07 April 2008

Bristol Cathedral

Actually, the full name is the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, although before that it was called the Abbey of Saint Augustine. The building was started in 1140, and it was in 1542 that King Henry VIII (sometime between divorces and beheadings and multiple marriages) declared it to be the Cathedral for the Diocese of Bristol. It was added to over a period of more than seven hundred years, and there are bits and pieces of various architectural styles to be found there, although the main Gothic-revival nave was completed in the latter part of the 19th century, giving it an overall harmony.

I was ordained as an Anglican deacon in this cathedral in 1975. There were two times in the year that ordinations took place: Petertide and Michaelmass. I was in the Petertide class. Maybe that was partly what put my feet on the path which led me to the Barque of Peter... who knows?

I wish I could say I remember the ordination ceremony in every detail, but I'd be untruthful. I can remember the anticipation. I can remember the incredibly long processional, since there were about forty of us being ordained that day. And I can remember how strange it felt to be wearing a clerical collar, although most of us kept our chins held very high to make sure everyone could see. Ah, youthful pride.

One other item of interest connected to this very lovely cathedral: the sometime Dean was Samuel Crossman, who wrote one of my favorite hymn texts, "My Song is Love Unknown."

My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
But mine the tomb wherein He lay.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.