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Continuing the transcript of

Fifty Years of Sheffield Church Life
1866-1916

by
The Rev. W. Odom

[ photo ]
Hon. Canon of Sheffield


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Chapter X

PUBLIC WORSHIP – ITS METHODS

Author's note. – This paper was read at the Islington Clerical Meeting, London, January 13th, 1903. Dr. Barlow, Dean of Peterborough, presided, and about a thousand clergymen were present. The general subject was, "THE OBLIGATION OF SPIRITUAL RELIGION IN REGARD TO GOD'S WORD, PUBLIC WORSHIP, PREACHING, PRIVATE LIFE." The speakers were:

Introductory:

 

The Dean of Peterborough

I. God's Word:

(a) Its Authority:
(b) Its Application:

The Rev. Dr. Wace
Rev. Prebendary Webb-Peploe

II. Public Worship:

(a) Its Claims:
(b) Its Methods:

Rev. A. E. Barnes-Lawrence
Rev. W. Odom

III. Preaching:

(a) Its Subject:
(b) Its Object:

Rev. W. E. Burroughs
Rev. H. L. C. de Candole

IV. Private Life:

(a) Individual:
(b) Family:

Rev. C. J. Proctor
Rev. W. J. Thompson



I take it that we are here as learners in the school of Christ, and it is as a learner that I venture to address my brethren in the ministry on so wide and difficult a subject as that assigned to me – "Methods of Public Worship" – a subject wide inasmuch as it touches the very beginnings of the Church of Christ, and difficult because of the many and diverse opinions held respecting it.

The subject could not be more fittingly introduced than in the words of Archbishop Tillotson:

"O Lord God of Truth, I humbly beseech Thee to enlighten my mind by Thy Holy Spirit; and if in anything which concerns the true worship and service of Thee, my God, I am in any error or mistake, I earnestly beg of Thee to convince me of it, and to lead me into the way of truth, and to confirm and establish me in it daily more and more."

Our theme should be approached with due consideration for the standpoint we take and the days in which we live. I shall not be expected to touch upon the varying methods of worship which obtain amongst our Nonconformist brethren, many of which must have our respect and goodwill.

We meet at this historic gathering, not as party men, but, I trust, as "sober, peaceable, and truly conscientious sons of the Church of England", deeply attached to her principles as propounded at the Reformation and embodied in the Book of Common Prayer – a Church which, in the historic words so fully and ably emphasized at this Meeting three years ago, is "Catholic, Apostolic, Reformed, and Protestant". We are here as the possessors and lovers of a Liturgy which bears the stamp of Apostolic truth, which is an unimpeachable witness to the discreet wisdom and Scriptural principles of our Reformers, and which for hundreds of years has safely guided our forefathers along the pathway of prayer and praise. We are here to re-state and vindicate truths and principles dating from the Apostolic age which, amid present change and unrest, specially need to be re-stated and emphasized. We are here to affirm that it is not sufficient to worship God only, but that also it is of the utmost importance to worship Him rightly.

Public worship is a recognized duty on which all Christians are agreed, but when we come to consider the methods by which this duty may be best carried out we find great divergence of opinion and practice. The essential law of Christian worship is clearly set forth by our Lord (St. John iv, 23, 24), "God is a spirit" (absolutely free from all limitations of space and time), "and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." As Bishop Westcott says: "Worship is necessarily limited by the idea of the being worshipped. A true idea of God is essential to a right service of Him. The spirit of man responds to the spirit of God. There is a real correspondence between the true worshipper and God. The true worshipper answers to the true God." (See St. John xvii, 3.)

The nineteenth century saw vast, unlooked-for changes in the social, intellectual, and religious life of the people; and whilst Gospel truth, like its Divine Author, is in its very nature unchangeable, the methods of presenting it must be varied and adapted to special needs and changed circumstances. We are no advocates for narrowness.  Strict uniformity is not unity. The toleration and comprehensiveness of the Church of England have ever been its glory, and we have no desire to see them narrowed; but there are limitations to be loyally maintained and defended – limitations of doctrine and limitations of ritual. Amid the din of controversy, the sloth of indifference, and the increasing desecration of the Lord's Day, our Church is imperilled on the one hand by Romanizing teaching and ritual, and on the other is distressed by heresies put forth by teachers within her pale.

We all have our ideals. It has been said with truth that "ideals are the soul of life." That life is poor indeed, be it social, commercial, artistic, or religious, which is without an ideal. Holy Scripture gives us graphic and glorious pictures of the ideal Church – the Bride of Christ. We have our ideals respecting the Church on earth; the ideal as to what our National Church should be, a witness for God and His truth; an ideal as to what her clergy should be – not priests after the order of Aaron, but pastors of the flock after the example of the Good Shepherd; an ideal as to what her laymen should be, followers of Him Who pleased not Himself; an ideal as to what her public services should be, bright, simple, reverent, Scriptural, "in the beauty of holiness". The actual falls far short of the ideal; but still the ideal, the conception of the perfect, is before us, and it is well it should be, so long as it rests upon the sure foundation of Scriptural truth.

There is the danger of forgetting that our Church is a National Church. In many parishes methods of worship are adopted which do not accord with our national character, and attempts are made to conform the services to the mediæval type. We are told that as our churches are built in the mediæval manner, it is inconsistent to object to mediæval ceremonial therein. And so there is a supply of Service-books and Manuals on Ceremonial on mediæval lines for the use of clergy, unauthorized, condemned by the Bishops as "strongly superstitious and anti-Anglican", and characterized by the Guardian as "not merely superstitious, but irreverent also."

Now we hold that this revival of mediaevalism is as un-English as it is un-Scriptural. As Prebendary Webb-Peploe said at a recent Church Congress, "Whatever is foreign or repugnant to our national instincts should, as far as possible, be avoided or put away." It will be remembered that the late Dean Burgon in a notable sermon at St. Mary's, Oxford, denounced the extreme teachings and practices of Ritualism as "unspiritual, unwholesome, mawkish, and wholly un-English."

No further attempt need be made to indicate the grievous departures from the letter and spirit of the Prayer Book made by clergy who, at their ordination, promised to use, "in public prayer and administration of the Sacraments, the form in the said book prescribed, and none other, except so far as shall be ordered by lawful authority." There are not a few signs of a strong tendency to ignore a foundation truth of Apostolic teaching – "we walk by faith, not by sight."

[ Footnote – OF CEREMONIES. – "Although the keeping or omitting of a Ceremony, in itself considered, is but a small thing; yet the wilful and contemptuous transgression and breaking of a common order and discipline is no small offence before God. Let all things be done among you, saith Saint Paul, in a seemly and due order." – Preface to Prayer Book. ]

The Church Quarterly Review (which so ably represents the high church party) recently said: "The wish is to draw people to church, by what means or extravagances does not very much matter; nor what they do when they are got to church. The worship of Almighty God passes into the background." The life of the late Archbishop Benson throws some sidelights on unsatisfactory methods of public worship. An entry in his diary says: "Strange to find in retired country places the same changes going on in ritual – chanted psalms, surpliced choirs, eastward position, coloured stoles everywhere. The gain in reverence does not keep pace with all this. . . .  There is entering something that is mechanical, not corporate, while the individual is dying out as an element of worship. The old evangelical service was more solemn, more reverent." In pleading for simplicity, Archbishop Maclagan deplores certain things in the public services of the Church, "distracting and disturbing to many pious souls," and uses these weighty words: "We cannot forbear to express our conviction that the re-adoption of vestments or of practices not only long disused, but also associated in the minds of the multitude with the worship of the Roman Church, will be a hindrance rather than a help, either in bringing back to the Church those who have forsaken her services, or in quickening and sustaining their true spiritual life."

Need it be said that public worship is essential to the maintenance of Church life and Christian fellowship? If it be in spirit and in truth there will be a union of the worshippers with each other and their Lord. Place and time will stand in the background as we realize the truth of Cowper's words:

"Jesus, where'er Thy people meet,
There they behold Thy mercy-seat;
Where'er they seek Thee Thou art found,
And every place is hallow'd ground."

Doctrine and worship cannot be separated. "As the Lord strengthens His Church by means of saving doctrine, He also maintains her by true worship" (Martensen).

Our Lord said little about public worship; His teaching had more special reference to private prayer. The New Testament gives no direction as to stated places, days, and hours. It is well for us to emphasize the fact that the Synagogue service formed the type of early Christian worship, and that in the Synagogue there was no altar, no sacrifice, and no priest as such. The Church of Christ carried on and spiritualized the work of the Jewish Synagogue. It also took up and spiritualized the conceptions of prayer and praise that clustered round the Jewish Temple, which, with its priesthood and sacrifices, were shadows of good things to come – shadows which found their reality in the perfect priesthood and one offering of Christ.

A first note of the methods of Christian worship is found in Acts ii, 41, 42, where we read that those baptized by the Apostles "continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." We see here the essential notes of faith, unity, and worship in the new-born Church. We gather from the Apostolic writings that the prominent elements in public worship were: (1) Prayer, (2) praise, (3) reading of the Scriptures, (4) the inspired utterances of teachers, (5) the preaching of Christ crucified, risen, and ascended, (6) collections for the poor, (7) the Lord's Supper, immediately preceded by the Agape or Love feast, by which the Christian brotherhood declared the fact that they were all one in Christ Jesus.

Justin Martyr gives an interesting picture of Christian worship in the second century:

"On the day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the Prophets are read as long as time permits. Then, when the reader has ceased, the president, verbally instructs and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgiving according to his ability, and the people assent, saying 'Amen'."

It is quite clear that there was Sunday public worship, followed by the Holy Communion.

Later, when Christianity was recognized by the Emperor Constantine, great changes took place. Canon Robertson, in his History of the Christian Church, says:

"The more general adoption of Christianity was followed by an increase of splendour in all that concerns the worship of God. Churches were built and adorned with greater cost; the officiating clergy were attired in gorgeous vestures; the music became more elaborate; and many new ceremonies were introduced."

The historian goes on to show that immense sums were lavished on the marble walls, gilded ceilings, and jewelled altars of churches. The burning of lamps and candles by day, the use of incense, and the practice of elaborate ceremonial prevailed. Crowds were drawn by the ritual of the Church; but when the more attractive parts of the service was over the mass departed, without remaining for the teaching and administration of Holy Communion. As may be supposed, there was a decay of spiritual life, and each century saw Christian worship corrupted by worldly influences. Christ, crucified and risen, was put into the background. The sacrificing priest, who professed to offer Christ for the living and the dead, had the pre-eminence; dangerous deceits, dumb ceremonies, and other fond things vainly invented, repugnant to Holy Scripture, were introduced.

It is a noteworthy fact, pointed out by several writers, that the Church's worship changed with its faith, and that each new dogma affected the forms and nature of the worship. The difference between the worship of the primitive Church and that of the medieval Church was marked; for example, transubstantiation demanded magnificent pomp and adoration, and from it sprang the imposition of fasting before Communion; the sacrifice of the Mass, in which the officiating priest was the centre, left the congregation as mere gazers upon a sacrificial sin-offering on their behalf; the act of the elevation of the host and chalice after consecration brought in lights, censings, bell-ringings, genuflections, and other additions to the ceremonial; moreover, the priests must wear sacrificial garments. All this was a radical change from primitive practice. Later on, in the twelfth century, the sacraments were classed as seven. Confession and absolution were prominent, and the layman became a slave at the foot of the priest. The doctrine of purgatory, combined with indulgences and masses for the dead, sprang up in the fourteenth century. Prayers to the Virgin Mary and saints became popular, and Christ was put in the background. "Christ became an object of fear, Mary of love." Then followed the veneration of relics and the worship of images, indicating the feeble faith of a Church which sought to walk by sight. The many changes during the middle ages in faith and worship, making them something quite different from those of the primitive Church, are fully detailed in Canon Meyrick's Scriptural and Catholic Truth and Worship.

But the Reformation changed all this, and by its Articles and devotions condemned and swept away the un-Scriptural accretions which had gathered around Apostolic faith and practice, giving us the Prayer-book, with its Scriptural and Catholic teaching, as we have it to-day. It will be seen from the preface that the essential principle which the Reformers emphasized in our Prayer Book is purity of doctrine and simplicity of worship. In that part relating to ceremonies (probably written by Cranmer) it is declared that "this over-excessive multitude of Ceremonies was so great, many of them so dark, that they did more confound and darken than declare and set forth Christ's benefits unto us"; after which the freedom and spirituality of the Gospel are contrasted with the ceremonial character of the Mosaic law in these weighty words:

"Christ's Gospel is not a Ceremonial Law (as much of Moses' law was), but it is a religion to serve God, not in bondage of the figure or shadow, but in the freedom of the Spirit; being content only with those Ceremonies which do serve to a decent order and godly discipline, and such as be apt to stir up the dull mind of man to the remembrance of his duty to God, by some notable and special signification, whereby he might be edified."

Ceremonies which "much blinded the people and obscured the glory of God" were cut away and rejected.

Amid the varied round of public worship – in prayer, in praise, in preaching, and in ritual alike – dignity, simplicity, reverence, and devotion are essential requirements. We are no advocates for bare and cold services, nor yet for what has been called a "Puritan Ritual", although more of the reality and earnestness of devotion which characterized the Puritans would be very welcome in our churches. Damp, uncomfortable, whitewashed, and ill-kept churches, with their high, exclusive pews, and often carelessly-rendered services, are happily things of the past. To-day we rejoice to be able to point to a large number of churches throughout the length and breadth of the land which prove that faithful evangelical teaching from the pulpit can go hand-in-hand with bright, hearty, and attractive services.

It must be regarded as a foundation principle that the worship of Almighty God be in perfect accord with the doctrines and formularies of our Church, and be a clear presentment of the same. No ritual or ornament should be used or permitted as an outward expression of doctrine which is contrary to God's Word and repugnant to the teaching and spirit of our Prayer Book. Creed and worship should harmonize just as much as creed and conduct, and our prayer Book provides a clear directory for both. As Dr. Barlow once reminded this meeting, "Purity of doctrine and simplicity of form act and re-act each upon the other." We shall be in warm accord with a recent leading article in the Times which says: "To a reasonable use of external adornments in worship no objection would be felt by anyone, if they could be separated from the idea that they are parts of an organized plan for reviving long-discarded mediæval practices, and for bringing about an approximation to Roman methods." To this may be added words of Bishop Handley Moule, who writes:

"Ceremonial becomes a dangerous hindrance to spiritual worship the moment it steps into the first place, whilst the truth it embodies drops into the second. And this happens the moment it makes itself more prominent than its subject."

Limits of time permit only a bare reference to the methods of worship at Holy Communion. It is indeed a sad reflection that the Lord's Table should be the centre, not only of the most ornate ceremonial and anti-Catholic teaching, but also of bitter controversy. We should emphasize in every possible way the truth that the grandeur of the Lord's Supper is the simplicity of its ritual according to the Book of Common Prayer, which is in strict accord with Holy Scripture. Elevations and prostrations, lighted candles and incense, priestly vestments and sacrificial positions, are altogether alien to the spirit of the service. The bread and wine are not to be gazed upon as a spectacle, nor elevated as a god, but are to be taken and received by the faithful, to whom Christ is present in a very real sense, to strengthen and bless. Dean Vaughan put the truth in simple words, which cannot be too often repeated:

"Regard the outward signs (bread and wine) reverently, but not superstitiously; use them as means, not as ends; symbols, not idols. Feed on Him, not on them; in thine heart, not with thy mouth; by faith, not by sight; with thanksgiving."

This is the teaching of our Church. The only foundation for methods which unhappily obtain in many quarters is in the weakness of human nature. It is our duty as ministers of a National Church to give our people every opportunity for drawing near to the Lord's Table. In large parishes there should be weekly Communion at least. The hour – be it morning, noon, or evening – matters little, so long as we eat the bread and drink the wine "in remembrance that Christ died for us, and feed on Him in the hearth, by faith with thanksgiving."

In passing, may I venture to say that we cannot insist too strongly upon the Offertory being regarded as an essential part of our worship? The giving of a contribution at the service, be it the penny of the poor or the sovereign of the rich, should be regarded as an act of worship. "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His Name; bring an offering, and come into His courts." (Psalm xcvi, 8). Are not there amongst us methods of raising money which cannot have the approval of Him Who stands by the Treasury? Too often the motive power is selfish pleasure or an emotional speech. Whenever the offering is given it should be the outcome of love, a thank-offering to God for Christ's sake.

As we have seen, little is found in the New Testament beyond outlines and principles of Divine worship. The methods which we as Churchmen adopt, so fully indicated in the Prayer Book, we believe to be in strict accord with Holy Scripture. May not it be justly said that some of us have failed in our duty as pastors of the flock in not teaching our people more respecting the structure and methods of the Book of Common Prayer? It would be well for us not only to preach more on the subject, but also to recommend, from pulpit and by parish magazine, such admirable handbooks as those of Bishop Moule on Our Prayer Book and At the Holy Communion; also Dr. Drury's excellent work How we got our Prayer Book. To those desirous of pursuing the subject further may be commended Bishop Dowden's Workmanship of the Prayer Book, Mr. Hole's Manual of the Book of Common Prayer, and Procter's History – the old edition. Canon Meyrick's Doctrine of the Church of England on the Holy Communion is invaluable.

It is important also that our people should be reminded that the Prayer Book is constructed on the principle that those who take part in its services are what they profess to be – members of Christ. The glory of the Prayer Book is its abundant use of Scripture. In all things Christ has the pre-eminence. Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide are the three great "luminous points" in our Church's calendar – the glorious Christian counterparts – rather realities – to which the three great feasts of Israel pointed. These, in great measure, determined the order of our worship. What peculiar wisdom it evidenced in the arrangement of our Prayer-book for the Church's year, beginning with Advent, which points us back to the first coming of Christ in humiliation, and bids us prepare for his second coming in glory! The proportion of the Christian faith is wonderfully maintained. God the Father, in His power and glory; God the Son, in His self-sacrificing love; God the Holy Ghost, in His teaching and sanctifying offices, are each and all recognized and honoured. Man's deep needs and God's gracious provision are fully set forth. The Divine origin and priceless value of Holy Scripture; the nature, privileges, and blessings of public worship; the necessity of prayer; the nature and purpose of the divinely-ordained ministry and Sacraments, are all clearly indicated in Scriptural and simple language.

We are reminded by the Exhortation in our daily services of the leading elements of public worship – confession, thanksgiving, praise, the hearing of God's Word, and prayer for blessings "as well for the body as the soul." In every act it is of first importance that we should realize the presence, greatness, and glory of the God we worship. Too often our worship lacks the stamp of reality. There is the form without the power, the altar without the sacrifice, the sound of the lip without the response of the heart. The scaffolding of the temple may be made so elaborate as to hide the throne and Him that sitteth thereon. The true worshipper, remembering the Master's promise, "Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them", will exclaim, "I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the House of the Lord."

Both in prayer and praise we draw near to our Father God, but it is in praise that the highest point of worship is reached. Praise is the most perfect expression of all that is purest and noblest in our religious nature. "Prayer asks God to come down to us; praise essays to go up to God. The birthplace and home of prayer is on earth; the birthplace and home of praise is in heaven." And so we go to the Sanctuary of God "to set forth His most worthy praise." Throughout our services the element of praise is very prominent. Our Prayer Book is the Book of Common Prayer, and with equal truth it may be called a Book of Common Praise.

Welcome indeed is the assistance of the choir in leading the services of the sanctuary; but it must ever be remembered that God cannot be worshipped by deputy. We have read of past days when the service was a duet between parson and clerk. Is not there a danger of the service becoming a duet between minister and choir? Examples are not wanting of the tyranny of organist and choir (happily the exception); and if we may judge by the elaborate and uncongregational music to which chants, canticles, and responses are often set, it would appear that the service is for the glory of the choir rather than for the praise and glory of God. I hope to be forgiven for saying that there are churches with an evangelical ministry in which the greater part of the congregation is deprived of its rightful privilege of common praise, with the exception of joining in the hymns. It is the duty and privilege of all worshippers, young and old alike, to join in common prayer and common praise to the best of their ability. "Let the people praise Thee, O God; yea, let all the people praise Thee."

Archbishop Maclagan, in addressing his clergy, deplored and condemned a practice which he said was extending, namely, that in the recitation of the Creed and the Lord's Prayer the opening words are said by the minister only, neither the choir nor the congregation pronouncing the words "I believe" or "Our Father". Moreover, is not it contrary to the nature of the thing to sing to pretty music the solemn confession to God that "we have erred and strayed"? In these, as in other methods of worship, we may "follow too much the devices and desires of our own hearts".

Too great care cannot be exercised in the selection of the hymns we sing. Not a few, wedded to popular tunes, but doctrinally unsound, are to be found in our hymn-books. Next to the Bible, hymns have done more to influence men's religious views and mould theology than anything besides, as witness Luther's hymns of the Reformation and those of the Evangelical Revival. As centuries ago heresies were spread by means of hymns, so to-day, unhappily, false teaching is instilled by the same means. A special need is an authorized Church hymnal on the lines of the Prayer Book. This, we believe, would be a source of untold strength to our Church; but it belongs, we fear, to the distant future. It is, however, a sign of the times that a paper like the Saturday Review should urge "the adoption by the Church of England of an authorized hymnal which should be worthy to be bound up with the Book of Common Prayer, not a swollen and unwieldy hymnal to suit every taste, but one with which the Church can meet her enemies in the gate, and of which she need not be ashamed." The opinion of the late Dean Vaughan on Church music is worth repeating. He said,

"What we desire, what we seek, what we expect to realize, is such an improvement of Church music as shall make it not more showy, not more complicated, not more ornate, not more artistic – none of these things – just more congregational, more united, more hearty, more devotional; more like that primitive model of all public worship of which the Book of the Acts of the Apostles tells us that they who were present lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and that the result of it was, by His grace, that they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake the Word of God with boldness" (Liturgy and Worship, p.123).

Need it be said that a Church which does not vary its methods and forms of worship to meet the needs and circumstances of the times cannot do its work effectively? If there is to be healthy progress there must be adaptation. Considering how greatly the times have altered since our Prayer Book was arranged, and the way in which Sunday and other services have multiplied, we might with consistency plead for greater liberty in the use of the Prayer Book, so that our services might be shortened, varied, and simplified. There are times when our Sunday-morning services are apt to weary even devout worshippers, and make them desire short sermons. We do not ask that the Prayer Book be revised or supplanted, but only plead for greater freedom in its use. It will be seen from the preface that such "changes and alterations" in the rites and ceremonies of Divine worship as should from time to time seem expedient were contemplated by our Reformers. I think that, as in the Church of Ireland, the use of the Athanasian Creed might be optional; the Creed still retaining its place in our Prayer Book as a witness to the Catholic faith so earnestly contended for in past ages. As English Churchmen who use water and the sign of the Cross in baptism, and the symbols of bread and wine at Holy Communion, it would be inconsistent for us to advocate the rejection of all symbolism. The history of the Church of Rome teaches that it is the tendency of the sensuous to overpower and supersede the spiritual. It is needful to warn against this danger. At the same time we maintain that He Who gives all should be served with our noblest and best. As the Bishop of Exeter (Dr. Bickersteth) once said at this meeting,

"We can have beauty in building, and loveliness of music wherewith to do God honour and praise, without risk of indulging in a merely sensuous pageant, or reproducing some obsolete mediævalism."

There are two notable utterances of the Reformation relating to methods of worship which are in danger of being forgotten, but which might with advantage be recalled to-day, if not at Church Congresses, at least before our congregations.

One is the "Homily against Peril of Idolatry and Superfluous Decking of Churches", which says,

"Let us honour and worship for religion sake none but God; and Him let us worship and honour as He will Himself, and hath declared by His Word that He will be honoured and worshipped; not in nor by images or idols, which He hath most straitly forbidden, neither in kneeling, lighting of candles, burning of incense, offering up of gifts unto images and idols, to believe that we shall please Him."

The other is Latimer's famous sermon on "The Ploughers", preached at St. Paul's Cross 350 years ago, in which he said:

"Where the devil is resident, and hath his plough going, there away with books and up with candles, away with Bibles and up with beads, away with the light of the Gospel and up with the light of candles – yea, even at noonday ... up with all superstition and idolatry, censing, painting of images, candles, palms, ashes, holy water, and new service of men's inventing, as though man could invent a better way to honour God with than God Himself hath appointed."

A closing word. Our general subject is "The Obligation of Spiritual Religion". Spiritual men for spiritual work is an essential principle of Church life and worship. According to an old legend, on a certain midnight in the year the church bells in one of the districts of Normandy ring merrily for an hour. But whilst they swing through the darkness and peal through the silence, the listeners shut their eyes and tremble, because, they say, dead hands rise to touch the ropes, and dead ringers ring, and the merry music is the music of the dead. Is not there a solemn lesson here? Surely those around us will close their eyes and ears if men spiritually dead attempt to ring the bells of heaven in our churches – be it at the prayer-desk, in the pulpit, at the Lord's Table, or in the choir. If hearts are to be touched and changed, and lives and homes won for Christ, the worker himself must go forth with a cleansed heart, a consecrated will, and lips touched with fire of love; having ever before him the King's words: "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."

Above all, in spite of every temptation to the contrary, be it ours, as members of an Apostolic Church, ever earnestly to cleave to the four-fold Apostolic rubric: "Let all things be done decently and in order"; "Let all things be done unto edifying"; "Let all things be done with charity"; "Do all to the glory of God."


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Full Contents

I

Sheffield in the 'Sixties
The author's reminiscences of 'Old Sheffield' and its inhabitants.

II

The Church in Sheffield, 1866-1916
Brief history of the church in Sheffield and its development, timetable of subjects and tutors from an Educational Institute Class List of 1866, clergy names, benefactors, details of churches/parishes, etc — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.

III

Memories of St. Simon's, 1877-1888
Details of this parish in one of the most densely-populated areas of Sheffield, anecdotes, names, etc.

IV

Christ Church, Heeley, 1888-1916
History, descriptions and anecdotes of Heeley before it became developed, names of residents, and a comprehensive account of the author's incumbency, including details of the church extensions, building of the Sunday Schools, fundraising, collections and expenditure, a little about Nonconformists, names of curates/scripture readers/deaconesses/churchwardens etc, and the author's eventual retirement — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.

V

Heeley and the War
Names of congregation members fallen in the Great War, including one VC (Sgt-Maj J C Raynes, Royal Artillery, with citation given), together with extracts from letters written by servicemen giving accounts of conditions at the front (France, Belgium, Egypt), their experiences in battle, and thoughts of home; also an account from a survivor of the sinking of the hospital ship 'Anglia' in the Channel.

VI

Recollections – Men and Things
Many names and anecdotes of clergy, laymen and others known and befriended during the author's ministry — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.

VII

Books and Travel
Author's favourite reading, details and a bibliography of other published work, and travel.

VIII

In Memoriam – Mary Odom
A very personal tribute from the author to his wife, Mary, who died in 1913.

IX

"God and Cæsar." A Sermon preached before the Mayor and Corporation.
Text of a sermon preached at Sheffield Parish Church in 1887.

X

THIS PAGE: "Public Worship — its Methods," a paper read in London, 1903.

Names of Subscribers
(the names of over 250 subscribers listed alphabetically by surname, of interest to those who may be "ancestor hunting" (in many cases only initials are given, not christian names).
Please note these are only the names of pre-publication subscribers as printed in the book, but many more individuals are mentioned in the text whose names have not been indexed. Throughout this transcript most names have been highlighted in bold at least once (not necessarily if they are repeated). If searching for specific surnames, place names or any other information through the various chapters, make use of the Find or Search facility in your browser while on each page.

Illustrations from the book — click thumbnails for enlargement in a new window
(for chapters and contents, see list above)

Interior of Sheffield Cathedral - click for enlargement

Interior of Sheffield Cathedral Church
(St Peter & St Paul)

Leonard Hedley Burrows, Bishop of Sheffield - click for enlargement

The Bishop of Sheffield, Leonard Hedley Burrows, D.D.,
to whom the book is dedicated

St Simon's Church, Sheffield - click for enlargement

St. Simon's Church, Sheffield (covered in Chapter III)

Exterior of Christ Church, Heeley - click for enlargement

Christ Church, Heeley: exterior
(the author's time at Heeley is covered in Chapter IV)

Interior of Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Heeley Church: Interior

Floor plan of Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Floor plan of Heeley Church,
dating the various extensions

Whit-Monday at Heeley - click for enlargement

Whit-Monday at Heeley
(no date given, but possibly ca. 1916/1917)

Heeley Vicarage - click for enlargement

Heeley Vicarage
The individuals are not named, but could well be Rev and Mrs Odom

Rev. Canon William Odom - click for enlargement

The author,
Rev. Canon William Odom

Memorial Cross, Heeley Churchyard - click for enlargement

Memorial Cross for Mary Odom,
Heeley Churchyard (see Chapter VIII)

Memorial Window, Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Memorial and Commemoration Window, Heeley Church

Dedication - click for enlargement

This copy of the book includes a handwritten dedication
from the author to the Bishop of Sheffield, 1917



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