First Draft: Hymns for Baptism (to well known tunes)

The problem with All Things Bright & Beautiful is that it is simultaneously loathed by anyone (lay and ordained) in the Church and loved fondly by those with only a peripheral connection; it speaks of a particular generation of Primary School and says nothing of either baptism or marriage (where they are frequently requested). This is the beginning of a process to reclaim the well-known tunes with words which speak to the pastoral office. It should be considered alongside these hymns for weddings (and this one) to well-known tunes.

Now, this is a very first draft, and I do not want to claim final overall ownership of what I would love to be a collaborative project. Before you simply comment ‘It doesn’t scan’ kindly suggest a change/rewrite and make it better, together. So, here’s a start…

to the tune of Morning has broken

Out of the waters
We come to salvation
In pure fresh water
We wash ourselves clean
Following Jesus
Ever hereafter
A new beginning
A new life to lead

The oil of baptism
the cross on our forehead
The oil of Chrism
Crowned on our heads
A robe of pure whiteness
Wrapped tight around us
The candle of our faith
To ward away dark

God gives us a new gift
of life here and after
With family around us
We look to the dawn
Baptismal waters
show us a new way
to follow Jesus:
live life in full.

to the tune of All Things Bright & Beautiful

Baptism brings us into life
With Jesus Christ our Lord
God’s blessing poured out on us all
Water and Oil and Word

As he did in the Jordan
We follow his command
to bring good news to nations
to both the poor and grand

In waters of baptism
New life in Christ reborn
A white robe wraps us in the truth
We greet the happy dawn

Signed upon our foreheads
the Cross of Victory marked
As it goes on before us
To dispell the fear and dark

The fragrant oil of Chrism
is poured upon our heads
A sign of God’s great blessing
Won for us from the dead

Though the world may feel quite dark
Christ’s light will cast out fear
There is nothing we cannot face
For the Lord is always near

Collective Worship: Oh Yes We do

Prezi can be viewed and downloaded from here

We are all different. So unique, so special. Different educations and interests, tastes in music or clothes; different ways of thinking, different ways of doing things.

And because everyone in the world was so different, so the way to reach out to the world had to be different:

  • Some in the world were young and some were… more mature,
  • Some in the world were clever and some were … in need of a simpler explanation ,
  • Some in the world were easily confused and some were very strong-minded,
  • Some in the world were cynical and some were open,

But the Boss knew he needed them all in his world-changing team.

And each time The Boss chose someone to follow him, the others said:

We don’t need you.

But the Boss said:

Oh yes, we do!

(get half the audience to yell out ‘we don’t need you‘ and the other half ‘oh yes, we do’.)


The Boss chose hot-headed, loud-mouthed, never-stop-to-think-about-it Peter.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose angel-faced, quick-to-smile, far-too-young-looking John.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose quick-eyed, clever-in-class, good-at-languages Andrew.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose grumpy-faced, stick-in-the-mud, ‘I don’t believe it!’ Nathaniel
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose very-excitable, won’t-ever-give-up, always-in-a-rush Philip
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose thoroughly-nice, his-mummy-loves-him, he’ll-go-far James.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose good-at-maths, rather-selfish, ‘I’ll do anything to succeed’ Matthew.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose never-trusting, always-doubting, ‘I’m-not-sure-about-this’ Thomas.
and the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose not-very-strong, easily-overlooked, ‘I’m-too-small’ James.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose temper-losing, tantrum-throwing, ‘I’ll smash your face in’ Simon.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose very impatient, money-loving, ‘I’ll-do-it-my-way’ Judas.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


And finally, The Boss chose nobody-special, easily-overlooked, ‘what’s his name?’ Jude.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!

The Boss chose each one of these twelve disciples, with all their differences. They became a great team, working together. to help the Good News reach the ends of the earth. Even though Judas let the side down a bit, and needed to be substituted for Mattias, who did a good job instead. There were lots of others as well, included some women but we didn’t always write their names down. They told lots of others and they told others and someone told me and now I’m telling you, so we can continue to pass on the good news that our lives can be sorted by Him.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, nor what age, gender, lifestyle, income or education you have. The good news is God has a place for you, and if all of these wierdos, these normal people, these average people, these outstanding, amazing people can come close to God through Christ, so may you.


Our Lady of Walsingham

olwO Mary, recall the solemn moment
when Jesus, your divine Son,
dying on the cross
confided us to your maternal care.

You are our Mother;
we desire ever to remain your devout children.

Let us therefore feel the effects
of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ.

Make your name again glorious in this place,
once renowned throughout our land
by your visits, favours and many miracles.

Pray, O Holy Mother of God,
for the conversion of England,
restoration of the sick,
consolation for the afflicted,
repentance of sinners,
peace to the departed.

O Blessed Mary, Mother of God,
Our Lady of Walsingham,
intercede for us. Amen

Prayers for Fr Stephen, Fr Graham, the Year4God team and work and ministry of the Shrine: a place most special in my heart.

Collective Worship: In the beginning (Creation, Science & the beginning of the school year)

Creation: Where it all comes from. John 1.1–18.

See/Download Prezi from



It’s impossible to gaze up at the sky and not wonder ‘where did all this come from?’ You can’t observe a starlit sky or a sunset without some sense of awe and wonder. Even knowing that the sky at night is red because of pollutants in the atmosphere does not make it any less impressive. As science feels its way forward to the first moments of the big bang, it still hasn’t captured the essence of it all, and there remains a sense that something is behind it all. However, we do know what that something is, not so much a thing as a beyond thing: God.


In the beginning there was nothing: nada, zip, zilch … not even chaos, which would at least have some form, even if it was … well … chaotic.

But beyond the nothingness, there was a something, even if we didn’t have the words to call it anything. This something was a word, well, not just a word, but THE word. The word of God spoken before all space and time, not shouted but whispered, a still small voice amid … nothingness.

That word, that whisper spoken by God, was God: the same as God, which cannot be divided, or diluted, or mucked around with, it didn’t matter how loud he had to speak it, because for God, just a whisper was enough, more than enough, and then springing out from the word, things happened and all creation was let loose …

That word had a name, the name we now know as Jesus … the Man, the Son of Man, the Christ, the Messiah and when that word was said by God, things happened. That word, just a word, was life itself, more than just inert inorganic stuff, but life … life itself that lit up people’s lives, a light that could shine into the darkest, scariest corners of existence and make it good .

There is no dark corner that this light cannot touch, nowhere that can’t hear – somehow – the whisper of the word of God. It’s in everything, through everything, with everything. It’s the thing that glues the quarks together and makes the sun shine, the reason to get up in the morning and the reason to go to bed at night: the fingerprints of God are in all of creation, and the challenge is to spot it.


Go to random word generator on Internet ( Note that although some sense might randomly come out, it doesn’t make complete sense. We could continue to mess around with these words : swapping pairs of words or paragraphs of jumbled, meaningless babble but it’ll never be totally right. Try and see.
Imagine this pile of words, and a mighty wind blows through them, like a tornado, and whips up all these words and when they hit the ground again, the fall into the complete works of Shakespeare: imagine how difficult and unlikely this might be … and that’s how likely that all of this world came together by accident, at random, that chemicals and amino acids collided together and made all this in its marvellous, wonderful diversity, and made all you in your beautiful, random wonderfulness.

The truth is, I don’t have enough faith to believe that all of this happened by accident: I don’t have enough faith to believe that you are a random, freak accident and so I have to conclude that something is behind it all, and that takes a lot less faith than believing in the random whirwind.

Application: Faith isn’t Asking the Impossible

We often think of faith and science as opposites, and certainly there are some who would like you to believe it’s a black and white, one or the other kind of decision, and yet as with most things, faith and science overlap, merge, combine … who do you think invented the lasers and the volcanos and the particle physics in the first place? The whole world contains the fingerprints of God, and the more science shows us, the more it shows us the handiwork of God. Hundreds of years ago a wise man by the name of Thomas Aquinas thought about God, and how if you thought of one thing happening, and then thought of the thing that caused it to happen, and then the thing that caused that to happen: like dominos toppling, if you go back and back and back until you run out of causes on this earth, and then go back another one, you are at the thing we call God: the ‘first mover’, the one who pushed the domino in the first place. Steven Hawking and many other scientists have touched on this issue, have explored the wonders of the first few nanoseconds of the creation (or the big bang you might want to call it) and still haven’t got close to the one who pushed the first domino. What was before? The Word. Let us try and hear that word and spot the subtle, oh so subtle fingerprints of God on this marvellous universe.

Let us pray…

Crowdsourced Recording – from Rachel Held Evens “Searching for Sunday”

I need your help. If you have taken part in any one of these before, then might I ask another contribution from you… fairly urgently (before the evening of Sat 5th Sept 2015 please!)

The text I need recording is from Rachel Held Even’s brilliant “Searching for Sunday”. Please record:

Church – a place where we love to throw parties, tell stories, find hope, and practice the ways of Jesus best we can.

We are all hurt or hungry in our own ways.

We’re at different places on our journey but we share a guiding story, a sweeping epic drama called the Holy Scriptures.

We find faith as we follow Jesus and share a willingness to honestly wrestle with God and our questions and our doubts.

We find dignity as Gods image bearers and strive to call out the dignity in one another.

We all receive, we all give.

We are old, young, poor, rich, conservative, liberal, single, married, gay, straight, traditionalists, progressives, overeducated, undereducated, certain, doubting, hurting, thriving.

Yet Christs love binds our differences together in unity.

Church – a place where everyone is safe but no one is comfortable.

Imagine if every church became this sort of place?

Imagine if every church became a place where we told one another the truth.

We might just create a sanctuary…..

If you are unsure about what to do, then please see the instructions here and email the recording to me at

I will credit your voice at the end of the video, and it will be made freely available for use after the Holy Ground worship at Exeter Cathedral on 13th September


We come together – a marriage hymn to “the Lord of the Dance”

Hymn: We come together

We come together to witness love
These two people joined by Above
We see in them a spring of care
Spreading wide, both here and there

Love then, however it may be
Love will defeat the enemy
Marriage shows when two people care
The love of God is always there.

We wish them joy throughout the years
Ups and downs,  joy and tears
Support each other
Through both sickness and health
Good times, bad times, poverty and wealth

Marriage is a journey which you now both share
Marriage is a mystery
which leads you God knows where
But with God in your union you’ll do no wrong
Reflect his love and it will be strong


Fr. Simon

Homily Notes: Ordinary 14 Year B Mark 6:1-6 – “I am getting old”

  • I am definitely getting old.
  • Although last weekend marked the 13th  anniversary of my Priesting, I have now spent so long in ministry that I am starting to reap the rewards of that length of ministry:
    • I now find myself marrying off former members of my Youth Group
    • I find myself being asked to baptise their children
    • In my personal life:
      • I regularly now enjoying going to the Pub with the young man now taller than me, whose nappies (terry nappies, of course!) I used to change
      • Only this week I celebrated with my middle daughter her 21st Birthday with a dinner out with her and her fiancé, for she too has graduated and is now engaged.
    • And yes, it makes me feel old.
    • Perhaps it seems a little strange to you, to be ministered to by a man who is, in many cases for you, the same age as your children (and I’m firmly in my mid-forties, slightly amused by constantly being referred to as a young clergyman)
    • I remember inviting a friend to come and house sit for us at our last Vicarage whilst we went to the Greenbelt festival, and I was anxious that Katrina would be alright in the house. She was after all, someone who I had known from youth club: gangly, self-conscious, but with a deep and profound faith. It was Lou who reminded me that
      • a) she was now 24
      • b) married (and I married them)
      • c) bringing her baby to stay
      • Maybe she would be alright after all!
    • But I couldn’t let go! I couldn’t forget the teenager, and allow the adult to show.
    • How often are the young, or the new to faith, or those who have experienced challenge in their lives disempowered by a simple phrase:
      • “I remember you when…”
    • In God’s grace, people grow, learn, develop, shape
    • God forgives (for if he didn’t, where would any of us be?)
    • So should we.
    • One of the most telling things a young person said to me was “the problem with being a young person is that no-one takes my faith seriously. They assume that I don’t have a relationship with God. They patronise me”.
      • That man is now a Baptist Minister leading a Church in Yeovil.
    • Forget the past (for God surely does)
    • Look to the future.
    • We should ask NOT “what was this church like in the past” and rest on the laurels of that, for the past in the Church was always somuch better wasn’t it?
    • Instead we should be asking
      • “what will this church look like?”
      • “what can we do when the Holy Spirit works within us?”
      • NOT “what did we used to do? (and seemingly don’t do anymore)”
      • BUT “what will we do now, where and to whom does God call us to minister?”
    • The text of Mark goes on further to describe the sending out of the disciples on their first mission, a mission that we share in.
    • They ventured out to minister empowered by the hope of the future, for there was no past, only a message of forgiveness, healing and grace and a call to respond seriously to that.
    • They were not custodians or guardians of a heritage, but bearers of a gift.
    • Just as you are.
    • The twelve sent out today do not represent the Clergy, or the Churchwardens or even the choir; but all of us
      • Each and every one.
      • We are all sent as missionaries, fed at this altar for the road, and later today or tomorrow you will encounter someone who needs God
      • Will you shake the dust off your feet before them and ignore their cry?
      • Or will you be a blessing to them?
        • By your presence
        • By your kindness
        • By your prayer
      • The gift which is within each and everyone gathered here today is the most powerful gift in the world
        • A gift to change our community
        • A gift to change the world
      • It does not matter whether some will want to hold you back, remind you of your past, your exuberant youth, your occasional (or in my case) frequent mistakes
      • The Gospel message has no need of the past
      • The Good News takes us into the future with hope.