people, and he will be their God; his name is God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone.’

Then the One sitting on the throne spoke: ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new’ he said. ‘Write this: that what I am saying is sure and will come true.’

The word of the Lord

Thanks be to God


SCHOLA  Jesus Christ is risen again



The Lord be with you

And with your spirit

A reading from Gospel of John

Glory to you Lord       

When Judas had gone Jesus said:

‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified,

and in him God has been glorified.

If God has been glorified in him,

God will in turn glorify him in himself,

and will glorify him very soon.

‘My little children,

I shall not be with you much longer.

You will look for me,

But where I am going, you cannot come.

I give you a new commandment:

love one another;

just as I have loved you,

you also must love one another.

By this love you have for one another,

everyone will know that you are my disciples.’


The Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ


SCHOLA  The Easter Hymn of Praise




A constant theme in John’s Gospel is the contrast between light and darkness. Light personified in Jesus and symbolising goodness, and darkness symbolising evil. The start of today’s reading might seem to set an almost gloomy tone. Judas has gone out, the implication being into the darkness of evil, on Holy Thursday night, with the purpose of betraying Jesus. Jesus tells the apostles “I shall be with you only a little longer” and “where I am going, you cannot come”. Their understandable confusion and sense of loss must have been devastating for them, whilst his calling them “little children” would have made his words even more poignant.

And yet, Jesus himself speaks of being glorified and God being glorified in him, so there seems to be an implicit contradiction in the first half of the passage today.

St. Maximus of Turin clarifies this apparent contradiction when he makes the key point that in this stage in salvation history it is night, but it is not that night is about to fall, rather he says, “Night is almost over; day is at hand….The coming of Christ’s light puts the darkness to flight… His everlasting radiance dispels the dark clouds of the past…”

This confrontation of light with darkness will actually bring about the total triumph of light and the destruction of all darkness. Jesus is aware that this moment of apparent victory for darkness is in fact “the beginning of its end”.

The text goes on: You will look for me, But where I am going, you cannot come.


The reason that the disciples will look for him but not be able to find him, does not refer to a victory for death, but to his journey and return to his Father in heaven. Rather than something to be sad about this is something which he is calling us to rejoice in. What Jesus is doing is actually paving the way home for each one of us, for all whom we love, for all of humanity and indeed for the whole of creation itself. 

What is it about Jesus that makes all this possible? Jesus’ relationship with the father is fundamental to everything he is and does. His appreciation of the father’s unconditional love for him fills Jesus with, such profound gratitude, that his only desire is to show love in return by doing his father’s will. It is this unity with God, “I and the Father are one”, which inspires, motivates and sustains Jesus.

Today’s gospel takes place at the Last Supper where Jesus’ commandment, that we love another just as he has loved us follows just after he has washed the apostle’s feet. This most humble of actions, the action of a servant, a slave, takes place, John tells us, in the context that, "Jesus knew that the father had put everything into his hands that he had come from God and was returning to God”. It is like a last will and testament. 

It must have been a real shock for the apostles to see Jesus, their Lord and master, undertaking such a demeaning activity. But Jesus explains,

"If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other's feet.” What Jesus is doing is bringing the Old Testament commandment to love God and our neighbour, into the fullness of its potential and meaning, to become all that it was meant to be. And that is what he means when he says , "I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you".

Although the apostles hear this commandment, following a menial yet shocking act of service, this is only the prelude to its full demonstration, which is about to take place in the betrayal, torture and crucifixion of total innocence. This love of Jesus will not be a superficial, tokenistic service, but one of profound self-sacrifice and concern for others. It will be a love of humble service emanating from a deep appreciation of how much we ourselves are loved by God, with a consequent total trust in him that leads us to be there for others, no matter what the cost.

This is a trust that, even in the darkest of places, when like Jesus we cry out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”, we still know we are held and loved. Loved to the point where, like Jesus, we can add, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Today’s gospel might initially seem a bit of a backward step in terms of Easter, but as a famous film once put it, it is more a case of “Back to The Future”. The readings in the Sundays ahead begin to point towards Pentecost and today’s reading gives a hint that the physical resurrection of Jesus and his entering into glory has a parallel which needs to take place in another form, for the second part of the reading is all about how his disciples will be known.

The great Jean Vanier, who passed away last week called his book on John’s gospel, “The Gospel of Relationship”. There is a sense in which Pentecost is the “resurrection” of the people of God in terms of their understanding of their relationship with God, with each other and with the practice of faith. Today’s gospel actually takes us back to the still centre, the fundamental concept on which the resurrection of Jesus himself, and the restoration of true worship and religious practice is founded, loving relationships, “…that you love one another. Just as I have loved you”.

Jesus tells us that if his followers, the Church, are really to live up to their role as the body of Christ, then every one of us has to enter into this resurrection relationship with God, which is acceptance of and trust in his love and the sharing of  it with others. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus’ promise to his apostles, “I am with you always,” has more than just a mystical or spiritual sense. We believe that Jesus is present this morning in the Scripture readings and in the Eucharist, but he is also present in the person of the priest and each one of us as members of the congregation, whether physically sitting here in the Church or listening at home. It can at times be a challenge to see the presence of God in each other, yet our belief is that his presence is real and should be tangible in this world.

For most people, it will be experienced, or not, through their interactions and relationships with others and that will often be in the smallest and apparently most insignificant of things. As J.R.R. Tolkien said through Gandalf, “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I find. It is small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

The challenge to us as God’s people is to live out our humanity in a way that transcends earthly existence and takes us back to the fullness of God’s plan for his people and creation. “I am with you always” , manifests itself in acts of kindness, service and love. As C.S. Lewis put it, “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” Why? Because our trust in God is a trust in his love, a remembrance of his service, crucifixion and resurrection which we make present every new day to our broken world.

Sometimes our actions can be demonstrably heroic. A lot of the time they are apparently small and insignificant, but as Mother Teresa tells us “It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.”



SCHOLA  God so loved the world  (Stainer)


FATHER MARTIN  God so loved the world, by Sir John Stainer



Let us pray to Christ, the source of life. God raised him from the dead; in turn, he himself will raise us to life by his power. We cry out to him:

– Christ, our life, save us.

Christ our Lord, you are the Head of your body, the Church and we are the members of that body:

           may we be witnesses to your word to everyone we meet.

– Christ, our life, save us.

Christ, you are the lightning that flashes across the darkness, the prince of life, the sanctifier of all that is mortal:

may we give you praise by the way we live our lives today.

– Christ, our life, save us.

Lord, you trod the path of the Passion and the Cross:

grant that we, suffering and dying with you, may also be resurrected with you.

– Christ, our life, save us.

You are the Prince of Peace:

give peace to our troubled world and give your children security of mind and freedom from harm.

– Christ, our life, save us.

Son of the Father, our teacher and our brother, you have made us a royal priesthood for our God:

may we joyfully offer you a sacrifice of praise.

– Christ, our life, save us.

Compassionate Saviour, you reached out to those in need:

help us to bring your compassion to the poor, the sick, the lonely and the unloved.

– Christ, our life, save us.

King of glory, we look forward to the day when you come again

to show us your face and make us be like you.

– Christ, our life, save us.

Eternal Shepherd, gather into your pasture those who have died:

may they rest in your peace in Paradise.

– Christ, our life, save us.



At the Saviour’s command, and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say:

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.



Since it is from you, God our Father,

that redemption comes to us, your adopted children,

look with favour on the family you love,

give true freedom to us and to all who believe in Christ,

and bring us all alike to our eternal heritage.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.




Thank you for joining us this morning from Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Belfast. On behalf of Deacon Martin, and Schola Cantorum I wish you all God’s blessings on this Sunday.



May almighty God bless you, the Father, the  Son and the Holy Spirit.




Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.


HYMN Love divine, all loves excelling (LOVE DIVINE Stainer)


Today’s Sunday Worship came from St Peter’s Cathedral in Belfast. It was led by Father Martin Graham and the preacher was Rev Martin Whyte. The Cathedral’s Schola Cantorum was directed by Stephen Hamill. The producer was Bert Tosh.


Next week The Revd Canon Dr Christopher Collingwood, an Anglican priest and Zen teacher, leads a reflection on the theme of Boundless Openness.  



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