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My apologies for not posting Forbidden Bible Verses today.

I intend to schedule it for tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I had something to do this afternoon which took much longer than expected and had to be done within a particular deadline. It’s finished now and I can truly agree, once again, that there is a wideness in God’s mercy.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy is a hymn that Dr Frederick William Faber, a clergyman with a Doctor of Divinity degree, wrote in 1862 to the melody of WELLESLEY (Tourjee).

Since then, Dr Faber’s lyrics have been adapted to other melodies, such as Corvedale by Maurice Bevan (b. 1921), sung below by the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, London:

The hymn is widely sung across many denominations and appears in 785 hymnals.

Hymnary.org has the lyrics to Faber’s hymn:

1 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven.
There is no place where earth’s failings
have such kindly judgment given.

2 For the love of God is broader
than the measures of the mind.
And the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we would gladly trust God’s Word,
and our lives reflect thanksgiving
for the goodness of our Lord.

Faber was part of the Oxford Movement — members of the Church of England who moved to High Church (traditional Roman Catholic-style) liturgy — in the 19th century. The movement later became known as Anglo-Catholicism and exists today.

John Henry Newman was one of the Oxford Movement adherents. He eventually became not only a Roman Catholic but also a Cardinal.

Faber also ‘crossed the Tiber’ and became a Roman Catholic in 1846. Hymnary.org tells us that he was the son of a Church of England clergyman, Mr T H Faber, and:

was born at Calverley Vicarage, Yorkshire, June 28, 1814, and educated at Balliol College, Oxford, graduating B.A. in 1836. He was for some time a Fellow of University College, in the same University. Taking Holy Orders in 1837, he became Rector of Elton, Huntingdonshire, in 1843, but in 1846 he seceded to the Church of Rome. After residing for some time at St. Wilfrid’s, Staffordshire, he went to London in 1849, and established the London “Oratorians,” or, “Priests of the Congregation of St. Philip Neri,” in King William Street, Strand. In 1854 the Oratory was removed to Brompton. Dr. Faber died Sept. 26, 1863.

Balliol College is one of the foremost Oxford colleges. It is interesting that Faber served a parish in Huntingdonshire, part of Cambridgeshire, which was known for its Low Church adherence. During Cromwell’s time, two centuries earlier, Cambridgeshire was Calvinistic in belief, the very antithesis of High Church beliefs and worship.

Anyone who knows London will also know that the London Oratory is one of the centres of the capital’s Roman Catholic worship. The Oratory also has a famous boys’ school, which is over-subscribed year on year.

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My thanks to Lleweton for sending information on this English chaplain and poet from the Great War.

Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy (June 27, 1883 – March 8, 1929) is today remembered byGeoffrey Studdert Kennedy Woodbine Willie Northern Echo WOODBI~2 the Church of England and the Episcopal Church on March 8.

Studdert Kennedy was known for distributing New Testaments along with Woodbines to troops before and after battle. He also wrote poems, including some frank descriptions of what happened in the trenches. ‘To Stretcher Bearers’ — the first stanza of which follows — is one of them:

Easy does it — bit o’ trench ‘ere,
Mind that blinkin’ bit o’ wire,
There’s a shell ‘ole on your left there,
Lift ‘im up a little ‘igher.
Stick it, lad, ye’ll soon be there now,
Want to rest ‘ere for a while?
Let ‘im dahn then — gently — gently,
There ye are, lad. That’s the style.
Want a drink, mate? ‘Ere’s my bottle,
Lift ‘is ‘ead up for ‘im, Jack,
Put my tunic underneath ‘im,
‘Ow’s that, chummy? That’s the tack!
Guess we’d better make a start now,
Ready for another spell?
Best be goin’, we won’t ‘urt ye,
But ‘e might just start to shell.
Are ye right, mate? Off we goes then.
That’s well over on the right,
Gawd Almighty, that’s a near ‘un!
‘Old your end up good and tight,
Never mind, lad, you’re for Blighty,
Mind this rotten bit o’ board.

Studdert Kennedy was the seventh of nine children born to Jeannette Anketell and the Revd William Studdert Kennedy, who was the vicar of St Mary’s, Quarry Hill in Leeds. (Studdert Kennedy is the surname, by the way, not Kennedy.)

After finishing his studies at Leeds Grammar School, he went to Ireland for university, earning a degree in Classics and Divinity from Trinity College (alma mater of Jonathan Swift and other luminaries) in 1904.

He then returned to England and studied for a year at Ripon Clergy College in Ripon, Yorkshire. In Februrary 2013, the Ripon Civic Society mounted one of their green plaques at the site of the former college to remember the famous chaplain. Ripon College Cuddesdon, incidentally, is the successor to Ripon Clergy College.

Studdert Kennedy’s first posting was as a curate to a church in Rugby. In 1914, he was appointed vicar of St Paul’s in Worcester.

His time in Worcester was to be short-lived, however. When war broke out, he soon volunteered to be an Army chaplain. His ministry took him to the Western Front, where he saw the atrocities of war up close.

Woodbine Cigarettes WOODBI~1The Northern Echo newspaper explains (emphases mine):

The Rev Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy became one of the best known figures on the Western Front for giving Woodbine cigarettes, a copy of the New Testament and spiritual aid to soldiers before battle as well as their injured and dying comrades.

The cleric, who trained at Ripon Clergy College, won the Military Cross for running into no man’s land at Messines Ridge, Flanders, to help the wounded during an attack on the German frontline …

Six years after completing his training at the Princess Road college, which closed in 1915, the Rev Kennedy, volunteered as an Army chaplain aged 31, and became attached to a bayonet-training service.

While touring the Western Front with boxers and wrestlers, he gave morale-boosting speeches about the usefulness of the bayonet and became known for his heavy smoking, despite suffering asthma having been exposed to mustard gas.

It should be noted here that some asthma sufferers find relief from smoking cigarettes. There were also no pocket-sized inhalers in those days.

The article gives us an idea of Studdert Kennedy’s pastoral manner, particularly appropriate for men who, in some cases, had only minutes to live:

He often became embroiled in battles and soldiers told how the Rev Kennedy once crawled to a working party putting up wire in front of their trench.

When a nervous soldier asked him who he was, he replied “The church.” And when the soldier asked what the church was doing there, he replied “Its job”.

Soldiers said they liked the chaplain for his irreverent preaching style and salty language, while he described his chaplain’s ministry as taking “a box of fags in your haversack, and a great deal of love in your heart”.

After the Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m., Studdert Kennedy returned to England and was appointed priest-in-charge of St Edmund, King and Martyr in Lombard Street in the City (financial district) of London.

He published two volumes of poems in the aftermath of the war, Rough Rhymes of a Padre (1918) and More Rough Rhymes (1919). These poems and others helped to make him

the country’s most famous religious author.

It wasn’t long before Studdert Kennedy made his political views clear. These he had absorbed during the War. He became what is known as a ‘Christian socialist’, although, in reality, you can be a Christian or a socialist, but not both. He was also a pacifist.

He wrote hard-hitting works: Lies (1919), Democracy and the Dog-Collar (1921) (featuring such chapters as “The Church Is Not a Movement but a Mob,” “Capitalism is Nothing But Greed, Grab, and Profit-Mongering,” and “So-Called Religious Education Worse than Useless”), Food for the Fed Up (1921), The Wicket Gate (1923), and The Word and the Work (1925).

He left St Edmund’s to tour the country as part of the Industrial Christian Fellowship. He was taken ill during a speaking engagement in Liverpool, where he died in 1929.

There:

a crowd of more than 2,000 turned out for his funeral procession, and tossed packets of Woodbines onto the passing cortege.

The citation for Studdert Kennedy’s Military Cross reads as follows:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He showed the greatest courage and disregard for his own safety in attending to the wounded under heavy fire. He searched shell holes for our own and enemy wounded, assisting them to the dressing station, and his cheerfulness and endurance had a splendid effect upon all ranks in the front line trenches, which he constantly visited.

Photo credits: Northern Echo

David_Suchet WikipediaRegular readers know that I often emphasise the importance of reading the Bible, particularly the New Testament.

To paraphrase the 17th century Bible scholar Matthew Henry, the New Testament is the key which unlocks the Old Testament. Everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ.

In the past, I have recommended that those wanting to know more about Christ begin by reading the Gospels of Sts John and Mark.

Other Protestants are quite keen on encouraging potential converts to read the letters of St Paul.

On this note, I read the following quote from David ‘Poirot’ Suchet (pron. ‘soo-shay’) in a recent edition of the Radio Times (15-21 June 2013, p. 157):

… my conversion to Christianity began after reading St Paul’s letters in 1986.

Suchet recently won the magazine’s Readers’ Award for religious broadcasting for presenting David Suchet: In the Footsteps of St Paul which aired on BBC1. This award was part of the Sandford St Martin Trust Awards for religious broadcasting held on Monday, June 3, 2013, at Lambeth Palace in London.

I have not seen the programme. So many British series on Christianity are revisionist. However, if this is rerun, I shall try to view it.

Suchet and his other brothers Peter and John, the latter a television presenter and former newsreader, are the sons of a Jewish gynecologist and a nominally Anglican actress. The boys were raised with no religion.

Today:

On 22 November 2012, the British Bible Society announced the appointment of David Suchet and Dr. Paula Gooder as new vice-presidents. They joined the existing vice-presidents: John Sentamu (Archbishop of York), Vincent Nichols (Archbishop of Westminster), Barry Morgan (Archbishop of Wales), David Ford (Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge), Joel Edwards (International Director of Micah Challenge) and Lord Alton of Liverpool.[24]

David Suchet became a practising Anglican in 1986 and was confirmed in the faith in 2006.

He came to Christianity by reading Romans 8 whilst staying in a hotel.

This is further proof that hotels should continue to accept Gideon Bibles; some no longer do.

Although I always read the Bible when staying in a hotel, it is always a pleasure to discover that I am not alone.

One can indeed come to faith and find solace by reading the oft-ignored volume in the bedside stand drawer.

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