OREMUS: 3 June 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Mon Jun 2 17:00:01 GMT 2008

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OREMUS for Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The Martyrs of Uganda, 1886 and 1978

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

Blessed are you, O Lord,
your love reaches to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like teh strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep;
you save your entire creation, O Lord,
in your Son, 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 50

The Lord, the God of gods, has spoken;*
 he has called the earth
   from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty,*
 God reveals himself in glory.
Our God will come and will not keep silence;*
 before him there is a consuming flame,
   and round about him a raging storm.
He calls the heavens and the earth from above*
 to witness the judgement of his people.
'Gather before me my loyal followers,*
 those who have made a covenant with me
   and sealed it with sacrifice.'
Let the heavens declare the rightness of his cause;*
 for God himself is judge.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak:
   'O Israel, I will bear witness against you;*
 for I am God, your God.
'I do not accuse you because of your sacrifices;*
 your offerings are always before me.
'I will take no bull-calf from your stalls,*
 nor he-goats out of your pens;
'For the beasts of the forest are mine,*
 the herds in their thousands upon the hills.
'I know every bird in the sky,*
 and the creatures of the fields are in my sight.
'If I were hungry, I would not tell you,*
 for the whole world is mine and all that is in it.
'Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls,*
 or drink the blood of goats?
'Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving*
 and make good your vows to the Most High.
'Call upon me in the day of trouble;*
 I will deliver you and you shall honour me.'
But to the wicked God says:*
 'Why do you recite my statutes,
   and take my covenant upon your lips;
'Since you refuse discipline,*
 and toss my words behind your back?
'When you see a thief, you make him your friend,*
 and you cast in your lot with adulterers.
'You have loosed your lips for evil,*
 and harnessed your tongue to a lie.
'You are always speaking evil of your brother*
 and slandering your own mother's son.
'These things you have done and I kept still,*
 and you thought that I am like you.
'I have made my accusation;*
 I have put my case in order before your eyes.
'Consider this well, you who forget God,*
 lest I rend you and there be none to deliver you.
'Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving
   honours me;*
 but to those who keep in my way
   will I show the salvation of God.'

A Song of Deliverance (Isaiah 12.2-6)

'Behold, God is my salvation;  
I will trust and will not be afraid; 
'For the Lord God is my strength and my song,  
and has become my salvation.' 
With joy you will draw water  
from the wells of salvation. 
On that day you will say,  
'Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name; 
'Make known his deeds among the nations,  
proclaim that his name is exalted. 
'Sing God's praises, who has triumphed gloriously;  
let this be known in all the world. 
'Shout and sing for joy, you that dwell in Zion,  
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.'

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.

FIRST READING [Ezra 8:15a,21-23, 31-36]:

I gathered them by the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped for three days.
As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the descendants of
Levi. Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might deny ourselves
before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all
our possessions. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and cavalry
to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king that the hand
of our God is gracious to all who seek him, but his power and his wrath are against all
who forsake him. So we fasted and petitioned our God for this, and he listened to our
Then we left the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem;
the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and
from ambushes along the way. We came to Jerusalem and remained there for three
days. On the fourth day, within the house of our God, the silver, the gold, and the
vessels were weighed into the hands of the priest Meremoth son of Uriah, and with
him was Eleazar son of Phinehas, and with them were the Levites, Jozabad son of
Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui. The total was counted and weighed, and the weight
of everything was recorded.
At that time those who had come from captivity, the returned exiles, offered
burnt-offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams,
seventy-seven lambs, and as a sin-offering twelve male goats; all this was a
burnt-offering to the Lord. They also delivered the king's commissions to the king's
satraps and to the governors of the province Beyond the River; and they supported the
people and the house of God. 

Words: Edward Perronet (1725-1792), 1780
Tune: Miles Lane, Diadem, Coronation

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All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
to crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Crown him, ye morning stars of light,
who fixed this floating ball;
now hail the Strength of Israel's might,
and crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Crown him ye martyrs of your God,
who from his altar call:
extol the stem of Jesse's rod,
and crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Ye seed of Israel's chosen race,
ye ransomed of the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace.
and crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Hail him, ye heirs of David's line,
whom David Lord did call,
the God incarnate, Man divine,
and crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Sinners, whose love can ne'er forget
the wormwood and the gall,
go spread your trophies at his feet,
and crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Let every tribe and every tongue
that bound creation's call,
now shout in universal song
the crowned, the crowned, the crowned Lord of all!

SECOND READING [Acts 11:19-end]:

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over
Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word
to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who,
on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The
hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to
the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent
Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he
exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a
good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought
to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found
him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they associated with
the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples
were first called 'Christians'.
At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named
Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over
all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples
determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living
in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. 

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

O God our Salvation, you are near to all who call:
hear and answer our prayers.

You are a refuge for the oppressed;
be our stronghold in troubled times.

You stand at the right hand of the needy;
rescue all who are wrongfully condemned.

You raise the poor from the dust;
restore dignity to those who seek refuge.

You give food to the hungry;
uphold the cause of the destitute.

You watch over those who wander and sustain the widow;
provide protection in the face of danger.

You heal the brokenhearted;
bind up the wounds of all who suffer.

You call us to be your Church,
send us out to do your will in the world.

You are a mighty God who loves justice;
establish your equity for all people.

Praise be to you, O Lord;
you hear and answer our prayers.

O God, you desire mercy and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of you rather than burnt offerings:
rule and direct our hearts in the way of true religion
and save us in the day of your appearing;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God,
by the blood of Christian martyrs
you planted in the heart of Uganda
the seed of a strong and living Church:
may we who cherish their remembrance before you
be valiant in our witness
against the terrors of unjust rulers
and remain steadfast in the love
by which you bind us to yourself;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

May we feast at your abundant table, O Lord,
and drink from the river of your delights. 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 sentence are adapted from Psalm 36.

On 3 June 1886, thirty-two young men, pages of the court of King Mwanga of
Buganda, were burned to death at Namugongo for their refusal to renounce
Christianity. In the following months many other Christians throughout the
country died by spear or fire for their faith.
These martyrdoms totally changed the dynamic of Christian growth in Uganda.
Introduced by a handful of Anglican and Roman missionaries after 1877, the
Christian faith had been preached only to the immediate members of the court,
by order of King Mutesa. His successor, Mwanga, became increasingly angry
as he realized that the first converts put loyalty to Christ above the traditional
loyalty to the king. Martyrdoms began in 1885. Mwanga first forbade anyone
to go near a Christian mission on pain of death, but finding himself unable to
cool the ardor of the converts, resolved to wipe out Christianity.
The Namugongo martyrdoms produced a result entirely opposite to Mwanga's
intentions. The example of these martyrs, who walked to their deaths singing
hymns and praying for their enemies, so inspired many of the bystanders that
they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians. Within a few
years the original handful of converts had multiplied many times and spread far
beyond the court. The martyrs had left the indelible impression that Christianity
was truly African, not simply a white man's religion. Most of the missionary
work was carried out by Africans rather than by white missionaries, and
Christianity spread steadily. Uganda now has the largest percentage of
professed Christians of any nation in Africa.
Renewed persecution of Christians in the 1970's by the military dictatorship of
Idi Amin proved the vitality of the example of the Namugongo martyrs.
Among the thousands of new martyrs, both Anglican and Roman, was Janani
Luwum, Archbishop of the (Anglican) Church of Uganda.

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