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.
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:
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.
These opening lines from God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins supply us with the opening words and the theme of this week’s online service. Filmed at various locations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland places visited include the Hawarden estate, Flintshire, North Wales; the sand dunes at Formby near Liverpool; the Derbyshire Peak district; the River Thames (Isis) at Oxford; Norton Priory, Cheshire; Sefton Park, Liverpool; Rathmullan, county Down; and Dunmurry, county Antrim. As we look at these varied landscapes we explore the meaning of this idea of the divine presence in the natural world alongside readings from Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Merton and Ernesto Cardenal.
In the service Graham Murphy reads two poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins – Binsey Poplars and Pied Beauty, both recorded at Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, Flintshire. In addition Robert Neill and Emma McCrudden read extracts from the works of Thomas Merton and Ernesto Cardenal.
Music played includes:
For the beauty of the earth, played by Allen Yarr, organist of First Presbyterian (NS) Church, Dunmurry.
Come let us sing of a wonderful love, played by John Strain, organist of Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church.
O love that wilt not let me go, played by John Strain.
Let saints on earth in concert sing, played by Allen Yarr.
Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into a prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all. – Thomas Merton
To accompany our service of worship conducted from Oxford we have a few views of various parts of the university and its environs.
The service features readings, hymns and prayers as well as poems relating to Oxford. As part of the service we are very pleased to have Graham Murphy read Duns Scotus’s Oxford, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Oxford, by C.S. Lewis.
Readings: Psalm 139 read by Rev Dr David Steers Duns Scotus’s Oxford by Gerard Manley Hopkins, read by Graham Murphy Oxford by C.S. Lewis, read by Graham Murphy Oxford (extract) by T. Lovatt Williams, read by Sue Steers
Hymns: ‘The King of Love my shepherd is’, Alfie McClelland (Clough) ‘From all that dwell below the skies’, Allen Yarr (Dunmurry) ‘Lord of all hopefulness’, John Strain (Ballee) ‘Be still for the presence of the Lord’, Laura Patterson (Downpatrick) ‘In Christ Alone’, John Strain (Ballee) ‘It is well with my soul’, Allen Yarr (Dunmurry)
In the service you will see: Radcliffe Camera, Brasenose College, River Thames (Isis), Harris Manchester College, Mansfield College, New College, Christ Church (Peckwater Quad, Tom Quad, Memorial Garden), Christ Church Meadow, Old English Longhorn Cattle, Divinity School, Bodleian Library, Sheldonian Theatre, Christ Church Cathedral, University Church, Martyrs Memorial.
Travelling across the Irish Sea from Belfast to Liverpool I was struck by the tranquility and the blue-ness of the sea. I filmed the scene for a couple of minutes, partly in the hope of seeing a pod of dolphins swim past, but found it strangely calming. So with sections of hat film to start and close this short video I put together a few Sea-born Reflections:
Click on the video above to see the Reflections.
Conducted by the Rev Dr David Steers, First Presbyterian (NS) Church, Dunmurry.
Hymns: Will your anchor hold in the storms of life played by Laura Patterson (organist Downpatrick) and O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness played on the piano by Allen Yarr (organist Dunmurry).
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:
Our two most recent videos involve both celebrating and nourishing the natural environment. Our first video contains a ‘Prayer for the Glory of the Outward World’, which is based on one found in Orders of Worship, and includes ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ played on the piano by Allen Yarr, church organist. It features some of the lovely plants growing around First Dunmurry (NS) Presbyterian Church and it can be seen here:
Many of our churches celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and at Ballee and Clough Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Churches special services were followed by the planting of trees to mark the occasion, a Mountain Ash at Ballee and a Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’ at Clough. This is part of the Queen’s ‘Green Canopy’ which aims to plant trees to enhance the natural environment. We are grateful to everyone who took part, to Sue Steers FRSA who led the service and to John Strain and Jack Steers who provided the music. The video can be seen here: