We are about to enter into one of the most wonderful times of the Christian year (yes, I would probably say that about every season, and mean it truthfully). After the celebrations and musical grandeur of last week for Christ the King the services will become more serious and reflective, but also full of expectation and hope.
On Sunday, the first Sunday of the Christ year, the beginning of Advent, we will will begin the service by recalling our baptisms in the sprinkling of water and in prayer. We will then hear St Paul's cry to 'Wake up' and consider Christ's cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem as a picture of the work of the Spirit in the world and in the Church: 'drop down ye heavens from above, and let the sky pour down righteousness'.
To help us appreciate the hope and expectation of Advent, on Thursday at 5:30 pm we will have a special service of Advent Lessons and Carols, gathering in darkness and then lit by candlelight. The service is given shape by the Great 'O Antiphons', seven sentences based on an Old Testament title for the Messiah which is fulfilled and given its true sense by Christ. The readings from the Bible, lessons from the Bible, seasonal pieces by the choir and some wonderful hymns will help us to appreciate the riches of the season. We will be joined by the Oriel choir and guests from Oriel College also.
I hope that you will be able to join us on Sunday and on Thursday, and a very blessed beginning of Advent to you all.
On 10th October, 1914, the Bishop of Oxford and sometime first Principal, Charles Gore, dedicated the newly built Chapel of the Resurrection in a service described as being ‘of a piece with the chapel − stately, yet simple, and withal of great beauty’. The generous benefaction left to the House in 1904 by the Leeds solicitor John William Cudworth had enabled the Governors to contemplate the construction of new buildings and a permanent chapel. The commission was offered to Temple Moore, who planned everything down to the hinges on the doors, and the foundation stone was laid in May, 1913. In the first sermon preached after the dedication, the Principal, Dr Darwell Stone, hoped that the ‘architectural and material beauty’ of the chapel would serve its primary purpose: ‘before all else we desire that men should feel it to be a house of prayer’.
The shape and content of the anniversary service echoes much in the 1914 ceremony; we hear the same readings and sing some of the same hymns.
Pusey House was founded in 1884 as a centre of theological study, worship, and pastoral care, and as a most fitting memorial to Dr E. B. Pusey, Regius Professor of Hebrew, Canon of Christ Church, and a leader of the Oxford Movement. Pusey’s biographer, Canon H. P. Liddon, hoped that the new institution would be both ‘a home of sacred learning and a rallying point of the Christian faith’. This meant that the House would not only promote ‘those great and majestic studies which attend on Christian theology’, but also examine the ‘speculations’ and ‘ever-changeful fashion’ of the day. In other words, to fulfil its mission, Pusey House would encourage serious engagement with contemporary society and nurture a thoughtful and robust faith nourished by rich worship and expressed in lives of service in the world and in the Church. These principles still offer a foundation on which to build the life of House. In working to renew the Church of England’s life and witness, Pusey and his colleagues also sought to understand and respond to the most profound needs of society in their day. While the character of those needs may have changed, the challenge of accepting a share in the vocation of both presenting and living something of the richness and insights of the catholic faith as the Church of England has received it is all the more pressing.
A New Organ
The first services in the Chapel of the Resurrection were beautified by a new organ which was the gift of Mr Ivor Beattie of Corpus Christi College. The Church Times noted that although the organ was not yet complete ‘no one could fail to mark the sweetness of its tone’. In the early 1980s when that organ needed significant work it was replaced by the electronic organ which we currently use in the chapel. After more than thirty years of service, this instrument is on its last legs. After considering various possibilities, the Governing Body has decided to acquire a fine J. W. Walker organ from a church where it is no longer in use. In addition to being in unusually good condition for an organ built in 1908, it has a warm ringing tone with a wide variety of timbres that will sound well in Pusey House Chapel. By acquiring an instrument suitable to the majestic space of the chapel and capable of building on an already strong musical tradition, the Governors are seeking to enrich another hundred years of edifying worship to the glory of God. The collection at Mass today will go toward the cost of refurbishing and installing this organ.
May we all share in something of the vision which inspired those who, even as the devastating and far-reaching consequences of the War became more apparent, built and dedicated the Pusey Chapel to the truth and hope of the Resurrection, and who worked to shape a Church rooted in thankful praise and prepared for service in the world.
Rev’d Dr George Westhaver
A Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Pusey House Chapel
Saturday, 30th May, 2015, 2.00 to 4.00 p.m.
Followed by Choral Evensong for the Eve of Trinity Sunday
‘Oxford, Gothic, and Education’,
by the Rev’d Professor William Whyte,
Fellow in History, and Dean, St John’s College, Oxford.
‘Towards a New Gothic Revival: Temple Moore's Sacred Medievalism at Pusey House’,
by Dr Ayla Lepine, Art and Architectural Historian, and
Teaching Associate, University of Nottingham
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