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.
Easter Reflections for 2023 from First Dunmurry (NS) Presbyterian Church with the minister Rev Dr David Steers and the organist Allen Yarr who plays ‘Ride on, ride on, in majesty’, ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’, and ‘The Day of Resurrection’ on the piano.
There was a lot of snow this week, suddenly the world didn’t look so Spring-like and we had to postpone a meeting with the RSPB as we plan to help re-introduce swifts to our locality.
But the weather led me to reflect on Lent and Spring and this short video contains a few readings from Psalm 148, Walter Brueggemann and Melissa Jeter, as well as music played by Allen Yarr, the church organist.
It can be seen here:
We also made another short video that makes full use of the snow, with thanks to InkLightning for the special animation:
I am not sure how many Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Churches had postcards produced featuring the meeting-house in Edwardian days. Not all of them I would guess but I have a good few examples and have blogged about a few of them including Downpatrick, Newry, Banbridge, All Souls’ Belfast (including one that quite clearly is not All Souls’), and Crumlin. There are others such as Clough and Dromore which I have seen but not acquired, but recently I was pleased to pick up a picture of Dunmurry.
Labelled First Presbyterian (R[emonstrant] S[ynod]) Church, Dunmurry, (Dr Montgomery’s Old Church) I have seen this card offered for sale before but I am pleased to at last track one down. Published by F.W. Harding of Lisburn this card was posted on 12th November 1906 to Miss Browne in Aghalee, ‘M.B.’ writes to ‘Maggie’ telling they her they are still waiting for a letter from her but hope to see her soon.
We can compare it with a modern view, taken from more or less the same position last week and see that, of course, although some of the graves, the trees and planting around the church have changed the view is essentially unchanged.
Dunmurry January 2023
In January we filmed some short reflections in the church featuring Allen Yarr on the piano. The video can be seen here:
Reflections for the month of January with the Rev Dr David Steers, minister, and Allen Yarr, church organist. Music: ‘When I survey’, ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’
Over the period of Advent in the run up to Christmas at Dunmurry we have uploaded three videos generally reflecting on Advent and Christmas carols, their origin and use, as well as the Christmas story itself. You can see them all by clicking on the videos below.
Christmas Reflections The Christmas Story
First Dunmurry (NS) Presbyterian Church
Told by Sue Steers FRSA Organ: Allen Yarr Trumpet: Jack Steers
Carols: Hark! the herald angels sing O Little town of Bethlehem O Come, all ye faithful It came upon the midnight clear
Click on the video above to see the Christmas Reflections
Two Christmas Carols
Click on the link above to see this short exploration of two well-known carols: Deck the hall with boughs of holly (first published 1784) Ding, dong merrily on high (first published in 1924)
Filmed at First Dunmurry (NS) Presbyterian Church and at the Continental Market, Belfast
Trumpet played by Jack Steers
A Short Reflection for Advent
Hark the glad sound! the Saviour comes writtten by Rev Philip Doddridge DD (1702-1751)
The Rev Philip Doddridge DD (1702-1751) was one of the most significant dissenting ministers in the first half of the eighteenth century. Among other things he was the author of the Advent carol ‘Hark the glad sound! The Saviour comes’. This short reflection by Rev Dr David Steers, minister of the First Presbyterian (Non-Subscribing) Church, Dunmurry, looks at Philip Doddridge and his hymn in the context of Advent. Jack Steers plays the hymn on the trumpet.
At the time of writing the coffin of Her Majesty the Queen is lying in state in Westminster Hall and many thousands of people are queuing in order to be able to pay their last respects. Special services have been held all over the country in the last week and at First Dunmurry (NS) Presbyterian Church we held a short service of prayer and reflection on Friday, 9th December. An edited audio recording of the service can be heard by clicking on the video above. Allen Yarr is the organist.
Below are some images from the lying in state in Westminster Hall.
Earlier in the week, on Monday, 12th September a very moving service of thanksgiving for the life of the Queen was held in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. Below are some images from that occasion.
Services of thanksgiving for the life of the Queen were also held in Belfast and Cardiff.
I shall not die, but live, and shall the works of God discover. The Lord hath me chastised sore, but not to death giv’n over. O set ye open unto me the gates of righteousness; Then will I enter into them, and I the Lord will bless. This is the gate of God, by it the just shall enter in. Thee will I praise, for thou me heard’st and hast my safety been.
Translation of Psalm 118 v.17-21 which was sung in Scots Gaelic by Karen Matheson at the service in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh.
Your enjoyment of the world is never right, till every morning you awake in Heaven: see yourself in your Father’s palace; and look upon the skies, the earth, and the air as celestial joys: having such a reverend esteem of all, as if you were among the angels.
One of the beauties of Dunmurry is not just the gardens and grounds that surround the church but the variety of animal and bird life that lives there. Louise Steers has been busy filming many of the birds, animals and insects that live there and we have two videos that consist of Louise’s films and photographs of them accompanied by music provided by John Strain on the organ at Ballee. Among the animals you can expect to see in Part One are robins, blue tits, blackbirds, a thrush, grey squirrels, a mouse, ladybirds, a speckled wood butterfly and a peacock butterfly.
Click on the video above to see some of the birds, animals and insects that live in the gardens round the First Presbyterian (NS) Church, Dunmurry. Medley played by John Strain on the organ at Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church.
The second of two films featuring some of the birds, animals and insects that live in the gardens round the First Presbyterian (NS) Church, Dunmurry. All pictures are by Louise. In this case the accompaniment is by John Strain on the organ at Ballee playing God speaks to us in bird and song, For the beauty of the earth, and God who made the earth.
Click on the video above to see Part Two. The video includes forty-two images featuring: blue tit, female chaffinch, male chaffinch. starling, thrush, shieldbug, lacewing, bumblebee, carder bumblebee, hoverfly, ladybird, peacock butterfly, speckled wood butterfly, grey squirrel, hedgehog, wood pigeon, blackbird, magpie, fledgling blue tit, male bullfinch, great tit, robin.
Louise also has her own animation channel (InkLightning), which includes animation like this short video: