OREMUS: 26 October 2005

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Oct 25 23:03:23 GMT 2005

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OREMUS for Wednesday, October 26, 2005 
Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, Scholar, 899

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, Holy God,
your justice is without partiality
and your  mercy embraces all who live.
You have shown us through your Son
that through love of you and our neighbor,
hatred may yield to forgiveness
and quarrels give way to reconciliation.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever.

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 71

In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;*
 let me never be ashamed.
In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;*
 incline your ear to me and save me.
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe;*
 you are my crag and my stronghold.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,*
 from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.
For you are my hope, O Lord God,*
 my confidence since I was young.
I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;
   from my mother's womb you have been my strength;*
 my praise shall be always of you.
I have become a portent to many;*
 but you are my refuge and my strength.
Let my mouth be full of your praise*
 and your glory all the day long.
Do not cast me off in my old age;*
 forsake me not when my strength fails.
For my enemies are talking against me,*
 and those who lie in wait for my life
   take counsel together.
They say, 'God has forsaken him;
   go after him and seize him;*
 because there is none who will save.'
O God, be not far from me;*
 come quickly to help me, O my God.
Let those who set themselves against me
   be put to shame and be disgraced;*
 let those who seek to do me evil
   be covered with scorn and reproach.
But I shall always wait in patience,*
 and shall praise you more and more.
My mouth shall recount your mighty acts
   and saving deeds all day long;*
 though I cannot know the number of them.
I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord God;*
 I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, you have taught me since I was young,*
 and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.
And now that I am old and grey-headed, O God,
   do not forsake me,*
 till I make known your strength to this generation
   and your power to all who are to come.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens;*
 you have done great things; who is like you, O God?
You have showed me great troubles and adversities,*
 but you will restore my life and bring me up again
   from the deep places of the earth.
You strengthen me more and more;*
 you enfold and comfort me,
Therefore I will praise you upon the lyre
   for your faithfulness, O my God;*
 I will sing to you with the harp, O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will sing with joy when I play to you,*
 and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.
My tongue will proclaim your righteousness all day long,*
 for they are ashamed and disgraced
   who sought to do me harm.

A Song of the Messiah (from Isaiah 9

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
upon them the light has dawned.

You have increased their joy and given them great gladness;
they rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest.

For you have shattered the yoke that burdened them;
the collar that lay heavy on their shoulders.

For to us a child is born and to us a son is given,
and the government will be upon his shoulder.

And his name will be called: Wonderful Counsellor,
the Mighty God;
the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,

Upon the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish and uphold it with justice and righteousness.

>From this time forth and for evermore;
the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 

Psalm 147:13-end

Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem;*
 praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;*
 he has blessed your children within you.
He has established peace on your borders;*
 he satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth,*
 and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;*
 he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He scatters his hail like bread crumbs;*
 who can stand against his cold?
He sends forth his word and melts them;*
 he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,*
 his statutes and his judgements to Israel.
He has not done so to any other nation;*
 to them he has not revealed his judgements.

READING [Joshua 2:15-24]:

Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for
her house was on the outer side of the city wall and she
resided within the wall itself. She said to them, 'Go
towards the hill country, so that the pursuers may not
come upon you. Hide yourselves there for three days,
until the pursuers have returned; then afterwards you may
go on your way.' The men said to her, 'We will be
released from this oath that you have made us swear to
you if we invade the land and you do not tie this crimson
cord in the window through which you let us down, and you
do not gather into your house your father and mother,
your brothers, and all your family. If any of you go out
of the doors of your house into the street, they shall be
responsible for their own death, and we shall be
innocent; but if a hand is laid upon any who are with you
in the house, we shall bear the responsibility for their
death. But if you tell this business of ours, then we
shall be released from this oath that you made us swear
to you.' She said, 'According to your words, so be it.'
She sent them away and they departed. Then she tied the
crimson cord in the window.
They departed and went into the hill country and stayed
there for three days, until the pursuers returned. The
pursuers had searched all along the way and found
nothing. Then the two men came down again from the hill
country. They crossed over, came to Joshua son of Nun,
and told him all that had happened to them. They said to
Joshua, 'Truly the LORD has given all the land into our
hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land melt in
fear before us.' 

For another Biblical reading,
Galatians 4:1-7

Words: Alan Gaunt (c)
Tune: Donne secours  
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As powers of good so wonderfully hide us,
we face the future boldly, come what may;
at dawn or dusk our God is still beside us,
to whom we trust, completely, each new day.

Yet still old torments cause consternation;
through days of fear and grief we have despaired.
O, give our tortured souls, Lord, your salvation:
the healing you have promised and prepared.

Then offer us the cup of desolation,
brimfull of bitterness, and we will stand
and drink with thanks, in spite of trepidation,
from such a dearly loved and gracious hand.

Yet should you bring us back to share the gladness
of this bright world, your sunshine breaking through,
we would remember times of pain and sadness
and offer up the whole of life to you.

As evening falls, the candles we have lighted
will point us through the darkness to your light;
we long to be with loved ones, reunited;
we know your love outshines the darkest night.

As silence deepens, let us hear the chorus
that harmonizes earth's discordant days,
poured out from the unseen that lies before us:
your children's soaring song of endless praise.

By powers of good so faithfully surrounded,
secure and comforted in spite of fear,
we live each day with you Lord, unconfounded,
and go with you to meet the coming year.

The Benedictus (Morning), the 
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

We pray for the use of God's gifts to his Church, saying
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy, hear us

God our Father,
you give us gifts that we may work together
in the service of your Son:
Bless those who lead,
that they may be firm in faith, 
yet humble before you.
We pray especially for the people of the Diocese
of St Asaph, Wales, The Rt Revd John Stewart Davies, Bishop.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who teach,
that they may increase our understanding,    
and be open to your word for them:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who minister healing,
that they may bring wholeness to other, 
yet know your healing in themselves:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those through whom you speak,
that they may proclaim your word in power,
yet have their ears open to your gentle whisper:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who work in your world today
that they may live for you, fulfil your purposes,
and seek your kingdom first
in the complexity of their daily lives.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who feel they have no gifts and are not valued,
and those who are powerless by the world's standards,
that they may share their experience
of the work of your Spirit.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Faithful God, living Saviour,
in youth and old age,
in weakness and adversity,
from the womb to the grave,
may we know your protection
and proclaim your great salvation
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God, our maker and redeemer,
we pray you of your great mercy
and by the power of your holy cross
to guide us by your will and to shield us from our foes:
that, after the example of your servant Alfred,
we may inwardly love you above all things;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

May the coming of Christ in glory find us
ever watchful in prayer,
strong in truth and love,
and faithful in the breaking of the bread.
Then, at last, all peoples will be free,
and all divisions healed. Amen.

The psalms, first collect and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer are from
_Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of
Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The closing prayer use phrases from a prayer in _Book of Common
Worship_, (c) 1993 Westminster / John Knox Press. 

The intecession is from _Patterns for Worship_, material from
which is included in this service is copyright (c) The Archbishops'
Council, 1995.

The second collect is from _Common Worship: Services and Prayers for
the Church of England_, material from which is included in this service is
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

When the Gospel was first preached in Britain, the island was inhabited by
Celtic peoples. In the 400's, pagan Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and
Jutes, invaded Britain and drove the Christian Celts out of what is now
England into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The new arrivals (called collectively
the Anglo-Saxons) were then converted by Celtic missionaries moving in from
the one side and Roman missionaries moving in from the other. (They then sent
missionaries of their own, such as Boniface, to their pagan relatives on the
In the 800's the cycle partly repeated itself, as the Christian Anglo-Saxons were
invaded by the Danes, pagan raiders, who rapidly conquered the northeast
portion of England. They seemed about to conquer the entire country and
eliminate all resistance when they were turned back by Alfred, King of the
West Saxons.
Alfred was born in 849 at Wantage, Berkshire, youngest of five sons of King
Aethelwulf. He wished to become a monk, but after the deaths (all in battle, I
think) of his father and his four older brothers, he was made king in 871. He
proved to be skilled at military tactics, and devised a defensive formation which
the Danish charge was unable to break. After a decisive victory at Edington in
878, he reached an agreement with the Danish leader Guthrum, by which the
Danes would retain a portion of northeastern England and be given other
concessions in return for their agreement to accept baptism and Christian
instruction. From a later point of view, it seems obvious that such a promise
could not involve a genuine change of heart, and was therefore meaningless
(and indeed, one Dane complained that the white robe that he was given after
his baptism was not nearly so fine as the two that he had received after the two
previous times that he had been defeated and baptized). However, Alfred's
judgement proved sound. Guthrum, from his point of view, agreed to become a
vassal of Christ. His nobles and chief warriors, being his vassals, were thereby
obligated to give their feudal allegiance to Christ as well. They accepted
baptism and the presence among them of Christian priests and missionaries to
instruct them. The door was opened for conversions on a more personal level
in that and succeeding generations.
In his later years, having secured a large degree of military security for his
people, Alfred devoted his energies to repairing the damage that war had done
to the cultural life of his people. He translated Boethius's Consolations of
Philosophy into Old English, and brought in scholars from Wales and the
Continent with whose help various writings of Bede, Augustine of Canterbury,
and Gregory the Great were likewise translated. He was much impressed by
the provisions in the Law of Moses for the protection of the rights of ordinary
citizens, and gave order that similar provisions should be made part of English
law. He promoted the education of the parish clergy. In one of his treatises, he
"He seems to me a very foolish man, and very wretched, who will not increase
his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that
endless life where all shall be made clear."
He died on 26 October 899, and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester.
Alone among English monarchs, he is known as "the Great." [James Kiefer,
slightly abridged]

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