Category Archives: Worship

Baby Loss Service: Sunday 29th April, 6.30pm

Revd Tim writes:

When I first came to the village a few years ago, I remember a village tree was ‘yarnbombed’ to support Tommy’s – a charity which funds research into the causes of miscarriage, still birth and premature birth. This made an impact and I cut out the article and still have it. At the time Sophy had just given birth to Jem, but he was our third pregnancy. So this is an issue close to my heart. Since coming to Redbourn, holding a service for those of us who have lost children, at whatever stage and under whatever circumstances, was something I wanted to do.

Loss at any stage of pregnancy is traumatic. Early loss is often not acknowledged or discussed, with commemorative services seldom taking place. Services for babies who are stillborn or lost in early years, are usually conducted whilst parents are in a fog of grief and pain.

This service, to be held at St Mary’s, is for anyone who has never had the opportunity to grieve the loss of a child, as well as for their children and their extended family and friends, whether the loss be recent or historic. Additionally, anyone who is grieving the fact that they have never had children is also welcome.

All are welcome regardless of the type or circumstances of loss they have experienced. Whether you have been through early or late miscarriage, missed miscarriage, compassion induction, an ectopic or molar pregnancy, stillbirth, neonatal or early infant loss or any other type of baby or child loss.

If you need to say goodbye to a baby or to grieve, or you want to come along with a friend who needs to say goodbye, you are welcome. The service will give you the opportunity to stand with other people who ‘know’ the pain of losing a child, whatever the circumstances, and to offer you a time to publicly acknowledge and remember children who have been lost.

There will also be non-judgemental pastoral support available after the service for anyone who needs it.

Lord, we pray for those who mourn, for parents and children, friends and neighbours.

Be gentle with them in their grief.

Show them the depths of your love, a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven.

Spare them the torment of guilt and despair.

Be with them as they weep beside the empty tomb of our risen Saviour,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holy Week: Palm Sunday to Easter Day

PALM SUNDAY – 25th March

This coming Sunday we celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus entering Jerusalem to be greeted by the crowds. We gather at the Cricket Pavilion at 9.15 am to hear the story and then, carrying palms and singing hymns, we make our joyful procession to St Mary’s for our Parish Eucharist, which this year includes a dramatic reading of the Passion story led by members of our Gospellers.

6.30 pm – The Way of the Cross’, a powerful service with choir anthems, hymns, readings and prayers for the start of Holy Week.  Click here for more information.

MONDAY, TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK 26th, 27th & 28th March, 8.00pm

Each evening we gather to share the Eucharist, a lovely quiet and reflective service ‘in the round’ in the Chancel area of the church. Each night, Will offers a devotional address to help us enter more deeply into the meaning and events of the last days of Jesus’ life.


8.00 pm           THE LORD’S SUPPER with FOOT WASHING

Our evening service recalls the events of the Last Supper, the washing of feet and Jesus’ gift to us of the Eucharist. It starts with joy; but over it lies the shadow of the Cross, the Agony of Gethsemane and the torment of Good Friday. What begins as an occasion of rejoicing and thanksgiving ends on a different note in this extraordinarily powerful service. The Stripping of the Altars, the removal of all ornaments from the Sanctuary, the exit of choir, ministers and congregation in silence, all symbolise Christ’s isolation and loneliness.

Before that, however, there is the solemn procession to the Altar of Repose, symbolising the walk of Jesus and his disciples from the Upper Room out to the Garden of Gethsemane.

On arrival at the Altar of Repose the sacrament is placed on the Altar surrounded by flowers, reminding us of Gethsemane where Christ in his Sacrament waits; and we watch and pray with him in a vigil up until midnight…

9.00 pm           THE VIGIL OF GETHSEMANE until midnight, concluding with

11.50 pm         COMPLINE

GOOD FRIDAY – 30th March

10.00 am         ALL AGE SERVICE

Our All Age Service is suitable for everyone. We gather to offer our songs, prayers and readings as we remember the events of the first Good Friday and Jesus going to the Cross to die for us.

The Easter Garden – decorated by our Friday morning Teddy Tots – will be on display for the first time after the service and then we make our way to the Transept for Hot Cross buns and other refreshments.

11.30 am         WALK OF WITNESS from St John Fisher RC Church to the Common

We gather outside St John Fisher Roman Catholic Church on Dunstable Road to begin a Walk of Witness shared with Christians from all the different churches in Redbourn. At various points we stop to hear another part of the last hours of Jesus’ life, to pray and to offer a hymn as we celebrate our shared faith in Christ. All are welcome – young and old – as we walk and witness together.

1.30 pm           GOOD FRIDAY LITURGY with COMMUNION

A stark, solemn and incredibly moving service offered at St Mary’s at the very time when we recall Jesus hanging on the Cross. The service includes a reading of the Passion story, the veneration of the Cross, a powerful Litany of prayers and an opportunity to receive Christ’s body and blood in the sharing of Communion with him in his death for each and every one of us.

EASTER DAY – 1st April

6.00 am           DAWN VIGIL followed by PARISH BREAKFAST, leading into


10.00 am         ALL AGE EUCHARIST followed by Easter Egg Hunt

12 noon           HOLY COMMUNION

6.30 pm           FESTAL EVENSONG for EASTER with St Mary’s Choir

Our Easter celebrations start at dawn with the Vigil of Readings, as we hear again the story of our salvation, fill the church with the new light of Easter, finishing with a splendid cooked breakfast. Our services continue with 8.00am, 10.00am (All Age) and 12 noon celebrations and we round of the day with a splendid Choral Evensong led by our choir.


Monday 2nd April

On Easter Monday we join in the traditional Easter Pilgrimage to St Albans Abbey to join with thousands of others from around the Diocese. Read more on the Pilgrimage Website.

We meet at 10.15 am for breakfast in the Transept, then set off at 11.00am and make the gentle walk along the River Ver to St Albans where we share a picnic lunch on the Abbey Orchard (bring your own) and then join in the joyful All Age Service at 3.00pm. Please sign up in church if you’re coming so we know how many to expect. Dogs welcome!


Music for Palm Sunday: The Way of the Cross, 25 March 6.30pm

Music plays a significant part in this service. ‘Ride on’ by Grayston Ives (b1948) was commissioned for the Ash Wednesday to Easter for Choirs volume (1998) in the comprehensive OUP series of albums of choral music for all seasons. Away from composing he is Bill Ives, former tenor in the King’s Singers and more recently director of the choir at Magdalen College, Oxford (actually Informator Choristarum). In this post he was responsible for the 2003 recording of the music of Orlando Gibbons (With a Merrie Noyse) which was one of the earliest recordings of Tudor music to explore the use of lower pitch and a choir with high tenors instead of altos. (See last month’s blog.) The words are those of the hymn (HON 435) by Henry Hart Milman (1791-1868), an interesting character whose biography on Wikipedia is well worth reading. The music follows the upbeat nature of the words with prominent use of a rising 5th until “in lowly pomp ride on to die” where all becomes much softer and the choir sings on one note to the end. The organ is independent of the choir throughout and is dominated by the rhythm – crotchet, dotted minim – perhaps illustrating the inevitability of what is to come.

And this is where O vos omnes (O all ye that pass by the way, attend and see: if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow) follows on. The text is an adaptation of Lamentations 1:12 of the Latin Vulgate Bible used as a responsary for Holy Week. If the English translation does not seem quite right, as it doesn’t to me, it’s probably because of familiarity with the King James version, which starts ‘Is it nothing to you’ and which has been set by Ouseley, and Stainer in The Crucifixion. O vos omnes (I wish my computer wouldn’t “correct” my Latin!) was set by almost anyone you can think of in the sixteenth century – and many more since. Our version is by someone you might not have thought of, Giovanni Croce (c1557-1609), a Venetian priest who wrote much music including a set of 4-part motets published in 1597, which almost certainly included this piece. It is simple in style, but effective in communicating the text. Croce was described in a contemporary report as “a reliable singer of moderate quality”. Some of us might be reasonably pleased with such a comment, but I’m not sure it was intended as a compliment at the time.

With The Reproaches by John Sanders (1933-2003) we have reached Good Friday. I wrote about this remarkable piece last year. The Latin Improperia have been in the liturgy since at least the ninth century, but were deleted from the English rite at the Reformation, only to be restored at a later point. If O vos omnes has been set by numerous composers, it is surprising that the Improperia have attracted few, only Palestrina and Victoria of the sixteenth century. Sanders’ setting, in English, has three refrains, two different settings of Micah 6:3, “O my people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!” and the other “Holy is God, holy and strong, holy Immortal One, have mercy on us”, the text of a Greek hymn from the 5th century with references to the Sanctus (Isaiah 6:3 and/or Revelation 4:8). These multi-part refrains are contrasted with single-line plainsong verses, all in a two-part structure as in the first verse: “I led you out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom; but you led your Saviour to the cross.” The form is that of a traditional responsary, such as Allegri’s Miserere, also linked inextricably with Lent, but the slow, languid and rich harmony, often in 8 parts, is more reminiscent of Gesualdo but with 20th-century twists. The penitential mood is set by the preponderance of minor chords: there are only three major chords in the piece. This results in tonally unrelated sequences, for example, G minor-B minor-F minor-A minor at “Holy is God”.

I’m interested in the derivation of hymn tune names, and here’s a bit of obscure pub quiz information. Sir Sydney Nicholson, of whom I wrote for February’s choral evensong, composed the tune to our first hymn ‘We sing the praise of him who died’ (HON 536) and called it Bow Brickhill, which is a village near Milton Keynes. All Saints’ church had a visit from Sir Sydney and the choristers of Westminster Abbey in 1923 and this tune honours that occasion. Also, fittingly, we sing two great chorale tunes used by Bach in his Passions, though sadly HON gives only one of Bach’s matchless harmonisations.

Jonathan plays us out to JS Bach’s Fantasia in G minor BWV542. The improvisatory opening, with all the interest in the right hand and chords beneath, alternates with more rhythmic and contrapuntal sections. Bach thought in such a linear way that even the introductions to his fugues contain fugal passages. Partly because of this, these introductions (fantasias, preludes, toccatas) can stand as complete pieces in their own right.

Damian Cranmer