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Morning Prayer

The Opening

Opening Sentence

In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3

Hymn: All Earth is waiting

All Earth is waiting to see the Promised One,
and open furrows, the sowing of our God.
All the world, bound and struggling,
seeks true liberty;
it cries out for justice and searches for the truth.

Thus says the prophet to those of Israel,
"A virgin mother will bear Emmanuel":
For his name is "God with us," our Savior shall be,
with him hope shall blossom in our hearts.

Mountains and valleys will have to be made plain;
open new highways, new highways for our Lord,
He is now coming closer, so come all and see,
and open the doorways,
as wide as can be.

In lowly stable the Promised One appeared,
yet feel His presence throughout the Earth today,
For He lives in all Christians and is with us now;
again, on arriving
He brings us liberty.


Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.

Versicle and Response

Lord, open our lips.

And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.

Our King and Savior now draws near:
Come let us adore him.


Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.

Know this: the Lord himself is God;
he himself has made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting;
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.


Our King and Savior now draws near:
Come let us adore him.

The Psalm

119: 145-176 or

Qoph Clamavi in toto corde meo

145I call with my whole heart; *
answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statutes.
146I call to you;
oh, that you would save me! *
I will keep your decrees.
147Early in the morning I cry out to you, *
for in your word is my trust.
148My eyes are open in the night watches, *
that I may meditate upon your promise.
149Hear my voice, O Lord, according to your loving-kindness; *
according to your judgments, give me life.
150They draw near who in malice persecute me; *
they are very far from your law.
151You, O Lord, are near at hand, *
and all your commandments are true.
152Long have I known from your decrees *
that you have established them for ever.

Resh Vide humilitatem

153Behold my affliction and deliver me, *
for I do not forget your law.
154Plead my cause and redeem me; *
according to your promise, give me life.
155Deliverance is far from the wicked, *
for they do not study your statutes.
156Great is your compassion, O Lord; *
preserve my life, according to your judgments.
157There are many who persecute and oppress me, *
yet I have not swerved from your decrees.
158I look with loathing at the faithless, *
for they have not kept your word.
159See how I love your commandments! *
O Lord, in your mercy, preserve me.
160The heart of your word is truth; *
all your righteous judgments endure for evermore.

Shin Principes persecuti sunt

161Rulers have persecuted me without a cause, *
but my heart stands in awe of your word.
162I am as glad because of your promise *
as one who finds great spoils.
163As for lies, I hate and abhor them, *
but your law is my love.
164Seven times a day do I praise you, *
because of your righteous judgments.
165Great peace have they who love your law; *
for them there is no stumbling block.
166I have hoped for your salvation, O Lord, *
and have fulfilled your commandments.
167I have kept your decrees *
and I have loved them deeply.
168I have kept your commandments and decrees, *
for all my ways are before you.

Taw Appropinquet deprecatio

169Let my cry come before you, O Lord; *
give me understanding, according to your word.
170Let my supplication come before you; *
deliver me, according to your promise.
171My lips shall pour forth your praise, *
when you teach me your statutes.
172My tongue shall sing of your promise, *
for all your commandments are righteous.
173Let your hand be ready to help me, *
for I have chosen your commandments.
174I long for your salvation, O Lord, *
and your law is my delight.
175Let me live, and I will praise you, *
and let your judgments help me.
176I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; *
search for your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.

Gloria Patri

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost:
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and ever shall be.
World without end. Amen. Amen.

The Lessons

The Old Testament Lesson

Amos 3:12-4:5

12Thus says the Lord: As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who live in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed.13Hear, and testify against the house of Jacob, says the Lord God, the God of hosts:14On the day I punish Israel for its transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground.15I will tear down the winter house as well as the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end, says the Lord.

4Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on Mount Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands, “Bring something to drink!”2The Lord God has sworn by his holiness: The time is surely coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks.3Through breaches in the wall you shall leave, each one straight ahead; and you shall be flung out into Harmon, says the Lord.4Come to Bethel—and transgress; to Gilgal—and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days;5bring a thank-offering of leavened bread, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel! says the Lord God.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Canticle 11 The Third Song of Isaiah
Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19
Surge, illuminare

Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.

For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.

But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you.

Nations will stream to your light, *
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.

Your gates will always be open; *
by day or night they will never be shut.

They will call you, The City of the Lord, *
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Violence will no more be heard in your land, *
ruin or destruction within your borders.

You will call your walls, Salvation, *
and all your portals, Praise.

The sun will no more be your light by day; *
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.

The Lord will be your everlasting light, *
and your God will be your glory.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The New Testament Lesson

2 Peter 3:1-10

1This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you2that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles.

3First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts4and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!”5They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water,6through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished.7But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.

8But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.

9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Canticle 16
The Song of Zechariah
Benedictus Dominus Deus

Luke 1:68-79

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Gospel

Matthew 21:23-32

23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things.25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.”27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went.30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go.31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

The Creed

The Apostle's Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Prayers

The Lord's Prayer

or traditional

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.


Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;

Govern and uphold them, now and always.

Day by day we bless you;

We praise your Name for ever.

Lord, keep us from all sin today;

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.

Lord, show us your love and mercy;

For we put our trust in you.

In you, Lord, is our hope;

And we shall never hope in vain.

Collect of the Day: The First Sunday of Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

For Mission

O God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men and women everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

World Cycle of Prayer

We pray for the people of Qatar

Ecumenical Cycle of Prayer

We pray for our sisters and brothers, members of the Baptist Union of Great Britain

A Collect for Peace

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

The Commemoration

Nicholas Ferrar, born in 1592, was the founder of a religious community that lasted from 1626 to 1646.

After Nicholas had been ordained as a deacon, he and his family and a few friends retired to Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, England, to devote themselves to a life of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (Matthew 6:2,5,16). They restored the abandoned church building, and became responsible for regular services there. They taught the neighborhood children, and looked after the health and well-being of the people of the district. They read the regular daily offices of the Book of Common Prayer, including the recital every day of the complete Psalter. (Day and night, there was always at least one member of the community kneeling in prayer before the altar, that they might keep the word, "Pray without ceasing.") They wrote books and stories dealing with various aspects of Christian faith and practice. They fasted with great rigor, and in other ways embraced voluntary poverty, so that they might have as much money as possible for the relief of the poor.

The community was founded in 1626 (when Nicholas was 34). He died in 1637 (aged 45), and in 1646 the community was forcibly broken up by the Puritans of Cromwell's army. The memory of the community survived to inspire and influence later undertakings in Christian communal living, and one of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets is called "Little Gidding."

written by James Kiefer

From Simon Kershaw:

James supplies various details about Nicholas Ferrar's life. This is a supplement (mostly from memory, so there may be one or two lapses).

Ferrar was born in February 1593. The date is commonly given (as James did) as 1592, but this is the usual calendar confusion: England was not then using the new calendar adopted in October 1582. It was 1593 according to our modern calendar, but at the time the new year in England began on the following 25 March.

His exact date of birth is unknown, but the Community at Little Gidding observed the quatercentenary of his baptism on 27th February this year (unfortunately we couldn't get there). I quote from Seeds (the magazine of the Friends of Little Gidding and of the Society of Christ the Sower):

On 27th February, the anniversary of Nicholas's baptism, we met in our candlelit church for a communion service using the original 1549 rite---a form of worship familiar to the Ferrars. Margaret selected a variety of readings about the life of Nicholas and the first Community; and for hymns we used some of George Herbert's poetry set to 17th century music.

[Actually the statement about the 1549 rite being familiar to the Ferrars is either a misprint or a mistake: the 1559 Prayer Book of Elizabeth I would have been the BCP they knew, and the eucharist in particular is a little different between the two books.]

His family was quite wealthy, and were heavily involved in the Virginia Company, which had a Royal Charter for the plantation of the colony of Virginia. People like Sir Walter Raleigh were often visitors to the family home in London. Ferrar's niece was named Virginia, the first known use of this name. Ferrar studied at Cambridge and would perhaps have gone on to further study and the life of a don, but the damp air of the fens was bad for his health and he travelled to Europe, spending time in the warmer climate of Italy, where he would have seen the work of Philip Neri and other Oratorians.

On his return to England he found his family had fared badly. His brother John had become over-extended financially, and the Virginia Company was in danger of losing its charter. Nicholas threw himself into preserving his family from ruin. In this he was successful, and he served for a short time as a Member of Parliament, where he tried to promote the cause of the Virginia Company (which in fact did lose its charter).

At the age of 34 he gave all this up to move to found a community of prayer. In this he was supported by his mother, Mary Ferrar, and his brother John. They discovered and bought the manor of Little Gidding, a village which had been deserted since the Black Death (a major outburst of bubonic plague in the 14th century), a few miles off the Great North Road, and probably recommended by John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln whose palace was at the nearby village of Buckden. The first thing they did was to clear the tiny church which was being used as a barn and restore it for worship. Mary Ferrar and her extended family and household (about 30 people all told) moved into the manor house. Nicholas Ferrar was ordained Deacon and was the leader and spiritual director of the community.

The community attracted much attention and was visited by the king, Charles I. He was attracted by a gospel harmony they had produced, and asked to borrow it, only returning it several months later in exchange for a promise of a new harmony to give to his son, Charles, Prince of Wales. This the Ferrars did, and the superbly produced and bound manuscript book passed through the royal collection, and is now held by the British Library. Another friend of the community was George Herbert (also born in 1593 I believe) who was a deacon and held the prebend of Leighton Bromswold, 4 or 5 miles south of Little Gidding. After being ordained priest he moved elsewhere, but died shortly afterwards, leaving Nicholas Ferrar as his "literary executor".

Ferrar, who never married, died on 4th December 1637**, and was buried outside the church in Little Gidding. The leadership of the community passed to his brother John. They were visited by the king twice more. Once he came with the Prince of Wales and donated to the community some money he had won at cards off the prince the previous night. But his third visit was in secret and at night. He was fleeing from defeat (at the battle of Naseby?) and heading north to try to enlist support from the Scots. This was Cromwell country (Cromwell himself was born in Huntingdon, had lived there and in Saint Ives, and was MP for Cambridge(?), but John brought him secretly to Little Gidding, and got him away the next day.

** I don't know why he is commemorated on the wrong day in both the ECUSA and the CofE [JEK: I assume that it is because John of Damascus is commemorated on 4 December.]

The community was now in much danger. The presbyterian Puritans were now in the ascendancy, and the community was condemned in a series of scurillous pamphlets as `an Arminian Nunnery'. (Arminius was a Dutch reformer/theologian who opposed the Calvinist doctrine of predestination and election.)

In 1646, the community was forcibly broken up by Parliamentary soldiers. The brass font was thrown into the pond (from where, much damaged, it was recovered 200 years later). The village remained the property of the Ferrar family, however, and in the early 18th century another Nicholas Ferrar restored the church, shortening the nave by about 8 feet, and building the "dull facade" as Eliot calls it.

Passing out of the family, the church was further restored in the mid 19th century by William Hodgkinson, who had the armorial stained glass (4 windows with the arms of Ferrar (incorrect), Charles I, Bishop Williams & himself) inserted, and put in a rose window at the east end (this rose window was removed a couple of years ago and replaced by a Palladian-style window with plain glass). It was Hodgkinson who discovered the font and had it restored to the church. He also put in a magnificent 18th century chandelier.

In the 20th century there was a revival of interest in Ferrar & Little Gidding, typified by the romantic historical novel John Inglesant. Bp Mandell Creighton (Bishop of London at the turn of the century) wrote an article on Ferrar for the Dictionary of National Biography. The story of how T.S. Eliot came to write the poem is told in Dame Helen Gardner's book The Composition of Four Quartets [now out or print]. He probably visited Little Gidding only once, in May 1936. A friend was writing a play about the visit of Charles I to Gidding, and asked Eliot for his comments. After writing The Dry Salvages, Eliot wanted to complete what he now saw as a set of 4 poems, and he quickly settled on Little Gidding. It was written and published during the war when it was by no means certain that English culture and religion would survive. The opening stanzas, according to Dame Helen, are the only piece of narrative verse in the Four Quartets, unique amongst Eliot's poetry. The "place you would be likely to come from" is London and the blitz, or German air raids; the "route you would be likely to take" is straight up the A1 from London and then across country just as I described yesterday, and is the same whether you are Charles I ("a broken king") or not knowing what you would find (as my own first visit). The pig-sty is now part of the community guest house.

Inspired by all these things, the Friends of Little Gidding was founded after the war, with the Bishop of Ely as president and Eliot as a vice-president. In the 1970s Robert Van de Weyer, one of whose ancestors had been Herbert's patron at Leighton Bromswold, founded a trust to buy the farm house as the start of a new community and as a place of retreat. Van de Weyer was an economics lecturer at Cambridge University, and was for a time also the (non-stipendiary) priest-in-charge of Little Gidding and several parishes around. His wife, Sarah, is a leading member of the diocesan Mothers' Union and its links with the church in Sudan. The community appears to be thriving, with (at a guess) some 30 members, families, couples and singles, of several denominations (RC, Anglican, and others) with some members working outside, others within the Community. They also own the vicarage at Leighton Bromswold where some of the younger members of the community live. There is also a guest house at Little Gidding. There's also about 300 Friends, including Karen and me. By coincidence we used to live about a dozen miles from East Coker, a pretty Somerset village, featured in another of the Quartets, where Eliot's ancestors lived before emigrating to Massachusetts, and where Eliot is buried. One day perhaps we'll get to those Dry Salvages out at Cape Ann, Mass ... perhaps one of you has been there?

We find the atractions of community life never so great as when we visit Little Gidding, a truly holy place.

POSTSCRIPT (April 1994):

The community is now called the Society of Christ the Sower. [Note: this community no longer exists.]

The Friends of Little Gidding has several hundred members, including Karen and me. Friends receive a regular newsletter from the Society, a prayer cycle of members and friends, and regular books put together by the society. Recently the book has become a book of devotional readings which may be used at the Daily Office. The first such (still current) is a series of readings culled from the writings of St Francis, and from various near-contemporary hagiographies.

Further details available on request. Hope this helps.

-- simon.kershaw@smallworld.co.uk

Several people have privately asked for more information about the Community of Christ the Sower and the Friends of Little Gidding. The following paragraphs are from the back of the Society's latest publication, a series of daily readings on the life of St Francis of Assisi.


Founded in 1947 by Alan Maycock, the Friends of Little Gidding organised for over thirty years an annual pilgrimage and raised funds for the maintenance of the church at Little Gidding. One of the original members was T.S. Eliot, whose poem entitled Little Gidding helped to renew interest in the place and its history.

Alan Maycock looked forward to community life being restored to Little Gidding. And when this occurred in the late 1970s the Friends decided to attach themselves to the Society of Christ the Sower.

Today the Friends of Little Gidding is primarily a network of prayer, and to this end a prayer calendar is sent every three months to all Friends. They also receive every six months a book in the series Daily Listening published by the Society. Many Friends also take an active interest in the life of the Society, visiting Little Gidding and corresponding with members.

The Friends of Little Gidding, Little Gidding, Huntingdon, PE17 5RJ
telephone +832 293383

Subject: A December pilgrimage

You drive out of Cambridge, north-west up the busy A604 dual carriageway, passing by Saint Ives. Over the A1 (the "Great North Road") onto the brand-new A14. After a few miles turn off north and drive a few hundred yards to Leighton Bromswold, where George Herbert was the incumbent. Then on, further north, down narrow country lanes, hardly wide enough for 2 cars to pass. Now you're out of the flat East Anglian fens and into the Huntingdonshire Wolds, where the land rises gently and is lightly wooded. A few more turnings, through Steeple Gidding, and on towards Great Gidding. Finally, a little signpost points down a single-lane track: "Little Gidding". Down this muddy road for a few hundred yards and you reach a small group of simple brick houses clustered around a large old farm house. A sign proclaims "The Community of Christ the Sower" in a circle around four ears of wheat arranged as a cross, and points to a small car park off to the left---it's just another muddy field. Out of the car the cold, damp misty December air hits you: you sniff, button up your coat and wish you'd worn wellingtons.

A footpath leads from the car park alongside the garden of the big house, and brings you to a small churchyard, tidily kept, with several tombs. A small church, with a weird 18th century facade, stands in the middle of the churchyard, a small door in the middle of the west front. Before the door stands an altar-tomb, a couple of feet high: this is the grave of Nicholas Ferrar. Inside the church it's dark, and still bitterly cold and damp. It's just a single aisle, say 30 feet long by 15 feet wide, with a small sanctuary beyond. There're no pews or seats, just 17th-century collegiate-style stalls around the west, north and south walls. Brightly-coloured 19th-century stained glass windows depict the coats of arms of Nicholas Ferrar (incorrectly), King Charles I, and the 19th-century restorer. A brass font with a battered crown stands like a standard candlestick at the north side of the sanctuary step. On the south side, a low doorway leads to the tiny vestry, about 8 feet square, with a disused fireplace, and an old cupboard, piled with dusty hymn and prayer books. Back out into the church again. At the west end is a small display of guide books, postcards, and copies of "Four Quartets" and other Eliot works. You turn round to the east and say a prayer. Then back out into the fast-fading December afternoon light and look around. You're standing on a hill looking south across the rolling countryside and bare ploughed fields. There is no sound except for a few birds calling overhead, and the occasional distant gunshot. It's hard to believe you're only 4 or 5 miles from the A1, one of the country's busiest roads. It's easy to believe that this was the peace and quiet which drew Nicholas Ferrar and his family from the busy world of London commerce to establish the only community in the Church of England in the 300 years between the dissolution of the monasteries, and the Oxford movement. It's easy to see what draws Christians of all denominations to this simple shrine, to remember the example of Nicholas Ferrar, and to live in a community at this place. You walk round to the farm house, in through the front door. In the hall is a small display of Ferrar and Gidding memorabilia, and you turn left into a decent-sized room labelled the Parlour. In the corner a lady looks up from her reading, smiles and welcomes you, "Would you like some tea? Cake?" "Yes, please." She disappears. Around the walls are more Ferrar pictures, and photographs of Little Gidding and members of the Community. It's lovely and warm and you undo your coat and look with dismay at your mud-spattered trousers. A notice tells you that the tables and chairs in the room were made by a member of the community and that you can buy similar furniture. Your host returns and you gratefully sit down to eat and drink, noting the books on the bookstall. Further conversation, then it's time to drive home in the dark, pledging to return someday, and pondering the advantages of community life.

The Feast of Nicholas Ferrar is celebrated on 1st December in the ECUSA calendar, and on 2nd December the English Alternative Service Book calendar. Nicholas Ferrar died on Monday 4th December 1637.

We moved to this area in November 1986 and first made this pilgrimage in December, not knowing quite what we would find when we got there. We've been back several times, usually at this time of the year, and hopefully we'll get there again before the year is out.

POSTSCRIPT (Decemeber 1994): The font has now been removed from the Church, where it was becoming damaged. It is to be displayed in the Parlour, and a new font made by local craftsmen. The small vestry has been restored as a small, heated, side chapel or oratory.

from Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire
beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.


Lord God, make us so worthy of your perfect love; that, with your deacon Nicholas Ferrar and his household, we may rule ourselves according to your Word, and serve you with our whole heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Let us pray now for our own needs and those of others.

Hymn: To my humble supplication

To my humble supplication
Lord, give ear and acceptation
Save thy servant, that hath none
Help nor hope but Thee alone. Amen.

For Recovery from Sickness
For Travelers
For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement
For Those to be Baptized
For the Departed
Full list of prayers

For our Country

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion us into one united people. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the President of the
United States
and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or, Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Awake, awake: fling off the night!

Awake, awake: fling off the night!
For God has sent a glorious light;
and we who live in Christ's new day
must works of darkness put away.

Let in the light; all sin expose
to Christ, whose life no darkness knows.
Before the cross expectant kneel;
That Christ may judge, and judging heal.

Awake, and rise up from the dead,
and Christ his light on you will shed.
Its power will wrong desires destroy,
and your whole nature fill with joy.

Then sing for joy, and use each day;
give thanks for everything alway.
Lift up your hearts; with one accord
praise God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Words: J.R. Peacey
Tune: Deus tuorum militum
Meter: LM

A Prayer of Self-Dedication

Almighty and eternal God,
so draw our hearts to you,
so guide our minds,
so fill our imaginations,
so control our wills,
that we may be wholly yours,
utterly dedicated unto you;
and then use us, we pray you, as you will,
and always to your glory and the welfare of your people;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Ending

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.


Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14

Hymn: God Be With You

God be with you till we meet again;
By his counsels guide, uphold you;
With his sheep securely fold you.
God be with you till we meet again.
Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus' feet,
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.


The Opening

O God, make speed to save us.

O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Psalm

Psalm 119 Lucerna pedibus meis

105Your word is a lantern to my feet *
and a light upon my path.
106I have sworn and am determined *
to keep your righteous judgments.
107I am deeply troubled; *
preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.
108Accept, O Lord, the willing tribute of my lips, *
and teach me your judgments.
109My life is always in my hand, *
yet I do not forget your law.
110The wicked have set a trap for me, *
but I have not strayed from your commandments.
111Your decrees are my inheritance for ever; *
truly, they are the joy of my heart.
112I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes *
for ever and to the end.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Reading

The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Thanks be to God.

The Prayers

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

The Lord's Prayer

or traditional

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

Lord, hear our prayer;

And let our cry come to you.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you: Regard not our sins, but the faith of your Church, and give to us the peace and unity of that heavenly City, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, now and for ever. Amen.

Let us pray now for our own needs and those of others.

For Recovery from Sickness
For Travelers
For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement
For Those to be Baptized
For the Departed
Full list of prayers

The Ending

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.