The grounds of the First Presbyterian (NS) Church, Dunmurry look particularly impressive at this time of year as the various plants come into bloom. At the moment the azaleas look especially attractive, most notably the well established orange one flowering at the front of the church.
It struck me as something worth catching on video with perhaps an appropriate reading or two. So as well as some lines from Wordsworth I read part of the ‘Litany of Faith’ found in Orders of Worship.
Orders of Worship was published back in 1932 and is possibly mostly forgotten these days. But it has many virtues whether updated into contemporary language or read in the traditional form in which it was written, which still give it value today. ‘A Litany of Faith’ is part of the Fifth Service and can be found on pages 56-57.
The music is provided by Allen Yarr, our church organist.
As we prepare to mark the Coronation of King Charles III on Saturday, 6th May 2023 I thought I would have a look at some of the ways Non-Subscribing Presbyterians have celebrated previous Coronations over the last 120 years.
Looking through the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian magazine for 1911 (the journal began publication in 1907) I could find little direct reference to congregational celebration. There was plenty going on in the churches in June 1911 but in terms of special services or special events there is not much record of specific events.
However, there certainly was a lot of interest and this video explains some of it:
Filmed at First Dunmurry (NS) Church the video includes music played on the piano by Allen Yarr, the church organist, including Handel’s Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.
In 1911 the magazine gives a hopeful editorial about the new reign as well as an account of the meaning of the Crown. It also describes the Royal visit to Ireland just a few weeks after the Coronation in July 1911. This was to be the last visit to Dublin by a reigning monarch until the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 2011. While he was in Dublin a loyal address was presented to the King on behalf of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland.
The main focus of the video though is the contribution of the Rev J.H. Bibby, minister at Ballee from 1884 to 1935. Originally from Warrington he was a member of a family connected to the ceramics business which no doubt helped in his gifting to the Sunday School and members of his church of commemorative mugs:
The Rev Joseph Henry Bibby was educated at the Unitarian Home Missionary College from 1880 to 1884 and spent the whole of his long ministry in Ballee, where he was closely involved in local life. He was a generous benefactor to the church and on his death left many of his books to the Unitarian College as well as his collection of ceramics and glass to Warrington Museum. Some of what he donated to the Museum can be seen in the video above.
What makes his gifts of the Coronation mugs stand out is that they are lithophanes, that is they contain an image impressed in the porcelain which can only be see when held to the light. Here’s the image of Edward VII as seen in the 1902 mug:
Many subsequent students at the Unitarian College, Manchester also had reason to thank J.H. Bibby because he bequeathed a sum of money to establish a prize for New Testament Greek. For those who could master the intricacies of Greek there was at least the reward of a small prize at the end of the course if you could prove your proficiency, and we have Joseph Henry Bibby to thank for that.