I will sing with the Spirit
From All Saints Leighton Buzzard with Alexander, BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year 2020.
From All Saints Leighton Buzzard with Alexander, BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year 2020. Last July ten young people competed for the coveted title BBC Radio 2 and Songs of Praise Young Chorister of the Year. Today Sunday Worship visits the parish church where Alexander's family worships. A former cathedral chorister, you can hear Alexander's magical voice as soloist and with his parish choir - where he first started singing. Preacher: The Revd Cate Irvine; Director of Music: Paul Dickens; Producer: Ruth Thomson.
Opening Hymn: Christ Triumphant (Michael Saward)
Welcome from All Saints Church, Leighton Buzzard in the Ouzel Valley Team Ministry.All Saints is a remarkably large church for what must have been a small community when it was first built in the 13th century. This is the second church on the site and today it stands in the centre of a busy market town. Recently restored, in normal times, it buzzes with activity and welcomes many visitors. We have a strong choral tradition here and at the end of last year we were delighted that one of our choir, Alexander, was announced as the BBC Radio 2 young chorister of the year.
Now clearly these are not normal times, but like churches and other faith communities, up and down the country, we are finding ways to reach out and support each other and working with our wider community, connecting with those who would normally attend the various activities for church and community that take place within our building and sending out resources to help people with their prayers and reflections.
The service today has been recorded by our choir singing in their own homes, and the speech by individuals in Church, with the exception of a group of the children of key workers from Pulford Lower School who you’ll hear later on. This has all been drawn together to create this worship for you.
As we offer our worship today we will be celebrating the human voice and the ways it can be used in speech and song to build up others and to show God’s love.
Blessed is the Lord, for he has heard the voice of our prayer;therefore shall our hearts dance for joy and in our song will we praise our God. Amen
Our service continues as Alexander sings for us a setting of Psalm 16 verse 10 from Handel’s Messiah; a celebration of the resurrection life that we are all offered in Christ.
Anthem: From The Messiah ‘But Thou didst not leave his soul in hell’ (Handel)
Blessed are you, Sovereign God,king of the nations,to you be praise and glory for ever.From the rising of the sun to its settingyour name is proclaimed in all the world.As the Sun of Righteousness dawns in our heartsanoint our lips with the seal of your Spiritthat we may witness to your gospeland sing your praise in all the earth. Amen
With our hospitals and key workers feeling the strain of this pandemic more than ever and many people feeling despondent and isolated in this lockdown it is easy to loose heart. But one of the things that faith teaches is that small acts of kindness make a real difference. In this season of Epiphany when we celebrate the many ways that God’s presence is revealed to us, we can choose to reflect God’s love to the world around us through the choices that we make to keep other people safe.
The love we see revealed in the life of Jesus is that of costly self-sacrifice, but in it we are united with him and with each other. So as we all seek to take responsibility for our choices and actions we know that we belong together and belong to our God who is always with us and always faithful.
Now we have our first reading, from the first book of Samuel Chapter 3, beginning at verse 1…
First Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-10
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” ’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’
That reading was given by our head server at church, who is a former Head Teacher at Pulford Lower School, our church school which adjoins the churchyard.In response to the sense of God’s calling in our reading, one of the bubbles of the children of key workers at Pulford School have recorded for us the much loved hymn, “I the Lord of Sea and Sky”. You will also hear their responses to the gospel reading and the prayers which are both read by their Head Teacher, Mr Heather and were recorded in school.
Hymn: I the Lord of Sea and Sky (Daniel Schutte)
Second Reading: John 1:43-end
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’
Our gospel canticle is a setting of the song of Zechariah from Luke’s gospel.Gospel Canticle: Benedictus - Song of Zechariah
It is a real joy today to be celebrating human voices and the ways in which they help us to know God. The two readings that we have heard are both about God’s call, how we hear it and how we respond. And both show the importance of other people in helping us to both hear and understand God. They are good reminders that although each of us is unique with our own gifts and calling we also need those around us to help us explore our faith. In the story of Samuel as a boy, he is confused by the voice that he hears. He assumes, very sensibly, that it is the voice of Eli calling to him, and twice he goes through to see what Eli wants, only to be told he hadn’t been called. On the third time that Samuel comes to him Eli realises what is going on and tells Samuel to go and lie down again, but this time he tells him how to answer when the call from God comes. Samuel and Eli need each other to hear and to respond to God. Our gospel reading also shows how we need each other to share faith and encouragement. The call from Jesus comes to Philip as he says ‘Follow Me’. Then Philip goes and finds Nathaniel and passes on the call. ‘Come and see’ he says to a reluctant Nathaniel. But the conversation between the two men goes deeper still. It’s not just about their voices or their experience; they connect to the voices that have shaped their understanding through scripture. Philip says ‘we have found him, about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote’. They remind us that we have the wisdom and history of those that have known God throughout the ages. Their voices speak to us through the written word, and allow us to communicate across time and space. In our worship today we are also celebrating music, and the way that it enhances our faith and worship. I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who taught music at home, and an aunt who taught me to love poetry. Both loved all forms of human creativity and expression, so I grew up with the assumption that words and music give life, that they help us to understand the world, and to know God. In these days of lockdown I think that we have all had a stark reminder of the importance of voices for communication and connection. When you take away so many things that we all take for granted, the simple chance to speak to a friend or a loved one, whatever the physical distance, becomes very precious indeed, and perhaps more than ever we have discovered the power of human creativity to lift our spirits, to convey emotion, and to articulate the pain that we are feeling. The human voice is central to our faith and our worship, our sense of community through speech and music. It is another reminder of how much we need each other to share and reflect our faith. We respond to familiar words and listen to new ideas. We join our voices to those who have gone before us, and we say together words written thousands of years ago in other languages, and we sing. Like so many people I have sorely missed communal singing during the pandemic; there is nothing like that experience of raising your voice with others. It is such a powerful expression of belonging together. We have seen the support and joy that online choirs have given to people, to keep them going through the dark days. Singing is a reminder of how much we need each other – even the most amazing singer will need to work with others to make the best of their voice. And singers need other musicians to support and accompany them, composers to write music for them, conductors and directors of music to bring together the skills of individual musicians. And all of this before we even think about buildings where music is performed or recorded, or the tech that allows us to bring voices together even when we can’t meet in person, just as we’ve done today. And all those who work to capture music and share it using their own gifts and abilities. Whether singing is our gift or not, it brings joy and is part of our shared life. We need each other, and we need all the gifts that God gives us. Our voices are vital, and whether we are speaking of God, setting our faith to song, or using our skills to support others, we all have a choice: we can choose to be quiet, or we can choose like Eli and Philip to use our gifts, whatever they are. We can reflect God’s glory, give encouragement and support, bring understanding and build community, drawing others into Gods love. We may be at home, keeping others safe and protecting our communities, but we can still share the gifts of faith and hope, and the comfort that that brings. We can still hear the call of God’s voice in the voices of others, and we can respond to that call with our own voices, speaking to the world of God’s love. Amen.
As we reflect on the power of word and song we hear the anthem, I will sing with the Spirit, by John Rutter.
Anthem: I will sing with the Spirit (John Rutter)
Prayers: read by Pulford Lower School Head Teacher Mr Heather
Almighty God we lift your church to you this morning. At a time when there are so many restrictions on our lives we thank you that the channel of prayer is still open and that whether we are worshipping alone or with others you promise to graciously hear and answer. Holy God, you break into our lives in the birth of the Christ child,help us to see where you are at work todayand to share your love with all the world. Amen
We pray for the world and especially for all those who are involved with the challenge of defeating the corona virus. We thank you especially for the development and distribution of the vaccines so that lives might be saved. Holy God, you reveal yourself to the nations,guide all those who have power and influence by the light of your loveto live and work for your glory. Amen
Loving God, we pray for musicians, artists and performers at this time. We are grateful for modern technology which has enabled these talents to be shared in a period of lockdown. Holy God, you give us gifts with which to praise you and bring joy to others,may we worship you with all that we are and draw others into your light. Amen
Holy God, in Jesus you entered into our human life with all its frailty and suffering;be with all those who are sick, anxious or alone, give them your comfort, your peace and the healing that is your will for each one, and give wisdom and skill to those who care for them. Amen
Holy God, you promise eternal life to all those who trust in you, be near to those who are dying, and all those who mourn, especially those whose loved ones cannot be near them.We rejoice in our fellowship with the shepherds, the angels, the magi,and all the faithful who have walked this earth before us.In your unfailing love for us and for all people,hear and answer our prayers through your Son,our Saviour Jesus Christ,Amen.
Concluding our prayers of intercession BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year Alexander is joined by his sister Olivia as they sing the much loved anthem, Pie Jesu.
Anthem: Pie Jesu (Andrew Lloyd Weber)
The Lord’s Prayer:
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has 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 gloryfor ever and ever.Amen.
Our final anthem reminds us of the power of the words to shape and change lives, we hear Jesus speak to his friends, asking them to live lives of love and service for his sake, words that still speak to us today. I give to you a new commandment that you love one another.
Anthem: I give to you a New Commandment (Peter Nardone)
As our worship draws to a close, I pray that in this season of Epiphany we will see God revealed to us anew. May our ears be open to the many and varied voices that speak and sing to us of God, and may our hearts always be filled with the song of God’s praise.
Christ the Son of God perfect in you the image of his gloryand gladden your hearts with the good news of his kingdom;and the blessing of God almighty,the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spiritbe with you all, evermore.Amen.
Hymn: How shall I sing That Majesty (John Mason)
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