I really felt unusually affected at Mass this morning. Three hymns: Praise to the Holiest ..., which Pam and I had at our Wedding: suitable also because in 1828 Mr Newman contributed to raising the floor-level of S Thomas's above the flood-level of the Thames - and his scout John Hayworth was a life-long worshipper at S Thomas's. And Sweet Sacrament Divine. And, at the end, Glory be to Jesus. I had that at my Licensing to S Thomas's, unaware as I made the choice that it is painted on the roof-beams of the church ... so that it was presumably a favourite hymn of the great Canon Thomas Chamberlain, who made the church the first parish church in which the ideals of the Oxford Movement were given practical expression. Lift ye then your voices; Swell the mighty flood: Louder still and louder Praise the precious Blood.
After the Angelus, we polished off a quick Vestry Meeting before the Churchwardens, staves in their hands, led us to the Shrine of S Thomas for the devotions traditional on festivals of S Thomas. These end with the Antiphon ad Magnificat in the Sarum Breviary: Salve, Thoma, virga justitiae, mundi jubar, robur Ecclesiae, plebis amor, cleri deliciae: Salve, gregis tutor egregie; salva tuae gaudentes gloriae. Then, in what I found a most moving gesture, the Churchwardens laid down their staves of office and left them at the feet of S Thomas.
In my view, Churchwardens are a crucial element in the Anglican Patrimony, inherited from a medieval Church in which each of the innumerable guilds had its own Wardens, all under the ultimate control of the "High Wardens". As an indication of lay dignity and of the intricate corporate communal life of a medieval parish, they should be one of our most important contributions to the Wider Church.
Grace and life eternal In that Blood I find; Blest be His compassion, Infinitely kind. Deo gratias.