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Updated - 2nd November 2021

South Somerset Monthly Prayer Diary - November 2021

Somerset South Deanery Monthly Prayer Diary - print

Somerset South Deanery Monthly Prayer Diary - screen reader



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In all the seasons and circumstances of life, poetry, words and art of all kinds are part of our humanity and our God-created search for truth, love and the sacred.

In the particular challenges and griefs of the present pandemic and its implications there is a vital need for action, innovation in science and medicine and in every aspect of daily life. We need to be active and compassionate in sharing any of the capabilities we have been given.

As Christians, there is also the vital need of prayer and new ways of worship as we find our true identity in Christ and the family of God.  We need also to be quiet.

In the creative Arts we are invited to come closer, to think and reflect, to feel at the depths of our hearts the presence and sometimes the seeming absence of God, and to give expression to despair, lament and also to hope and laughter as we hold on to a faith that promises redemption and healing.

May the images, words and sounds that we share here bring you inspiration, comfort and a closer sense of the living, breathing love of God in Jesus Christ.

Judith Abbott




The Guide - John Smith

Time for Writing - a new set of pages from Mick Gowar which should be on interest to all writers, wherever you are.







This banner is made from fabric scraps and embroidery and has graced the Rectory gate at Broadway and is now on the gate of Broadway Parish Church, The Church of St Aldhelm and St Eadburga, sending out its message loud and clear.


Elizabeth Rapp

Elizabeth Corner (neé Rapp) lives near Ilminster and has published three books of poetry. She works as a poetry tutor and is a Reader in the Diocese of Exeter. The two poems she has offered here are related to the Resurrection and the Annunciation, but the themes of faith are vital throughout the year - in the resurrection we have hope, and in the everyday, who knows when God will appear to any of us?

Judith Abbott



Who is this heap of rags the wind blows through?

I am this soldier, dauntless in battle.

Whose is this body, loitering under lamplight?

I am this lily, her unpolluted flesh.

Who is this old woman, battered in her bed?

I am this bride offering white roses.

Whose is this shadow, vaporised in concrete?

I am this toddler dancing among leaves.

Whose flesh, bomb-strewn, lies scattered on the earth?

It is my flesh but risen from the grave.

Who is this baby, radiant in a dark cave?

I am this child who bears the whole world's grief -

the haven of thy resurrection.


Elizabeth Rapp


MARCH 25th

That day he came in feathery flight

perhaps you were kneading bread,

pegging out the weekly wash,

humming the tune your promised love

would sing as he worked at saw and lathe.


So it was an ordinary day,

neighbours chatting, children laughing

when he knelt before you

his great wings brushing the floor.


As a lightning flash pierced your flesh

the depths of the sea trembled with awe,

the very earth cried out her miraculous ‘Yes'.

Elizabeth Rapp


It's been suggested that a few brief comments about my poem Resurrection might be helpful.

Through the media, we can witness the violence rampant in our world: the brutality of war, senseless street murders, the suffering of vulnerable children during natural disasters. We know there is little we can do to prevent such events and we may cry out Where is God in all this pain? It may be helpful to remember Jesus' own promise---‘Behold I make all things new.'

Yes, but how, when, where we may ask. Watching the news?

Jesus takes us beyond this terrible suffering and waste to a new heaven and earth, such as described in the book of Revelation. In this new dimension of redeemed life we may see the child vaporised from the bomb dropped on Hiroshima now dancing among leaves; a sex worker degraded and abused will find new life and become innocent as a lily again. An old woman battered to death by a thief will be healed and safe.

These are all imaginary images and you may think of many more for

yourselves. Of course no-one knows exactly how we shall all be changed ‘in the twinkling of an eye', but we have faith in the resurrection promise of Jesus Christ to bring about a new dimension of living where ‘there is no more pain or crying or death, for the former things have passed away.'

Elizabeth Corner (neé Rapp)


Why poetry? What is it for? are two somewhat plaintive questions I'm asked most frequently. One response might be that we all share in the creativity of God himself, since humanity and the natural world are all expressions of God's creative love, because, as we know, love always seeks to communicate itself in a variety of ways, including poetry.

An American poet and critic Natalie Goldberg once defined a good poem as ‘saying Yes! to the holy things of life ‘ - giving glory to God through expressing the truth of the heart with the skill of the mind.

Many poets throughout millennia have described their relationship with God in ways that inspire, comfort and enrich us with beauty of language and imagery. The Metaphysical poets were particularly good at sharing their intimate relationship with God in all its moods. Many priests wrote fine hymns which we sing with feeling today.

Poetry can also transcend the passage of time, as I know. I began to write when I was eight and suddenly moved with my family from the unspoilt beauty of rural Worcestershire to the leafy suburbs of the large industrial city of Birmingham. Overnight I exchanged a solitary childhood exploring the beauty of hills, fields and streams for streets, traffic and school! So, recording the place I had left forever was a way of making the experience eternal. I had become aware of the presence of what my father called God in those early years. His faith through much illness and sadness gave me a lasting Christian faith too: a most wonderful gift from a father to his child.

Elizabeth Corner (neé Rapp)





The Holly Oak

The wind that blew my seed,
the rain that nourished me
were all you, one great God.

By Your will the desert
did not swallow me. I grew
tall and straight and true

to honour you:
god of fire and water
air and desert.

Then men with axes came
to cut me down
Was this your will?

And were these men also you?
Were their axes you?

And who was he,
nailed to my body
on that bare hill of rock

Who in that hour
when your light was lost to me
cried in my voice:

‘Oh God,
my God -
why have you forsaken me?'

by Mick Gowar

The holly oak or ilex is reputed (along with many others, including the cypress or cedar) to be the tree used for the cross, and this poem was inspired by the Anglo-Saxon allegorical poem Dream of The Rood. In that poem the cross speaks of its experiences, and in particular its witness to the sufferings of Christ.

Mick Gowar lives in Chard (where his wife Ann is the Rector) and has a long engagement with poetry - his own and other people's. I asked him what place he thinks poetry has in a life of faith and he writes:

‘I would say that poetry is in many ways central to a life of faith, in that the holy texts of the Old and New Testaments are best understood as poetry - or at least through an appreciation of the techniques often associated with poetry: metaphor, allegory, even irony. Some theologians and poets have even gone so far as to suggest that the life of Jesus was in itself the most sublime and still living poem, and that Jesus was the greatest creative mind - or to put it another way, the most inspiring and profound poet - who has ever lived ...'

Mick Gowar


Back to Bethlehem - Linda Richardson

Dedicated to Rev. Lyn Agnew. Poetry and artwork by Linda Richardson. Cambridge School of Art. 


Godfrey Rust is a poet, songwriter and worship leader, whose Christmas poems have become a particular favourite with many churches. Below is one of Godfrey's series of seven poems Words From The Cross, and a link to read the complete cycle with very striking contemporary illustrations. Many thanks to Rev. Georgina for suggesting Godfrey's poems.


I saw it first, this bloody work of heart,
conceived in my mind's eye in the beginning,
or what you call the beginning. Time
was the canvas I prepared to paint on.
I drew its outline in the life of Abraham,
my palette history, its colours mixed
in Israel's rise and fall. I worked from life:
against a landscape of an Eden spoiled
my people with their untamed rebel hearts
stared out through masks of beauty scarred with sin.
Painstaking detail. Light and darkness. Then
the hardest thing I ever did: love  
was daubed with every brush-stroke of the Spirit
on the unforgiving texture of the soul.
Finally to shape the central figure
I needed human hands. I laboured with Mary
to bring the enterprise to birth. Three more decades
of preparation were meticulous-
it is not irony that I was framed
and hung up here to die: it is the point.
I am the artist and the portrait too,
painting out at last in the blood of God
a perfect self-expression: my still life.
This is my masterpiece and it is finished.

Compline for Passiontide

Here is a video of audio and stills of Compline (Night Prayer) recorded and put together by Rev'd Philip Butcher (Two Shires) for Passiontide.  Whilst it has been prepared for use in Holy Week, it is a gentle service that can be used at all times last thing in the day, especially during these times of uncertainty.

Philip Butcher offers this service of Compline (the last service in the monastic day), using his own photographs and voice. Here he talks about the process:

‘I love to take photos when ‘out and about', particularly of shapes and forms that inspire me in nature. Often I don't have a particular use in mind, and so I end up trawling my files to find ones that go with what I am doing!

‘In the Compline video the pictures are from a variety of places. The font was in a church in Budapest as the sun was going down. The tree is on Dartmoor near my parents' farm. The statue is at Forde Abbey with the fountain cascading over it. The sunrise is on a beach near Melbourne, Australia. The cloud pictures are from above Cheddar Gorge last summer between storms. The unfurling leaf is from a hedgerow near Tatworth this week. The sunsets are from Cornwall.

‘The singing is plainchant. It is an old form of musical notation where the difference in pitch is scored, but not the note itself. It is a traditional form of monastic music and lends itself well to unaccompanied singing.

‘I used to belong to a plainsong choir many years ago. But when we were training for ministry, we were also taught it as part of our worship. Everyone had to lead the college compline at least once in their time in the seminary! I am a bit rusty as haven't done it now for a few years.

‘What is my day job? I don't really think I have a ‘job' as such, but I am the rector of the Two Shires Benefice; five wonderful parishes near Chard. Being a priest or a vicar isn't really something you do, but rather something you are, and something that you are always discovering more about.'

Compline for Passiontide

Text version:

Compline for Passiontide


Hymns for Holy Week

Thank you to Pamela Everitt for her willingness to share her gift of music here - as she does with the small village congregation in this Deanery who much appreciate her voice in worship each Sunday. It's different from her experience as a BBC singer!

Many thanks also to her husband Graham who just happens to be a sound recordist and was able to record these unaccompanied songs now for her.

You may like to dwell on the words of the hymns, which are provided here.

Pamela tells me:

'Singing has been a large part of my life since I was a very young child. I remember the local pantomime inviting 4 little girls to come up to the stage in the interval. In turn, they asked what each girl could do - skip, dance or sing. The first 3 girls skipped and to the surprise of the compere, I sang. The song was The Scottish Soldier which my grandfather had taught me. I was probably 8 years old. The following year, I had a part in the pantomime as Captain Blood's son!

'Both of my parents were very supportive and were at every concert I gave. I attended Washington Grammar School which had an extremely good choir and most weekends we performed in churches around Durham. Both my music teacher and my maths teacher played for me and entered me in music festivals. I was very fortunate because they all gave me a solid grounding in music.

'For 23 years, I was a member of the BBC Singers. Every concert we did had to be recorded and we could be called on to do two concerts a week, rehearsing twice, sometimes three times a day. These were mainly for radio three.

'We usually did about 11 Promenade concerts in the summer.  On occasions we sang in Friday Night is Music Night for Radio 2. We also sang the Morning Service every weekday morning on radio 4 - 8 singers for each service. When I had a holiday from the BBC, I took a busman's holiday and went touring with the Monteverdi Choir and The Sixteen!

'I have always had a degree of nervousness when singing. Before school concerts when I was singing solos, I would get awful cramps in my stomach. The BBC Singers concerts were the worst. There were times that I would feel sheer terror when we were singing 20th century music with virtually no tune to it. Yet everyone said I looked very calm so my acting skills must have been brilliant!

'I was brought up by my parents in a strong Christian faith and that has been important to me growing up. I belonged to a professional church choir most of my singing career - The Guards Chapel for many years -so my love of the psalms was fulfilled in Matins and Evensong.

'It saddens me that village churches today, in the main, have no choir. They not only encourage the congregation to sing out but it would be lovely to enjoy Matins and Evensong once more.

'Holy Week is such a significant week in the church calendar and these hymns are very much part of Holy Week. Singing them unaccompanied felt very exposed and extremely poignant but important to me to connect with the Crucifixion story.'

Palm Sunday

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 oh, 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.

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.

John Ireland

Monday - Fig Monday

There is a green hill faraway

There is a green hill far away,
outside a city wall,
where our dear Lord was crucified,
who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell
what pains he had to bear;
but we believe it was for us
he hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.

There was no other good enough,
to pay the price of sin;
he, only, could unlock the gate
of heaven and let us in.

O dearly, dearly has he loved,
and we must love him too;
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do.

C.F. Alexander

Holy Tuesday

Where you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Well, were you there when he rose to glorious light?
Were you there when he rose to glorious light?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when he rose to glorious light?


Wednesday - Spy Wendesday

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
And I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world
has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God
left his glory above to bear it to dark Calvary.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross ...

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see.
For ‘twas there on that cross Jesus suffered and died
to pardon and sanctify me.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross ...

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
it's shame and reproach gladly bear.
Then he'll call me someday to my home far away;
there his glory forever I'll share.

And I'll cherish the old rugged cross ...

George Bernard

Thursday - Maundy Thursday

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness,
O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been
Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Summer and winter
And springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars
In their courses above,
Join with all nature
In manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness
Mercy and love.

Great is thy faithfulness ...

Pardon for sin
and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer
and to guide;
strength for today
and bright hope for tomorrow
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Great is Thy faithfulness ...

Thomas Chisholm

Friday - Good Friday

When I survey the Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from his head, his hands ,his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Where the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts

Saturday - Holy Saturday

Be still for the Presence of the Lord

Be still for the presence of the Lord
the Holy One is here.
Come bow before Him now
with reverence and fear.
In Him no sin is found;
we stand on holy ground.
Be still for the presence of the Lord
the Holy One is here.

Be still for the glory of the Lord
is shining all around;
he burns with holy fire;
with splendour he is crowned.
How awesome is the sight;
Our radiant King of light!
Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around.

Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place;
he comes to cleanse and heal;
to minister His grace.
no work too hard for Him;
in faith receive from Him.
Be still for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place.

David J. Evans

Sunday - Easter Day

Alleluia, Alleluia! Hearts to Heaven


Alleluia, alleluia!
Hearts to heaven and voices raise:
sing to God a hymn of gladness,
sing to God a hymn of praise.
He, who on the cross a victim,
for the world's salvation bled,
Jesus Christ, the King of glory,
now is risen from the dead.

Now the iron bars are broken,
Christ from death to life is born,
glorious life, and life immortal,
on this holy Easter morn.
Christ has triumphed, and we conquer
by his mighty enterprise:
we with him to life eternal
by his resurrection rise.

Christ is risen, Christ, the first fruits
of the holy harvest field,
which will all its full abundance
at his second coming yield:
then the golden ears of harvest
will their heads before him wave,
ripened by his glorious sunshine
from the furrows of the grave.

Christ is risen, we are risen!
Shed upon us heavenly grace,
rain and dew and gleams of glory
from the brightness of thy face;
that we, with our hearts in heaven,
here on earth may fruitful be,
and by angel hands be gathered,
and be ever, Lord, with thee.

Alleluia, alleluia!
Glory be to God on high;
Alleluia! to the Saviour
who has gained the victory;
Alleluia! to the Spirit,
fount of love and sanctity:
Alleluia, alleluia!
to the Triune Majesty.

Christopher Wordsworth


It Feeks Like A Sunday

Jonathan Farey

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