MOST RECENT POSTS

In this column you will find the most recent posts unless you have selected a specific poem, meditation or collection/index in which case that single item will appear here.

Friday, 3 February 2017

We Are Living! Celebration post for a Celebration day (Sing of God and Science 6)

πŸ˜„                            πŸ˜„
  πŸ˜„                       πŸ˜„
    πŸ˜„      πŸ˜„       πŸ˜„
      πŸ˜„ πŸ˜„ πŸ˜„ πŸ˜„     E   ARE    LIVING!
        πŸ˜„         πŸ˜„  

This is a special post to the collection of Assembly-friendly songs on this blog, entitled ’Sing of God and Science’, written mainly for primary schools and groups working with children of those ages. It celebrates our going to Lambeth Palace TODAY for a reception of the latest round of grant recipients under the ’Scientists in Congregations’ programme - and we are one of them!

The grant is to enable us to work with the church schools in Ely Diocese (of the Church of England) to develop a songbook to be called by the same name as the collection referred to above. It is planned that it will have about 30 songs and a number of these will be written by schools themselves. We hope it will be available nationally later this year.

Some of the songs will be performed by schools at the Science Festival in Ely cathedral in May. They will then be videoed and put up on a dedicated You-Tube channel. I’ll keep you in the picture.

So to celebrate the day, here is a VERY simple song sung to the tune of ‘London’s Burning’ and will hopefully be manageable by very young children.

We are living! 
We are living!
Let’s be thankful,
Let’s be thankful
For food ,
and air,
And clean water,
and clean water.

This introductory part collection of ‘Sing of God and Science’ songs can be found HERE

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

First Light

With the days lengthening, first light in our east-facing bedroom window is at a gentle time - but still sometimes a challenge, as this short poem reflects. 



Glimmering rays
stream through
a crack in my curtains, 
to rest upon my unseeing eye.

I prise open
a single lid
to be startled by glory.

Over a further 
half-hour of struggle,
(and sometimes longer)
I repeat the exercise,
again and again,
gradually delighting more
at the myriad changes
in an exquisite sliver of sky-scape.
Time has come to embrace my day
and place it in the hands of God.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Full Moon Rises, Huge and Bright (Sing of God and Science No 5)

This short, simple song, using a very familiar hymn tune, aims to engage young children with a curiosity as to why something happens - and still, even today, leaves a question mark!

Full Moon Rises Huge and Bright

  

Full  moon rises huge and bright,
In the East, a glorious sight.
    God’s great wonders still endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

That same night it’s way up high,
Seeming smaller in the sky.
Chorus

Why the difference to our eye?
Ah! It’s still a mystery.
Chorus

Maybe soon, a clever brain
Will explain this vision strange.
Chorus


Other 'Songs of God and Science' suitable for Assemblies and All Age services can be found HERE. More will be added to this selection in Spring 2017.



Wednesday, 21 December 2016

It Really Isn’t Odd (That Scientists Think About God - Sing of God and Science 4)



With term ended, some teachers will already be looking at their plans for next term: this is the fourth ‘Sing of God and Science’ song. I hope it will be usable in Key Stage 1 Assemblies and with children of a similar age elsewhere - and I hope they enjoy singing it

It Really Isn’t Odd (That Scientists Think About God)

Pupil or small number read out a very simple science statement each starting
‘Scientists can help us understand how…
·      Ice turns to water when it gets warmer’
·      Light bends in water
·      How our lungs use the air we breathe

Then class/ choir sings



It really isn’t odd
That scientists think about God,
For they’re looking at the facts
Of just how matter acts.
Yes! They’re bound to think about God.

This happens 3 or 4 times over.


More ‘Sing of God and Science’ songs can be found HERE.

More will be added to this selection in Spring 2017.



Thursday, 1 December 2016

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS AND LINKS TO ALL THE NEWLY PUBLISHED CAROLS ON THIS BLOG SINCE ITS START

AN ANGEL TOLD SHEPHERDS WITH GREAT, GREAT JOY (CAROL) (Click here)
A simple-to- learn children's carol which tells of the birth of Jesus and the Salvation story

AT BETHLEHEM IN BORROWED CATTLE STALL (CAROL) (Click here):
 A carol based on the beautiful French folksong Plaisir D'Amour with a fanfare chorus based on the magnificent  Isaiah prophecy "Wonderful, Counsellor... 


BEFORE THE CREATION, THE WORD WAS WITH GOD (HYMN) (Click Here)
A sung version of The Christmas Gospel (John 1. 1 - 15). Sing it  to the tune 'To God be The Glory


BE STILL, SMALL EARTH (CAROL) (Click Here),
also known as 'A Carol of the Cosmos' as it celebrates the cosmic disturbances that marked the birth of Jesus. This is written to be sung to the hymn tune from Finlandia (Please observe the copyright note printed with this carol).


GO TO NAZARETH MY GREAT MESSENGER (CAROL) Click Here Imagines God instructing His Angels from The Annunciation to the warning to Joseph to flee with his new family to Egypt. Lively dance-style tune.

OVER PLAINS OF ARABIA ONE CRYSTAL NIGHT (STAR OF JUBILEE) Click HereStory of the Star sung to the Shaker Tune used for Sidney Carter’s 'Lord of the Dance’

PRAISE THE CREATOR GOD Click Here
Hills of The North Rejoice reframed to start with creation and build to the crescendo of Advent.

STABLE TALK (This Mangers Well Made) - Click HERE
A new carol that gives Joseph a ‘voice’ in the stable as he imagines the future for his new-born son

STARS AND PLANETS SING YOUR GLORY  (HYMN) (Click here).

This hymn of praise, (can be sung ‘Lux Eoi’ (preferred tune) or to the Beethoven tune used for 'Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee’ or another 8.8.8.8 tune) is suitable as a Christmas hymn but can also be used at other times to celebrate Christ as the Lord of the entire cosmos.


STAR OF HIGH HEAVEN by John B Hobbs (Click Here)
Children’s Carol for the Epiphany to the Low German Folk tune Dat Du min leefste best’.

VIVID WINTER'S MORN (CAROL) (Click here)
This carol is intended to be played and sung in rock style

Whilst this post consists of all the contemporary Carols published on this blog, there are also childrens Christmas activities on this blog which you can access by clicking HERE

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Advent: Waiting

Quell my impatience, Lord,
as we enter this time of waiting.
Captivate my soul, so I yearn
to conquer the spirit of the age
which ever strives for the next,
and the next, and the next.

Still me, so I can empty my mind
of the siren voices
that would have me travel with them
this way and that.           
To exotic destinations;
to imagined riches;
to perfections of the body;
to extremes of luxury;
to enticements of novelty.

Then, in the silence, Come.
Steal beautifully into my waiting
and suffuse my whole being
with the calm of Your presence,
so I may contemplate
the glory of your coming
as a child, as a servant King,
as Redeemer of the world.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Other Advent items, together with 12 contemporary carols can be found HERE


Thursday, 10 November 2016

Sing of God and Science (Sing of God and Science 3)


Here’s the ‘banner song’ for the Assembly-friendly and All Age, Science and Faith songs. I hope it’s really helpful in showing Science and Faith as partners in revealing the sheer Awe and Wonder of God’s Universe.
Sing it to the tune of ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’.

Sing of faith and science,
Two ways to understand
The glory of God’s universe,
The wonder of his plan:
The living and the fossil,
The sky, the sea, the air,
The beauty that surrounds us
And his love, our hope, his care.

Sing of faith and science,
Two ways to understand
The glory of God’s universe,
The tiny and the grand.
The vastness of creation,
The world of DNA,
The puzzle of the dinosaurs
And life on earth today.

Sing of faith and science,
Two ways to understand
The glory of his universe,
God’s gift of Word and hand,
The streaming of creation
From nothing into now,
when science helps us understand
not ‘why?’ but often ‘how?’.


© Trevor Thorn: October 2016

This is one of a small collection of Faith and Science songs written to be Assembly and All-Age friendly. The collection can be accessed HERE. The collection will be expanded over the next few weeks and months.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Bottled Water (Double Horror)

This post is to mark the ratification of the Paris Climate Change deal - and suggests a simple change many of us could make to improve the precious ecosystem of our common home. Please relay to others who might be prepared to be thoughtful about this.


Bottled Water: A song about a double iniquity
Sing
This pricey bottled water
is the same as from the tap
- both of them are H2O
so why the costly gap?
The charge is for the bottles* which
at sea disintegrate
Into a billion fragments
Sealing shoals of fishes’ fates.

Then change rhythm and chant
Come on, buy a flask to fill as you need:
Your water stays cool; It's a save-the-earth deed.

Of course, further thought makes it clear that the premium price arises through marketing (puff), labeling (sometimes with questionable claims), and the infrastructure costs of moving heavy loads of water on roads and by other expensive transport means, rather than by the sensible practice of drinkable water being transferred from reservoir to tap by pipe wherever water is in adequate supply So that is what adds to the price of bottles, but I would suggest the poetic licence in the song is more justifiable than charging massively for such an often readily-available life-sustainer.

Other ‘Care of our planet/ our common home’ items can be found HERE.
More will be added to this selection in Spring 2017.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Bible Starts with Parable. (Sing of God and Science 2)

Cross-stitch emblem for Christ’s 
Lordship over the Cosmos


 In my last post, I promised to return to the main theme of this blog, rather than dwell on the changing effects of my chemotherapy course. This post will be faithful to that promise but, as there are some readers who are following our story and have made it clear they would like news, here is a very brief update.

I am extremely relieved to say the treatment, now in its sixth day has gone very well so far: none of the horrid side effects we were (properly) warned of and I still have my hair (O vanity!). Now I am off the steroids, which undoubtedly fuelled my energy levels as the course started, we will see to what degree tiredness sets in. From this very short synopsis, you will understand that Pam and I feel VERY thankful for this good start and continue to be grateful for the generous practical and prayer support we are receiving. It is good to be surrounded by, and in contact with so many Christian friends at a time like this.

So, on to the Science and Faith.

With energy levels high, I have been able to produce several new songs – and this one can be sung to the lively  traditional Tyrolean tune, called simply ‘Tyrol’, the score of which follows the words.

The Bible Starts with Parable (Tune: Tyrol)
The Bible starts with parable,
Creation in six days,
And then God rests, encouraging
A day set by for praise.
The Bible’s second parable;
Lies in a garden fair;
Where Eve and Adam struggle to
Resist the serpent’s dare.

These stories are by Wisdom shaped,
The Ancients taught them well,
How at God’s Word creation sprang
And human beings ‘fell’.
But this is not our history,
the truth is greater still,
A whole cosmos from nothing came
Through God’s almighty will.

It grew from minute particles
To stars and galaxies,
And planets grew round mighty suns.
Earth-life came latterly.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
When science helps make clear
How beauty, awe and wonder flow,
Through all creation’s spheres.

© Trevor Thorn: October 2016

Score (Click to enlarge)




I have a number of observations about the text which I’d like to share.
First, this is one of a series of songs being developed to encourage churches, schools, para-church groups (and maybe even the general public) to start singing to celebrate that Faith and science can be dynamic partners in reflecting the glory of God evident all around us.

It is to be hoped that the lively tune and the theme will appeal to children and young people particularly (although there are more songs being developed especially for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 children). There is no doubt that many young people, and others, are struggling with the question of whether science and faith are in opposition to each other. If this song can reassure even some such people that it is perfectly possible to see the two in harmony, then it will have achieved what is hoped.

There could be a very interesting use for this song during any local Festivals of Nine Lessons and Carols (made internationally famous by Kings College, Cambridge). If it were to be placed as an ‘interjection’ after the reading about Adam and Eve, which is a traditional reading in the  lovely Festival, it would cast across the remaining story of the unfolding of the coming of Jesus,  an interweaving of the remarkable understandings of contemporary cosmology with all their overtones of glory, wonder and awe. I sense that could be a very thought-provoking moment or two.

Just a word about the genesis of this song: it emerged - almost spilled out during one of the sleepless spells that have been part of the last few days. I like to think of it, at least in part, as an answer to my regularly used ‘Prayer for Creativity’. You can find that from the link at the foot of this entry. 

Finally, if you are in Christian leadership of any kind and want to help others to wrestle with the challenges of science and faith together or apart, then do feel entirely free to send this to others engaged in the same ministry of encouragement. The sooner we start to sing it, the more the idea will blossom and grow.

May God bless you all. Trevor

Find the Prayer for Creativity HERE
Another Assembly-friendly song is I’m Making Friends with Science.Click on name to go to it.
More will be added to this selection in Spring 2017.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Shock, Puzzlement and Prayer 2/ Gossamer Spectrum


This has been a week for patience – and I suspect is going to be a preparation for several similar ones as we move into a Chemotherapy regime.

As mentioned last week, there was one late shock as the respiratory doctor bowed out, handing us over to the oncology/haematology team. He admitted he had thought that he was going to be telling us I ‘only had weeks’ when he had believed I had lung cancer: but with it being a lymphoma, there is a good chance of ultimate recovery (although it would always be referred to as ‘in remission’), both reminders of our mortality and vulnerability. Interestingly, Pam had already intuited that the respiratory doctor had been thinking along those very bleak lines, whereas I had been blithely (not sure that really is the right word) thinking in terms of a few years. So, in this, a sharp reminder of just how hard this sort of path is for a spouse or a partner who truly cares for their ‘other-half’.

Now, over to the oncology clinic and a minor shock of a different kind. The clinic was awash with people of all adult ages and stages: young women with scarves on their heads, elderly folk looking battered and scared, middle aged people with multiple tattoos and rings (Oh dear! I really doneed to take a check on my prejudices! I’m going to be sharing facilities with many of this group for some long weeks ahead); they treat 4000 new cases every year! But in all of this we realise again just how fortunate we are to be so close to such a well resourced hospital and also realize how often this disease visits much younger people: people who have to balance their treatment with demanding jobs and people with children to tend to and cope with the children’s fears as well as their own. A prayer-in-every-chair, it seemed to me.

Thankfully this week of waiting is not one of complete inaction. In order to get me as well prepared for the chemotherapy as possible, I was put straight on to a daily dose of steroids and in just a few days that has brought relief from the presenting symptoms of acute coughing and low energy. Two mile walks have suddenly become practicable (delightful to walk by the river again) and my appetite has improved significantly: the wonders of modern medicine! More to be thankful for.

But the other part of this week is the not knowing. I guess most of us find that one of the hardest times of life. When will the chemo start? Friday or next week? How to plan this weekend; how will I react to the chemo? How necessary might the emergency card I’ve been given be – am I really likely to succumb to a sepsis? How will my appetite ebb and flow, if it does? Problems for Pam and me to share and another pause to reflect on what a lonely road this must be for single people to tread.

Then there is the literature – a folder full of several books mainly from cancer charities and SO-O-O much information to try and take in. How difficult for the not-particularly articulate? And hiding in amongst all that, a recommendation to take up or revive a hobby to give purpose to the possibly gruelling way ahead. This for me, not difficult: I will continue to pen as many verses as I can – and that, I will enjoy unless my brain is so addled, which I understand happens to some chemo patients. Another unknown.

So one of the lessons has to be to live each day for itself and rejoice in those that are good. In the night, the steroids (I assume) woke me suddenly in the early hours. An opportunity to edit a seasonal poem I jotted last week and once again in thanksgiving mode, I end this journal-style entry with it. We will, of course, continue to value your prayers – thank you again to so very many of you.

Gossamer Spectrum

Sun emerging from an autumn mist
slants across fine gossamer weavings
that bedeck the window pane.

The angle of the shafts of the sun
and the seat from which I gaze
Is accidentally perfect;
for each near-parallel thread
glistens with
an exquisitely fine spectrum.

A Spider’s overnight endeavours
delicately revealing the complexity
of our star’s life-giving, visible rays,
and I give thanks.

It is not my intention these journal-style entries should become frequent bulletins: I will try to record only the more significant times – and in between simply share some of my more ‘normal-style’ poetry with its usual 1 to 3 week frequency.





Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Profound Shock, a Puzzle and a Prayer for Healing.

Sunrise in the mist across the fen
from our bedroom window, this morning
taken by Pam, my wife

The Shock
Eight days ago, our world was upended and we are still in shock. A protracted cough with accompanying breathlessness lead to a series of scans and a diagnosis that I had Lung Cancer – treatable but not curable, said the doctor. A further investigation (bronchoschopy with biopsies) revealed that the condition is not Lung Cancer but Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. So, still a cancer necessitating chemotherapy and probably other treatment, but, we are told by the medics, and in light of people telling us of other peoples’ experiences, that this is both treatable and curable. We are now waiting to hear when treatment will start, slightly less shocked than we were and with a profound sense of relief, that there is hope extending beyond just a few months - or even, just weeks.

As we have reflected on the uncertainties we face, we have to recognize that this personal awfulness is little compared to that faced by the brutalized people of Aleppo, those desperately risking crossing the Mediterranean and literally millions of oppressed people across the globe. With Addenbrookes hospital only half an hour away, we are, by comparison, mightily, mightily blessed – but we are, nevertheless, inevitably anxious about what the future might hold for us.

As well as having this remarkable medical facility close by, we have been greatly comforted by the assurance of prayers of many, many friends, both here in the UK and abroad and we give grateful thanks to them all for that very special support.

The Puzzle.
We know from other people, and are now experiencing it ourselves, just how hard it is amidst such uncertainty and upheaval, to pray for ourselves – it feels as if we are simply letting our many friends shoulder that burden. I know in the past we have suggested to others that is something God entirely understands, but it still has a puzzling sense of not easily being able to ‘play our part’ in this outpouring of other peoples’ compassion and love. Even though we have over many years been involved in the ministry of healing and walked alongside others who have been suffering in a variety of ways, this aspect still feels a puzzle. However, as I lay awake last night through a somewhat ‘dark watch’, an idea occurred.

Prayer for Healing.
I would find it difficult to ‘batter’ God with pleas for a restoration to health.

But I have, since encountering it through a talk by Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward, (former Bishop of Coventry) been fascinated by the many possibilities there seem to be of using ‘The Jesus Prayer’. I have written elsewhere on this blog (links below) of using the Prayer in its traditional way of being a preparation for prayer and of framing it as a confessional prayer. At a wholly different, and some might think, a trivial level, I have found it a great comfort at times I have not been able to sleep. It bathes that time in prayer and is immensely more helpful than counting animals jumping gates! (at least it is for me). As I moved into that cycle of petition last night, I realized the prayer could easily accommodate an extra phrase, which would readily reflect my present condition. So I tested it,

            Lord Jesus Christ,
            Son of God,
            To whom the sick cried out for help,
            Have mercy upon me, a sinner.

As with the whole of the original prayer, in praying it, we are joined with the complete nature of Christ, his deity and his love and it seems to me the extra line highlights his compassion and draws us into that particular aspect of our Saviour’s love as we repeat the prayer. The Jesus Prayer is, as observed by many, a way of moving closer towards St Paul’s otherwise difficult injunction (for many of us) to ‘pray at all times, without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5.17). So, with each repetition, I remind myself of the healing power of the Saviour and by implication call on Him to help me – and all those others who need his succour. (In the form I have written this above, the new line, in italics, is historically correct: some may prefer to frame the line in the present tense.)

So, perhaps others may find this a way of bringing their awkward feelings about self-focused personal petitions into Christ’s presence and if this proves helpful, then I will be glad.

And, in the meantime, we would, of course, value YOUR prayers. Trevor.

Other entries about The Jesus Prayer on this blog: The Jesus Prayer as a framework for confession and The Jesus Prayer Illustrated


Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'