OREMUS: 5 August 2006

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Fri Aug 4 20:50:53 GMT 2006

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OREMUS for Saturday, August 5, 2006 
Oswald, King of Northumbria, Martyr, 642

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

Blessed are you, O God,
the giver of every gift that endures.
By the word of your Son,
you challenge our foolishness,
confront our greed,
and shape our lives
to the wisdom of the Gospel.
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 88

O Lord, my God, my Saviour,*
 by day and night I cry to you.
Let my prayer enter into your presence;*
 incline your ear to my lamentation.
For I am full of trouble;*
 my life is at the brink of the grave.
I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;*
 I have become like one who has no strength;
Lost among the dead,*
 like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom you remember no more,*
 for they are cut off from your hand.
You have laid me in the depths of the Pit,*
 in dark places and in the abyss.
Your anger weighs upon me heavily,*
 and all your great waves overwhelm me.
You have put my friends far from me;
   you have made me to be abhorred by them;*
 I am in prison and cannot get free.
My sight has failed me because of trouble;*
 Lord, I have called upon you daily;
   I have stretched out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?*
 will those who have died
   stand up and give you thanks?
Will your loving-kindness be declared in the grave?*
 your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
Will your wonders be known in the dark?*
 or your righteousness in the country
   where all is forgotten?
But as for me, O Lord, I cry to you for help;*
 in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Lord, why have you rejected me?*
 why have you hidden your face from me?
Ever since my youth,
   I have been wretched and at the point of death;*
 I have borne your terrors with a troubled mind.
Your blazing anger has swept over me;*
 your terrors have destroyed me;
They surround me all day long like a flood;*
 they encompass me on every side.
My friend and my neighbour you have put away from me,*
 and darkness is my only companion.

A Song of Pilgrimage (from Ecclesiasticus 51)

While I was still young,
I sought Wisdom openly in my prayer.

Before the temple I asked for her,
and I will search for her until the end.

>From the first blossom to the ripening grape,
my heart delighted in her.

My foot walked on the straight path,
from my youth I followed her steps.

I inclined my ear a little and received her,
I found for myself much instruction.

I made progress in Wisdom;
to the One who sent her,
I will give glory.

I directed my soul to Wisdom,
and in purity have I found her.

With her, I gained understanding from the first,
therefore will I never be forsaken.

My heart was stirred to seek her,
with my tongue will I sing God's praise.

Psalm 149

   Sing to the Lord a new song;*
 sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in his maker;*
 let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in the dance;*
 let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people*
 and adorns the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in triumph;*
 let them be joyful on their beds.
Let the praises of God be in their throat*
 and a two-edged sword in their hand;
To wreak vengeance on the nations*
 and punishment on the peoples;
To bind their kings in chains*
 and their nobles with links of iron;
To inflict on them the judgement decreed;*
 this is glory for all his faithful people.

READING [Job 28]:

'Surely there is a mine for silver,
   and a place for gold to be refined. 
Iron is taken out of the earth,
   and copper is smelted from ore. 
Miners put an end to darkness,
   and search out to the farthest bound
   the ore in gloom and deep darkness. 
They open shafts in a valley away from human
   they are forgotten by travellers,
   they sway suspended, remote from people. 
As for the earth, out of it comes bread;
   but underneath it is turned up as by fire. 
Its stones are the place of sapphires,
   and its dust contains gold. 

'That path no bird of prey knows,
   and the falcon's eye has not seen it. 
The proud wild animals have not trodden it;
   the lion has not passed over it. 

'They put their hand to the flinty rock,
   and overturn mountains by the roots. 
They cut out channels in the rocks,
   and their eyes see every precious thing. 
The sources of the rivers they probe;
   hidden things they bring to light. 

'But where shall wisdom be found?
   And where is the place of understanding? 
Mortals do not know the way to it,
   and it is not found in the land of the living. 
The deep says, "It is not in me",
   and the sea says, "It is not with me." 
It cannot be bought for gold,
   and silver cannot be weighed out as its price. 
It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
   in precious onyx or sapphire. 
Gold and glass cannot equal it,
   nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold. 
No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
   the price of wisdom is above pearls. 
The chrysolite of Ethiopia cannot compare with it,
   nor can it be valued in pure gold. 

'Where then does wisdom come from?
   And where is the place of understanding? 
It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
   and concealed from the birds of the air. 
Abaddon and Death say,
   "We have heard a rumour of it with our ears." 

'God understands the way to it,
   and he knows its place. 
For he looks to the ends of the earth,
   and sees everything under the heavens. 
When he gave to the wind its weight,
   and apportioned out the waters by measure; 
when he made a decree for the rain,
   and a way for the thunderbolt; 
then he saw it and declared it;
   he established it, and searched it out. 
And he said to humankind,
"Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
   and to depart from evil is understanding." '

For another Biblical reading,
Hebrews 11:17-31

Words: Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908), 1867
Tune: St. Denio 
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Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great Name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
thy justice like mountains high soaring above
thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest, to both great and small;
in all life thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish, like leaves on the tree,
then wither and perish; but nought changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
all laud we would render: O help us to see
'tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.

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

Eternal God,
you have declared in Christ
the completion of all your purpose of love.

We pray for those in need:
the tempted and despairing....
the sick and handicapped....
the aged...
and the dying....
the ministries of care and healing....
those who mourn....

Eternal God, we give thanks
for the triumphs of the gospel that herald your salvation
the signs of renewal that declare
the coming of your kingdom,
the human lives that reveal your work of grace....

for all those who have died in faith....

for the unceasing praise of the company of heaven,
the promise to those who mourn
that all tears shall be wiped away,
the pledge of death destroyed and victory won....

for our foretaste of eternal life
through baptism and eucharist,
our hope in the Spirit,
and the communion of saints....

May we live by faith, walk in hope and be renewed in love,
until the world reflects your glory
and you are all in all.
Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.

O Lord, 
when we are plunged into the darkness of despair,
make known to us the wonders of your grace,
for you alone are God
and from you comes all our help and strength.
We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lord God almighty, 
who so kindled the faith of Oswald with your Spirit 
that he set up the sign of the cross in his kingdom
and turned his people to the light of Christ: 
grant that we, being fired by the same Spirit,
may always bear our cross before the world
and be found faithful servants of the gospel; 
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

Quench our thirst with your gift of belief,
that we may no longer work for food that perishes,
but believe in the One whom you have sent. Amen.

The psalms 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 opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing prayer use sentences from 
prayers in _Opening Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language_.
Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

The intercessions are (c) 2000, The Church of Ireland Central Communications

The first collect is from _Daily Prayer_, copyright (c) The
Scottish Episcopal Church, 1998. Used with permission. 

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.

Beginning in the year 449, the pagan Germanic peoples known as the Angles,
the Saxons, and the Jutes invaded Britain and drove the native Britons, a
Christian Celtic people, north and west into Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and
Cornwall. They established seven principal kingdoms (the Heptarchy) in
England: The Saxon kingdoms of Essex, Wessex and Sussex (East Saxons,
West Saxons, and South Saxons), the Angle kingdoms of East Anglia, Mercia,
and Northumbria, and the Jute kingdom of Kent (in southeast England, the
London area). To this day, there are seven principal dialects of English spoken
in England, and the seven areas in which they are spoken are substantially the
same as the areas of the seven ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
In 597, Augustine, a missionary from Rome, established a mission in Kent,
where he was favorably received, and became the first Archbishop of
Canterbury. However, his influence was initially confined to the southeast of
In Northumbria (the region north of the Humber River), in the north of
England, in 616, Edwin seized the throne (replacing his sister's husband,
Aethelfrith the Ravager), and Oswald, son of Aethelfrith, fled into Scotland, to
the monastic settlement founded by Columba (see 9 June) in the late 500's on
the island of Iona (off the west coast of southern Scotland). Here Oswald
encountered the Christian faith and was converted and baptised. Edwin married
Ethelburgha, a princess of Kent, who brought with her the missionary Paulinus,
who became first Archbishop of York. Edwin and many of his court accepted
baptism in 627. In 632, King Cadwallon of Wales and the pagan king Penda of
Mercia invaded Northumbria and killed Edwin in battle. The queen and the
archbishop fled south, and Christianity was temporarily suppressed in the
The following year, Oswald returned from exile to claim the throne. He met
Cadwallon (or Cadwalla) in battle near Hexham. The night before the battle,
vastly outnumbered, with a small army of whom not more than a dozen were
Christians, he set up a wooden cross, and asked his soldiers to join him in
prayer. They did so, and promised to be baptised if they won the battle. The
battle was accordingly joined, and Oswald won a victory "as complete as it was
unlikely," defeating and slaying Cadwallon (the victor, as the Welsh bards tell
us, of forty battles and sixty single combats). The battle site was thereafter
known as Heavensfield. Northumbria, now united, became the most powerful
of the Seven Kingdoms, and Oswald was recognized as paramount king of the
His concern was for the conversion of his people to Christianity, and he sent
messengers to Iona, where he had himself received the Gospel, asking for a
Christian preacher. The first man sent (a monk named Coorman) was tactless
and a failure, but his replacement, Aidan (see 31 August), was an outstanding
success. Since he did not at first speak the Anglo-Saxon language, Oswald,
who was fully bilingual, stood beside him as he preached and interpreted the
sermon. Aidan was soon joined by other missionaries, and the Church
flourished in Northumbria. Oswald went to Wessex (the second most powerful
of the Seven Kingdoms, and later to be the most powerful, and the nucleus of a
united England) in order to seek a bride. Wessex was at that time largely
pagan, but his bride, Kineburga, agreed to become a Christian, and so did her
father, the King of Wessex. Thus a door was opened for the Gospel in
southwestern England.
However, Penda, the pagan king of Mercia, yet lived, and in 640 war between
Mercia and Northumbria was renewed, with the former followers of Cadwallon
allied once more with Mercia. In 642 Penda killed Oswald in a great battle near
Maserfeld (Salop), on the border between their kingdoms. As he fell dying,
Oswald prayed aloud for the souls of his bodyguards, who died with him, and
for the salvation of the people of Northumbria, and for his pagan enemies.
Penda ordered the corpse of Oswald to be dismembered and its parts set up on
stakes as a sacrifice to Odin. The head was reclaimed by Christians and sent to
Lindisfarne, and is now thought to rest in a tomb in Durham Cathedral (but it
should be noted that because of invasions and tumults it has been moved
several times, making its present location uncertain). [James Kiefer]

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