Eucharistic hymn

This is your body, for your people giv’n,
We break the bread, and voice the sacred song;
Food of the angels, taste of highest heav’n,
crumbs dropped for all who fear we don’t belong:
We are your body, help us dare to share
all that we have, and offer all we are.

This is your blood, the pain that makes us whole
With love was pressed from this live-giving vine,
The smallest sip can warm the coldest soul,
And fill the human heart with fire divine:
We are your body, help us yearn to share
all that we have, and offer all we are.

We are your body, fed with heavenly food,
Washed through the blood that flows with heavenly love,
And then you send us, by that love renewed,
to find that earth is full of heav’n above.
We are your body, in your grace we share
all that we have, and offer all we are.

(Tune: Finlandia)

I wrote this one last month too, and forgot about it. Again, sorry.

No hymns

There has been talk of liturgical ways to respond to and reflect on Brexit. It’s hard to know what kind of hymns might be sung communally, with integrity, when we are so deeply divided.

So here are three of the five verses that I wrote to mark 100 years since the armistice, last year. Maybe they’re a start?

Hope for the world’s despair:
we feel the nations’ pain;
can anything repair
this broken earth again?
For this we pray:
in every place
a spark of grace
to light the way.

Wisdom for all who bear
the future in their hand,
entrusted with the care
of this and every land.
When comes the hour,
O Lord, we pray,
inspire the way
we spend our power.

Love for the human heart:
when hate grows from our fears
and inwardly we start
to turn our ploughs to spears.
Help us to sow
love’s precious seed
in word and deed,
that peace may grow.

It exists because God loves it

A painting based on Julian of Norwich’s vision of the hazel nut.

Hands holding a hazel nut

“In this vision he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought “What may this be?” And it was generally answered thus: “It is all that is made.” I marvelled how it might last, for it seemed it might suddenly have sunk into nothing because of its littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: “It lasts and ever shall, because God loves it.” 

St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)

You can read a brief biography of St Vincent de Paul and the readings set for today (27th September), when we remember his life and ministry, here.

If there was ever a saint who matched their set gospel reading, it is Vincent de Paul: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Vincent de Paul and his gospel reading invite us to look at others and see Christ, and not only to see Christ but to serve Christ – ‘just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ It is in so doing that we become more like Christ.  The subjects take on the character of their king.

This means, though, that we must also look at others and see ourselves – this is something that I became real for me on a prison placement while I was an ordinand.  It is in seeing the Christ in those in need or in those who we find difficult or strange or disturbing that we start to be able to see the Christ in ourselves, not only out of empathy (note the similarity between the gospel reading’s ‘I was hungry, I was thirsty’ and the #Iam solidarity hashtags that have been around since the Charlie Hebdo massacre) but out of an awareness of our common humanity, our common belovedness in the sight of God .  We might think of the great commandments: ‘love God and love your neighbour as yourself’ for it is in love of neighbour that we understand what it is to be loved, and to see ourselves and our neighbour alike truly as beloved of God.

Meanwhile, if we, like Vincent de Paul, were to live out this gospel fully it explodes beyond the individual, and becomes a way for us to participate in the building of the kingdom of God, in which the chasms that are so often fixed in this world between the privileged and the not-priveleged might start to be broken down in preparation for the radical equality of the kingdom of God. What we do right now to join in with this work both brings earth nearer heaven, and prepares us for it.

This is how Vincent de Paul lived, and these are the kingdom values which we are invited, or rather commanded, to live out here in Westcott, in this city of Cambridge, and beyond.


A hymn – really a prayer. Because of everything that’s just too awful in the world right now.

I couldn’t sleep. Too many fears and tears for such a broken world.
So I wrote this as a prayer, to the tune Kings Lynn (aka O God of earth and altar) – though any suitable sombre 7676D tune would work..
As with all my hymns, please do just help yourself: share, sing, print, whatever’s helpful.

O God of all salvation
In this, our darkest hour,
Look down at your creation
With pity and with power.
In all the pain we’re seeing,
For parent, partner, friend,
We’ll cling with all our being
To love that cannot end.

O God, your loving passion
Is deeper than our pain,
Look down, and in compassion
Bring us to life again.
When we are found despairing,
When all seems lost to sin,
We’ll hear your voice declaring
That love alone will win.

O God, when hate grows stronger,
With fear to pave its way,
The cry, ‘Lord, how much longer?’
With broken hearts we pray.
In all that is dismaying
In humankind’s freewill,
We’ll join our voices, praying
That love will triumph still.

O God, whose love will never
Be silenced, stalled or stilled,
Set us to work wherever
There’re bridges to rebuild.
We’ll take our life’s vocation
To make, like heav’n above,
In this and every nation
A kingdom built on love.

(c) Ally Barrett 2016