OREMUS: 5 August 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Mon Aug 4 17:00:01 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for , 2008
Oswald, King of Northumbria, Martyr, 642

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

Blessed are you, O God,
beyond all seeing and knowing,
yet we meet you in the night of change and crisis,
and wrestle with you in the darkness of doubt.
You renew us with your your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your true and living bread,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
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 78

Hear my teaching, O my people;*
 incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;*
 I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.
That which we have heard and known,
   and what our forebears have told us,*
 we will not hide from their children.
We will recount to generations to come
   the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord,*
 and the wonderful works he has done.
He gave his decrees to Jacob
   and established a law for Israel,*
 which he commanded them to teach their children;
That the generations to come might know,
   and the children yet unborn;*
 that they in their turn might tell it to their children;
So that they might put their trust in God,*
 and not forget the deeds of God,
   but keep his commandments;
And not be like their forebears,
   a stubborn and rebellious generation,*
 a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
   and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The people of Ephraim, armed with the bow,*
 turned back in the day of battle;
They did not keep the covenant of God,*
 and refused to walk in his law;
They forgot what he had done,*
 and the wonders he had shown them.
He worked marvels in the sight of their forebears,*
 in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
He split open the sea and let them pass through;*
 he made the waters stand up like walls.
He led them with a cloud by day,*
 and all the night through with a glow of fire.
He split the hard rocks in the wilderness*
 and gave them drink as from the great deep.
He brought streams out of the cliff,*
 and the waters gushed out like rivers.
But they went on sinning against him,*
 rebelling in the desert against the Most High.
They tested God in their hearts,*
 demanding food for their craving.
They railed against God and said,*
 'Can God set a table in the wilderness?
'True, he struck the rock, the waters gushed out,
   and the gullies overflowed;*
 but is he able to give bread
   or to provide meat for his people?'
When the Lord heard this, he was full of wrath;*
 a fire was kindled against Jacob,
   and his anger mounted against Israel;
For they had no faith in God,*
 nor did they put their trust in his saving power.
So he commanded the clouds above*
 and opened the doors of heaven.
He rained down manna upon them to eat*
 and gave them grain from heaven.
So mortals ate the bread of angels;*
 he provided for them food enough.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens*
 and led out the south wind by his might.
He rained down flesh upon them like dust*
 and winged birds like the sand of the sea.
He let it fall in the midst of their camp*
 and round about their dwellings.
So they ate and were well filled,*
 for he gave them what they craved.
But they did not stop their craving,*
 though the food was still in their mouths.
So God's anger mounted against them;*
 he slew their strongest men
   and laid low the youth of Israel.
In spite of all this, they went on sinning*
 and had no faith in his wonderful works.
So he brought their days to an end like a breath*
 and their years in sudden terror.
Whenever he slew them, they would seek him,*
 and repent and diligently search for God.
They would remember that God was their rock,*
 and the Most High God their redeemer.
But they flattered him with their mouths*
 and lied to him with their tongues.
Their heart was not steadfast towards him,*
 and they were not faithful to his covenant.
But he was so merciful that he forgave their sins
   and did not destroy them;*
 many times he held back his anger
   and did not permit his wrath to be roused.
For he remembered that they were but flesh,*
 a breath that goes forth and does not return.
How often the people disobeyed God in the wilderness*
 and offended him in the desert!
Again and again they tempted God*
 and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember his power*
 in the day when he ransomed them from the enemy;
How he wrought his signs in Egypt*
 and his omens in the field of Zoan.
He turned their rivers into blood,*
 so that they could not drink of their streams.
He sent swarms of flies among them, which ate them up,*
 and frogs, which destroyed them.
He gave their crops to the caterpillar,*
 the fruit of their toil to the locust.
He killed their vines with hail*
 and their sycamores with frost.
He delivered their cattle to hailstones*
 and their livestock to hot thunderbolts.
He poured out upon them his blazing anger:*
 fury, indignation and distress,
   a troop of destroying angels.
He gave full rein to his anger;
   he did not spare their souls from death;*
 but delivered their lives to the plague.
He struck down all the first-born of Egypt,*
 the flower of manhood in the dwellings of Ham.
He led out his people like sheep*
 and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
He led them to safety and they were not afraid;*
 but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
He brought them to his holy land,*
 the mountain his right hand had won.
He drove out the Canaanites before them
   and apportioned an inheritance to them by lot;*
 he made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.
But they tested the Most High God and defied him,*
 and did not keep his commandments.
They turned away and were disloyal like their forebears;*
 they were undependable like a warped bow.
They grieved him with their hill-altars*
 and provoked his displeasure with their idols.
When God heard this, he was angry*
 and utterly rejected Israel.
He forsook the shrine at Shiloh,*
 the tabernacle where he had lived among his people.
He delivered the ark into captivity,*
 his glory into the adversary's hand.
He gave his people to the sword*
 and was angered against his inheritance.
The fire consumed their young men;*
 there were no wedding songs for their maidens.
Their priests fell by the sword,*
 and their widows made no lamentation.
Then the Lord woke as though from sleep,*
 like a warrior refreshed with wine.
He struck his enemies from behind*
 and put them to perpetual shame.
He rejected the tent of Joseph*
 and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
He chose instead the tribe of Judah*
 and Mount Zion, which he loved.
He built his sanctuary like the heights of heaven,*
 like the earth which he founded for ever.
He chose David his servant,*
 and took him away from the sheepfolds.
He brought him from following the ewes,*
 to be a shepherd over Jacob his people
   and over Israel his inheritance.
So he shepherded them with a faithful and true heart*
 and guided them with the skilfulness of his hands.

A Song of the Holy City (Revelation 21.1-5a)

I saw a new heaven and a new earth,  
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away 
and the sea was no more. 
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, 
coming down out of heaven from God,  
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 
And I heard a great voice from the throne saying,  
'Behold, the dwelling of God is among mortals. 
'He will dwell with them and they shall be his peoples,  
and God himself will be with them. 
'He will wipe every tear from their eyes,  
and death shall be no more. 
'Neither shall there be mourning, 
nor crying, nor pain any more,  
for the former things have passed away.' 
And the One who sat upon the throne said,  
'Behold, I make all things new.'

Psalm 147:1-12

   How good it is to sing praises to our God!*
 how pleasant it is to honour him with praise!
The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem;*
 he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted*
 and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars*
 and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;*
 there is no limit to his wisdom.
The Lord lifts up the lowly,*
 but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;*
 make music to our God upon the harp.
He covers the heavens with clouds*
 and prepares rain for the earth;
He makes grass to grow upon the mountains*
 and green plants to serve us all.
He provides food for flocks and herds*
 and for the young ravens when they cry.
He is not impressed by the might of a horse,*
 he has no pleasure in human strength;
But the Lord has pleasure in those who fear him,*
 in those who await his gracious favour.


A shatterer has come up against you.
   Guard the ramparts;
   watch the road;
gird your loins;
   collect all your strength.
(For the Lord is restoring the majesty of Jacob,
   as well as the majesty of Israel,
though ravagers have ravaged them
   and ruined their branches.)

The shields of his warriors are red;
   his soldiers are clothed in crimson.
The metal on the chariots flashes
   on the day when he musters them;
   the chargers prance.
The chariots race madly through the streets,
   they rush to and fro through the squares;
their appearance is like torches,
   they dart like lightning.
He calls his officers;
   they stumble as they come forward;
they hasten to the wall,
   and the mantelet is set up.
The river gates are opened,
   the palace trembles.
It is decreed that the city be exiled,
   its slave women led away,
moaning like doves
   and beating their breasts.
Nineveh is like a pool
   whose waters run away.
'Halt! Halt!' 
   but no one turns back.
'Plunder the silver,
   plunder the gold!
There is no end of treasure!
   An abundance of every precious thing!'

Devastation, desolation, and destruction!
   Hearts faint and knees tremble,
all loins quake,
   all faces grow pale!
What became of the lions' den,
   the cave of the young lions,
where the lion goes,
   and the lion's cubs, with no one to disturb them?
The lion has torn enough for his whelps
   and strangled prey for his lionesses;
he has filled his caves with prey
   and his dens with torn flesh.

 See, I am against you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will burn your chariots in smoke,
and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth,
and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more. 

Words: Words: William Henry Burleigh (1812-1871)

Music: Stanstead 

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Still will we trust, though earth seem dark and dreary,
and the heart faint beneath his chastening rod;
though rough and steep our pathway, worn and weary,
still will we trust in God!

Our eyes see dimly till by faith anointed,
and our blind choosing brings us grief and pain;
through him alone who hath our way appointed,
we find our peace again.

Choose for us, God! Nor let our weak preferring
cheat our poor souls of good thou has designed;
choose for us, God! Thy wisdom is unerring,
and we are fools and blind.

So from our sky the night shall furl her shadows,
and day pour gladness through his golden gates,
our rough path lead to flower-enameled meadows,
where joy our coming waits.

Let us press on, in patient self denial,
accept the hardship, shrink not from the loss;
our portion lies beyond the hour of trial,
our crown beyond the cross.

SECOND READING [Romans 8:28-end]:

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are
called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to
be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a
large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called
he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He
who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him
also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God's elect? It is God
who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised,
who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us
from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or
nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
'For your sake we are being killed all day long;
   we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.'
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I
am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor
things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

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

Baptizing God,
you have plunged us into the waters as death to sin
and have raised us to be alive to you in joy and service.

For all whose eager and resolute living in you
makes them saints to us:
We thank you, Lord.

For the community made holy in Christ,
the living and the dead, the near and the far away:
We thank you, Lord.

For the witness of your Church,
We thank you, Lord.

For an awareness of our kinship
to holy and just men and women:
We thank you, Lord.

For reminding us that perfection in you is a journey
of consistent love to you and to others:
We thank you, Lord.

For sustaining us in the faithful use of means of grace,
that we may resolve to live in your love and peace:
We thank you, Lord.

God our deliverer,
you led our forebears through the wilderness
and established them as your people:
renew your covenant with us
that we may rejoice in the signs of your deliverance
and be brought into the kingdom of your beloved Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord. 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

Refresh us with your grace,
that we may not be weary in well-doing,
for the sake of him who has called us
to hunger and thirst to see right prevail,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The psalms and collect 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 uses phrases from a prayer in _Revised Common Lectionary
Prayers_, copyright (c) 2002 Consultation on Common Texts and from
_Book of Common Worship_, (c) 1993 Westminster / John Knox Press.
The closing prayer uses phrases from _Book of Common Worship_, (c)
1993 Westminster / John Knox Press. 

The intercession is reprinted from _THE DAILY OFFICE: A Book of Hours of
Daily Prayer after the Use of the Order of Saint Luke_, (c) 1997 by The Order
of Saint Luke. Used by 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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