John Mason Neale was an Anglican priest, scholar and hymn writer who is mostly remembered for his contributions to Christmas hymns and carols. Neale was born in London on 24thJanuary 1818 to clergyman Cornelius Neale (1789-1823) and Susannah. Neale’s younger sister Elizabeth (1822-1901) went on to found the Anglican religious order The Community of the Holy Cross.
Neale attended the independent boarding school Sherborne School in Dorset, followed by Trinity College, Cambridge where he failed to achieve an honours degree due to his lack of ability in mathematics. Nonetheless, by 22, Neale was the chaplain of Downing College, Cambridge and helped to found the Cambridge Camden Society. The society aimed to promote more Gothic architecture in churches.
In 1842, Neale was ordained and became incumbent of Crawley in Sussex. Unfortunately, he did not hold this position for long because he was forced to resign due to chronic lung disease. To ease his condition, Neale spent the winter in the Madeira Islands where he concentrated on writing his theological book History of the Eastern Church. By 1846, Neale was fit to work once more and became the warden of Sackville College, a Jacobean almshouse in East Grinstead.
In East Grinstead, Neale set up the Society of Saint Margaret, which was dedicated to nursing the sick. The society was run by nuns and spread throughout Britain and eventually to the USA, Haiti and Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, Protestants were suspicious of the society because they associated nuns with Catholicism. In 1857, Neale was attacked at a funeral for one of the society’s sisters; however, he received little sympathy in England. Fortunately, he was better respected in the USA and received a doctorate from Trinity College, Connecticut.
Due to his interest in the Eastern Church, Neale founded the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union in 1864. Although he endured a lot of opposition for this, he dedicated his time to translating Eastern liturgies into English. He also translated ancient, medieval, Greek and Latin hymns into English. These include All Glory, Laud and Honour, O come, O come, Emmanuel and Of the Father’s Heart Begotten.
All Glory, Laud and Honour was a hymn written by Theodulf of Orléans in 820. Based on Psalm 2:1-11, the hymn was intended to be sung on Palm Sunday. Theodulf, who had once been Bishop of Orléans under the rule of Charlemagne, was in prison at the time he wrote the hymn. His imprisoner, Louis the Pious, heard Theodulf singing the song and ordered his release. He also ordered the song to be sung every Palm Sunday thereafter.
Neale translated O come, O come, Emmanuel from the original Latin in 1851. The first verse began, “Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel,” but ten years later, Neale modernised the hymn, so it began, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” The version we sing today was updated in 1906 by T. A. Lacey.
O come, O come, Emmanuel is traditionally sung in the week preceding Christmas day, although some churches have adopted it as a hymn to sing throughout Advent. There are two other Christmas hymns that Neale is remembered for:
During his lifetime, Neale wrote more books than he did hymns. By his death on 6thAugust 1866, at the age of 48, Neale had written or contributed to at least twenty books. After his death, Neale was commemorated in the Calendar of the Saints of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Anglican Churches.
Henry Francis Lyte was an Anglican preacher, hymnodist and poet whose best hymns include Abide With Me, and Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven. Born on 1st June 1793, Lyte was the second son of Thomas and Anna Marie Lyte of Ednam, Scotland. His father arranged for Lyte and his older brother to attend Portora Royal School in Ulster, Ireland, but then deserted the family. Shortly after this, Lyte’s mother died, however, recognising his ability, the headteacher of the school agreed to pay Lyte’s fees and "welcomed him into his own family during the holidays."
Lyte went on to study at Trinity College, Dublin, after which he took Anglican holy orders in 1815. His first curacy was in County Wexham, however, Lyte was not sure whether he was in the right vocation. Yet, the following year, Lyte experienced an evangelical conversion and began studying the Bible in earnest.
By 1817, Lyte had become a curate in Cornwall where he met and married Anne Maxwell. Seven years older than her husband, Anne was a keen Methodist and the marriage worked well. They had five children, the youngest being Farnham Maxwell-Lyte, a pioneer of photography. Lyte’s daughter Emily Jeanette bore Lyte a grandson who went on to be known as Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte, the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
From 1820 to 1822, Lyte lived and worked in Hampshire before relocating to Devon. In 1824, the family settled in Lower Brixham where he established the first Sunday school in the Torbay area, plus a Sailors’ Sunday school. The latter provided general schooling for uneducated sailors. Lyte became so popular in Lower Brixham, the church had to be enlarged.
Admittedly, some people were attracted to Lyte for his good looks and personal charm, although he was slightly eccentric. He was an expert flautist who could often be found with his flute nearby. He could speak Latin, Greek and French; enjoyed literature; and had considerable knowledge of wildflowers. Yet, he still had time for his parish, predominately consisting of fishermen, and supplied every ship with a Bible. He also compiled religious songs and devotions for the men to use whilst at sea. Lyte even found time to dabble in politics, in which he took a Conservative stance, assisting Samuel Wilberforce in his request to abolish slavery in Great Britain.
Lyte published a few books, mostly of poems, but also a small collection of psalms and hymns entitled The Spirit of the Psalms. With lyrics based on the Psalms, Lyte’s most famous hymn is Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide. This was written after Lyte had preached his final sermon before travelling to the continent for health reasons, from which he never returned. Based on Luke 24:29 (But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.), it became a favourite of George V and George VI. It is also the hymn the nurse Edith Cavell sang whilst she faced a German firing squad and her death.
Abide With Me has been sung at every FA Cup Final since the 1927 game between Arsenal and Cardiff City. The first and last verses are traditionally sung about 15 minutes before kick-off. Rugby League followed suit, singing the hymn at every Challenge Cup Final since 1929, the first time the match took place at Wembley Stadium.
Along with Abide With Me, Lyte’s top four hymns are Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven; Jesus, I my cross have taken; and Pleasant are Thy courts above. Praise, my soul is based on Psalm 103 and was sung at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It was also the first hymn sung at the funeral of former US President George H. W. Bush.
Sadly, Lyte began experiencing health problems from a young age, writing the poem Declining Days when he was only 46. Before then, Lyte had been diagnosed with debilitating asthma and bronchitis, for which he sought treatment in continental Europe. As a result, his congregation began to diminish, preferring a vicar who was fit and well over one who could not guarantee he would be well enough to preach.
By 1840, Lyte was spending most of his time in the south of France and Italy where the climate was better for his lungs. This meant he was unable to conduct his daughter’s wedding ceremony. Nevertheless, Lyte always appeared cheerful and interested in current affairs. He returned to England for the summer of 1847, where he preached for the final time before heading back to Italy. In November, he passed away in Nice. His final words were recorded as “Peace! Joy!”
"Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven; To his feet thy tribute bring. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Who like me his praise should sing?"
~ Henry Francis Lyte
Augustus Montague Toplady was an Anglican cleric and hymn writer best known for the hymn Rock of Ages. Not many of his songs are sung today but he is still worth remembering for being a Calvinist and major opponent of John Wesley.
Toplady was born in November 1740 in Farnham, Surrey, to Richard, an Irish commissioned officer of the Royal Marines, and Catherine. Unfortunately, Toplady’s father died from yellow fever during the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-42) leaving Catherine to raise their son alone. Catherine relocated to London so that Toplady could attend Westminster School from 1750 to 1755, after which they moved to Ireland.
In Dublin, Toplady enrolled in Trinity College where he heard a sermon preached by James Morris, a follower of John Wesley. Inspired by this, Toplady initially followed Methodist ideas until he read a book by a Calvinist author when he was 18 years old.
Following his graduation in 1760, Toplady and his mother returned to Westminster where he met several Calvinist ministers. In 1762, the Bishop of Bath and Wells appointed Toplady curate of Blagdon, in Somerset. It was whilst he was in Blagdon that he composed Rock of Ages.
In 1763, Toplady was walking along the gorge of Burrington Combe in the Mendip Hills near Blagdon when he was caught in a storm. His only shelter was a fissure in the gorge and it was while he sat there waiting out the storm that the initial lyrics of Rock of Ages came to him. The hymn is also based on Psalm 94:22, which says, “But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.” The fissure that is believed to have sheltered Toplady is known today as “Rock of Ages”.
Toplady was ordained as a priest in 1764 and served briefly as a curate of Farleigh Hungerford in Somerset. His next post was in Devon where he became incumbent of Harpford and Venn Ottery, which he later exchanged for the post of vicar of Broadhembury. He kept this post until his death.
Although Toplady never married, he had relationships with a couple of women. The first was Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon, who founded a small society of Calvinist Methodist chapels. Toplady preached in a few of her chapels but seemingly their relationship did not last. The second was Catherine Macaulay, a historian, who Toplady spent considerable time with between 1773 and 1777.
During his life, Toplady wrote several books, beginning with Poems on Sacred Subjects while he was studying in Dublin. He wrote on a wide variety of topics, including animals and the natural world. In some of his works, he marvels on the behaviour of birds and his observations of nature, however, he also applied religious teachings, such as in his speech on Whether unnecessary cruelty to the brute creation is not criminal?
Although he remained the vicar of Broadhembury, Toplady spent his final three years in London, preaching regularly at a French Calvinist chapel at Orange Street. This can be found behind the National Gallery. Unfortunately, Toplady was never able to return to his parish having succumbed to tuberculosis on 11th August 1778. He was buried at Whitefield’s Tabernacle on Tottenham Court Road.
Hymns by Toplady, although not well known, include:
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee."
~ Augustus Toplady
Most people will have heard of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, however, his brother Charles was equally important. During his life, Charles wrote about 6,500 hymns, many of which are familiar today.
Charles was the eighteenth child of Susanna and Samuel Wesley, born on 18th December 1707 in Epworth, Lincolnshire. Charles decided to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a rector and was ordained whilst studying at Christ Church, Oxford. Whilst at university, Charles formed a prayer group with his friends; however, his brother John later took over the group. Known for their methodical approach to Bible study, other students mocked them, calling them the “Holy Club”, “Sacramentarians”, and “the Methodists.”
After university, which Charles graduated with a master’s degree in classical languages and literature, he and John followed their father into Anglican orders. In 1935, Charles and John sailed to Savannah in Georgia Colony (later State) where he was appointed secretary of Indian Affairs. He then became a chaplain at a small garrison but, after bad experiences, returned to England in August 1736.
Back in England, Charles experienced an evangelical conversion, which urged him to spread the Gospel to ordinary people. Although he spent a lot of time preaching, often in the open air, Charles’ main contribution was his poetic hymns. Within these hymns, he tried to communicate several themes, including the Holy Spirit, the depravity of mankind, and the relationship between humans and God. Not only did his hymns aid the spread of Methodism, but they also had a significant influence on modern theology in general.
Recognisable hymns include:
Charles Wesley’s hymns will likely be sung forever, particularly since he was listed in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1995. Two of his hymns, “Lo! He Comes…” and “Hark! The Herald…” are two of the so-called Great Four Anglican Hymns.
Since Charles spent the majority of his time writing and preaching, his family often came with him on his journeys across Britain. In 1749, Charles married Sarah Gwynne, the daughter of a Welsh magistrate who had converted to Methodism. They had seven children in total, however, only three survived infancy: Charles Junior, Sarah “Sally” and Samuel. Both boys were musical prodigies and became organists and composers. Charles Junior became the personal organist of the Royal Family and Samuel became one of the most accomplished musicians in the world, earning the title “the English Mozart”.
From 1756 onwards, Charles was mostly travelling between Bristol and London but, in 1771, decided to make London his permanent home. He purchased 1 Chesterfield Street (now Wheatley Street), Marylebone, where he and his family remained until Charles died in 1788.
Charles Wesley died on 29th March 1788 at the age of 80. Since he still considered himself to be a member of the Church of England, despite helping to form Methodism, he was buried in the St Marylebone Parish Church graveyard.
"The Bible must be the invention either of good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God. However, it was not written by good men, because good men would not tell lies by saying 'Thus saith the Lord;' it was not written by bad men because they would not write about doing good duty, while condemning sin, and themselves to hell; thus, it must be written by divine inspiration"
~ Charles Wesley
Araminta “Minty” Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland but later escaped and became one of the main leaders of the “Underground Railroad” which led hundreds of slaves to freedom. It is not certain when Harriet and her eight siblings were born but it is estimated to be between 1815 and 1825. Plantation owners owned her parents, Harriet “Rit” Green and Ben Ross, and some of their children were sold to other plantations in other states.
Physical violence was a common occurrence for Harriet and her family, particularly in the form of whipping. Harriet carried scars on her back for the rest of her life. On one occasion, when she refused to do something, Harriet’s overseer threw a two-pound weight at her head, knocking her out. This led to seizures, headaches and narcolepsy, which she suffered for the rest of her life. On the other hand, the seizures caused her to fall into intense dream states, which she believed to be religious experiences.
Harriet’s father became a free man at the age of 45, however, having nowhere to go, he remained working on the plantation in slave-like conditions. He did not feel he could leave his family, who remained in the possession of the plantation owners. Even when Harriet married John Tubman, a free man, in 1844, she was not released from slavery.
In 1849, Harriet made her first trip from South to North following a network known as the Underground Railroad. Following the death of her owner, Harriet decided to escape from slavery and run away to Philadelphia. On 17thSeptember 1849, Harriet and two of her brothers began the long journey but after they learnt that Harriet was being sought in the papers for a reward of $300, the boys had second thoughts and returned home. Harriet’s husband had also refused to go with her and later took on a new wife.
Continuing alone, Harriet travelled almost 90 miles to Philadelphia where she finally entered a Free State. “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.” But this was not the end of Harriet’s story. No sooner had she arrived that she returned to the South to help more than 300 people escape from slavery. Between 1850 and 1860, Harriet made 19 trips, the first being to help her niece Kessiah and family escape the harsh conditions.
Things became harder when the Fugitive Slave Law came into practice, stating that escaped slaves could be arrested and returned to their owners even if they were living in Free States. Nonetheless, Harriet persevered, rerouting the Underground Railroad to Canada.
Harriet had a prophetic vision about the abolitionist John Brown, who she later met in 1858. Although Brown advocated violence, he ultimately wanted the same result as Harriet and they began working together. Unfortunately, Brown was arrested and executed for which Harriet praised him as a martyr.
During the Civil War, Harriet entered the Union Army as a cook and nurse, although ended up working as an armed scout and spy. She was the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the war, which resulted in the liberation of over 700 slaves in South Carolina.
In 1859, Harriet bought a small piece of land near Auburn, New York from fellow abolitionist Senator William H. Seward. Ten years later, she married Civil War veteran Nelson Davis and in 1874 adopted a baby girl called Gertie. They lived happily in their own home, however, were never financially secure. Friends and supporters endeavoured to raise money for her. One fan, Sarah H. Bradford wrote Harriet’s biography and gave her all the proceeds.
In 1903, Harriet opened her land to the African Methodist Episcopal Church and, five years later, opened the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged. Sadly, Harriet’s health was not good. The physical abuse she received as a slave caused her severe problems, resulting in brain surgery to alleviate some of the pain. She eventually died in 1917 from pneumonia and was buried at Fort Hill Cemetery with military honours.
At the end of the 20th century, Harriet Tubman was named one of the most famous civilians in American History and she is soon to be the face on the new $20 bill. Yet, outside of America, Harriet remains unknown, however, last year a film was released titled Harriet, which documents her life as a conductor of the Underground Railroad. A Woman Called Moses from 1978 also documented her career. So, perhaps Harriet Tubman may not remain unknown in Europe for long.
I was due to attend Spring Harvest this Easter but, for obvious reasons, it was cancelled. Fortunately, all the talks, services and so forth were uploaded to YouTube, so I did not miss out. During one of the sessions, I learnt about a woman called Henrietta Mears and thought you would like to know a bit about her too.
Henrietta Cornelia Mears was born on 23rd October 1890 in North Dakota, the seventh child of a banker and a Baptist laywoman. When she started Kindergarten, Henrietta protested saying it was “to amuse little children, and I'm amused enough. I want to be educated." Following this, at the age of seven, Henrietta declared she was ready to become a Christian and joined the First Baptist Church of Minneapolis, near where the family had moved in 1893/4.
Sadly, Henrietta was a sickly child and by the age of 12 had developed muscular rheumatism. Her condition began to improve, which she believed to be the result of healing prayers, however, her eyesight worsened. She was advised to give up on her education by doctors who believed that if she continued to study, she would be blind by the age of 30. Yet, Henrietta was steadfast in her aim to attend the University of Minnesota and put her foot down, saying, "Then blind I shall be—but I want something in my head to think about." Fortunately, she was still able to see when she graduated in 1913 and began to teach chemistry at the Central High School in Minneapolis.
Henrietta continued to attend the First Baptist Church where she was encouraged to turn Sunday Schools into educational opportunities. After working there for ten years, Henrietta took a sabbatical year to think about where to enter Christian work full-time. Whilst there, she visited the First Presbyterian Church Hollywood and met the pastor, Stuart MacLennan, who offered her the position of Director of Christian Education.
The new role meant Henrietta had to permanently move to California, where she was put in charge of training Sunday School teachers. She implemented an age-appropriate curriculum that covered everyone from birth to adulthood. She believed Sunday Schools were the best way to teach others about the Bible.
Within two years, attendance at the Sunday school had risen from 450 to more than 4200 young people per week. Her training program attracted 6500 people and she delivered many of the lessons herself.
Henrietta Mears has been heralded one of the most influential Christian leaders of the 20th century. She founded Gospel Light, a publishing company to print her training materials and set up Forest Home, a Christian conference centre. She also pioneered Gospel Literature International, which inspired the ministries of hundreds of people, including the evangelist Billy Graham (1918-2018).
Although Henrietta Mears did not invent the concept of Sunday school, she completely changer its purpose and how it was run. Sunday schools today still follow her guidelines and her book, What the Bible is All About, has sold over 3 million copies. Sadly, we have no children in our church at the moment, but when we do in the future, we can look to Henrietta Mears as a model for our Sunday School.
Melchizedek, “king of righteousness”, was the King of Salem mentioned in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis.
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was [is] the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, 'Blessed be Abram to the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand'. And he gave him tithe from all.
The narrative is part of the story of Abram and his defeat of King Chedorlaomer of Elam. Abram is on his way home from rescuing his nephew Lot from Elam when he meets Melchizedek. The king, who was also a priest, gave Abram bread and wine (a reference to the future Eucharist, perhaps), and blessed Abram in the name of “the most high God.” What is important to note here is that Melchizedek says “God” rather than “gods”. At this time in history, societies believed in more than one god and it is usually Abram (later Abraham) who is credited with being the first to preach about a single God. This text, however, implies Melchizedek may have been first.
In return for Melchizedek’s blessing, Abram gave the priest a tithe (a tenth) of the loot he had gathered during his campaign against Chedorlaomer and allies. In this single act, Abram acknowledged he recognised Melchizedek as a priest with a higher spiritual rank than him. At no other point in the Bible does anyone recognise the authority and authenticity of a Canaanite priest/king in such a way.
Psalm 110, written by David, gives credence to the theory that Melchizedek was the first monotheistic priest. “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4) This almost gives Melchizedek Christ-like status. Not only was he the first priest, but all future priests are living in his shadow.
The story of Abram meeting Melchizedek is repeated in the seventh chapter of Hebrews. The writer describes Melchizedek as “without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (7:3) How could Melchizedek have no father or mother? Did God make him in a similar way to Adam and Eve, or was he a Son of God? Unfortunately, no more is said on the matter.
The text in Hebrews acknowledges that the priests, the descendants of Levi, are also descended from Abram. It is not known if Melchizedek had children, however, his superior blessing of the inferior Abram was passed down through Abram’s descendants.
Some scholars have suggested Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ – a Christophany. In Hebrews 6:20, it says, “Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Taken literally, this implied Jesus was ordained in the order of Melchizedek, however, where is the evidence this order existed? Although the Levite priests descended from someone who had been blessed by Melchizedek, it does not say they were part of the order of Melchizedek. The only people mentioned in connection with the order are Melchizedek and Jesus. This has led many to believe they were the same person.
The name Melchizedek meant “king of righteousness” and Salem, the land he ruled, meant “peace”. Therefore, Melchizedek could be said to be the “King of Peace”. Is not “King of Peace” also an epithet for Jesus Christ?
As with all mysteries of the Bible, there is no proof that Melchizedek and Jesus are the same person or incarnation. People can speculate all they like but it is impossible to come up with an answer. What can be ascertained from the Bible is Melchizedek was a king as well as a priest. He believed in one God, as evidenced in his blessing of Abram. Melchizedek was deemed worthy in Abram’s eyes, hence he gave a tenth of his spoils. This is all that can be said with a degree of certainty.
Melchizedek is also a 30-litre wine bottle often used for champagne but, whilst this may have been named after the priest-king, it has no reflection on his character!
Finally, we reach the thirteenth disciple – yes, you read that right. According to the Acts of the Apostle, written between 80 and 90 AD, the Apostles chose someone to replace Judas Iscariot. Matthias is different from the other disciples in that Jesus, who had already ascended into heaven, did not choose him.
In Acts 1, Peter announced to the other disciples, “It is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us.” (1:21-22) Two men were nominated: Joseph Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias. Lots were drawn and Matthias was added to the eleven apostles.
Nothing else is found about Matthias in the canonical New Testament, however, it can be inferred that Matthias had been a follower of Jesus for the past few years. Nonetheless, non-canonical documents report that Matthias, like the other disciples, travelled from place to place, preaching the Gospel. Traditionally, Matthias is associated with the arrival of Christianity in Cappadocia and the countries bordering the Caspian Sea.
According to the 14th-century Greek ecclesiastical historian, Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopulus, Matthias began preaching in his home region of Judea before travelling to modern-day Georgia, where he was stoned to death. A marker within the ruins of a Roman fortress claims Matthias was buried there.
Other sources record Matthias preaching in Ethiopia. The Coptic book Acts of Andrew and Matthias claims the disciples were “in the city of the cannibals in Aethiopia.” The Synopsis of Dorotheus corroborates this, saying, "Matthias preached the Gospel to barbarians and meat-eaters in the interior of Ethiopia, where the sea harbour of Hyssus is, at the mouth of the river Phasis. He died at Sebastopolis, and was buried there, near the Temple of the Sun." Sebastopolis is in modern-day Turkey, therefore, this statement goes against the theory that Matthias died in Georgia.
A third theory suggests Matthias was stoned in Jerusalem, perhaps taking on Judas’ punishment, and then beheaded. On the other hand, Hippolytus of Rome believed Matthias died of old age.
Fragments survive of the apocryphal Gospel of Matthias, which suggests Matthias believed in a life of abstinence. “We must combat our flesh, set no value upon it, and concede to it nothing that can flatter it, but rather increase the growth of our soul by faith and knowledge.”
Similar to the other disciples, minus Judas, Matthias was venerated by the Roman Church in the 11th Century. He was given the 24th February as his feast day (25th in Leap Years); however, this was later changed to 14th May so that it would not coincide with Lent. Legend claims Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, brought Matthias’ remains to Italy where they were interred in the Abbey of Santa Giustina, Padua, with some being sent to the Abbey of Matthias in Germany. This, however, goes against the claim that Matthias is buried in Georgia.
Just for fun, these are the things that claim Matthias as their patron saint:
Eternal God, who are the light of the minds that know you, the joy of the hearts that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you; grant us so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom, in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Here is my heart, O God; here it is with all its secrets. Look into my thoughts, O my hope, and take away all my wrong feelings. Let my eyes be ever on you and release my feet from the snare. I ask you to live with me, to reign in me, to make this heart of mine a holy temple, a fit dwelling for your divine majesty.
Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know you, and desire nothing save only you. Let me hate myself and love you. Let me do everything for the sake of you. Let me humble myself and exalt you. Let me think of nothing except you. Let me die to myself and live in you. Let me accept whatever happens as from you. Let me banish self and follow you, and ever desire to follow you. Let me fly from myself and take refuge in you that I may deserve to be defended by you. Let me fear for myself, let me fear you, and let me be among those who are chosen by you. Let me distrust myself and put my trust in you. Let me be willing to obey for the sake of you. Let me cling to nothing save only to you, and let me be poor because of you. Look upon me, that I may love you. Call me that I may see you, and forever enjoy you.
Lord, our God, we are in the shadow of your wings. Protect us and bear us up. You will care for us as if we were little children, even to our old age. When you are our strength, we are strong; but when we are our own strength, we are weak. Our good always lives in your presence, and we suffer when we turn our faces away from you. We now return to you, O Lord that we may never turn away again.
Lead us, O God, from the sight of the lovely things of the world
To the thought of thee their Creator;
And grant that delighting in the beautiful things of thy creation,
we may delight in thee, the first author of beauty
and the Sovereign Lord of all thy works, blessed for evermore.
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Lord, grant that I may always allow myself to be guided by You,
always follow Your plans,
and perfectly accomplish Your Holy Will.
Grant that in all things, great and small,
today and all the days of my life,
I may do whatever You require of me.
Help me respond to the slightest prompting of Your Grace,
so that I may be Your trustworthy instrument for Your honour.
May Your Will be done in time and in eternity by me,
in me, and through me.
Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
Lord, you are closer to me than my own breath, nearer to me than my
hands and feet.
Lord, You know better than I myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking
I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.
Release me from craving to
straighten out everybody’s affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody;
helpful but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom,
it seems a pity not to use it all;
but You know, Lord,
that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details;
give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains;
they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
I dare not ask for improved memory,
but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person
is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places
and talents in unexpected people;
and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon