Bishop of Hereford
Anyone driving around the Counties of Hereford and Shropshire over the last couple of months cannot have failed to see in many different locations the black silhouettes of a lone soldier arrayed in the kit and uniform of the first world war infantry man commonly known as the Tommy. They are there because this year marks the centenary year ending the hostilities of the First World War. The words ‘Lest we forget’ have this stark visual reminder in addition to the more familiar poppy.
It is important to remember that the ending of that war was an Armistice. No one knows for sure of how many casualties there were but estimates of around sixteen million are regularly quoted. There were no winners or losers in the sense of the victorious and the vanquished. It was a mutual agreement to stop fighting and so on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month hostilities ceased.
For much of the twentieth century ‘Lest we forget’ had an obvious meaning in that for many the annual Remembrance Day had a personal link as it provided a way in which individuals could share publicly as the nation expressed its grief corporately. Certainly, after the first war the level of grief and family loss was extensive. Hardly a family in the land were untouched by loss. The Second World War was similar. Of course, we must not underestimate the way that grief still affects those who have lost loved ones in more recent conflicts or diminish the sacrifice they made.
However, as we enter the second decade of the twenty first century what does ‘Lest we forget’ mean now? George Santayana (1863-1952) wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” War may be unavoidable at times but it is always a failure. The lessons of war are surely to work for peace, justice and reconciliation and do all in our power to prevent it. As human beings we are capable of achieving great heights and sinking to abominable depths. Aggression and conflict remain realities. In our digital and cyber age it comes in many and various guises. It is a matter of history that narrow nationalism did not help the inexorable slide into the conflict a century ago. The right to self-determination should never be conflated with narrow self-interest. The pursuit of trust, truth and cooperation are as important now as ever. ‘Lest we forget’ surely needs to focus here as we look to the future.
Dean of Hereford
The ceremony of the Boy Bishop
Have you ever attend this traditional ceremony at our cathedral? It’s a medieval custom with much relevance today.
The tradition stems from a wish to model
the humility of Christ in those who hold
high office. By this, the cathedral choristers would elect one of their number to act as ‘Boy Bishop’ He would hold office from the Feast of St Nicholas (6 December) until Holy Innocents Day (28 December) and would undertake certain duties usually reserved to the bishop himself, thus reminding the bishop that he, like all, need to ‘become like children in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven’.
The tradition lapsed for centuries but was revived at Hereford in 1982. This year, it takes place on Sunday 9 December at 3.30pm, during Evensong and all are welcome.
What will happen?
The Boy Bishop, now appointed by the Precentor and Director of Music (and generally a ‘retired’ chorister’) will enter at the beginning of the service, accompanied by the other choristers and two attendants. He is dressed in full episcopal attire – with mitre, cope and ring. He is greeted by Bishop Richard, affirmed in his office and given the bishop’s crozier, or pastoral staff, to hold for much of the service. Then, accompanied by his attendants, he approaches the altar, and during the singing of the Magnificat, at the words ‘He hath put down the mighty from their seat’, he ascends the Bishop’s Throne in the Quire of the Cathedral, while Bishop Richard, himself, will remain on the lower level! From the Bishop’s Throne, the Boy Bishop blesses the congregation.
Later, he comes to King Stephen’s chair at the Nave altar and there delivers a sermon, which he will have composed himself. All the sermons of past Boy Bishops (and I have heard 16 now!) have been excellent and each focuses on a particular aspect of the Christian faith, cathedral music and life. As you can imagine, it can be quite a challenge for a 12/13 year old to compose and deliver a sermon in front of his parents, relatives, friends and peers, not to mention the bishop and dean…!
At the conclusion of the sermon, the Boy Bishop returns the crozier, or pastoral staff
to Bishop Richard and assists the bishop in final prayers. He is then given a traditional offering (now a few Queen Victoria pennies!), representing the costs of his period of office and the costs of candles to be burned during the same period. The Boy Bishop officiates several times during the season of Advent – at the Cathedral School carol service and at the two cathedral carol services.
Is it an outmoded custom? I think not! It says such important things about the vital role children can play in teaching we adults about what is important in life, about the real need to humility in leaders.
And, mark my words, one day there will, rightly, be a ‘Girl Bishop’ and we look forward to that extension of the tradition in time!
So, do join us, and experience this special part of Hereford’s observance of Advent.
Sunday 9 December. 3.30pm. All welcome. No tickets required.
Everyone is welcome to join any of the acts of worship that take place at the cathedral. Services are normally held at the following times:
Monday – Saturday
7.30am – Morning Prayer 8am – Holy Communion 5.30pm – Evensong(Evensong is normally sung by the cathedral choir every day during term time except Wednesdays)
8am – Holy Communion 10am – Cathedral Eucharist 11.30am – Matins
3.30pm – Evensong
Wednesday 12.15pm – Holy Communion
Wednesday 1.05pm – Prayers for Peace
Friday 12noon – Prayers at the Shrine of St Ethelbert
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Saturday 1 December, 1.15pm
Christmas Sparkle Concert
Sunday 2 December, 3.30pm
Advent Sunday Carol Service
Tuesday 4 December, 6.30pm
A Service for Advent in London
Wednesday 5 December, 7.30 pm
Ex Cathedra – Christmas Music by Candlelight
Friday 7 December, 7pm
The Hereford Map (c. 1300): The World’s Place Between Human Vision and Divine Providence with Marcia Kupfer
Saturday 8 December, 7.30pm
Hereford Choral Society Concert: Handel’s Messiah
Tuesday 11 December, 7pm
Norwegian Experience – the Chancellor’s Sabbatical with Revd Canon Chris Pullin
Friday 14 – Monday 31 December
Crafting the Cathedral, HCA Art Exhibition
Saturday 15 December
Hereford Cathedral Christmas Fair, 9.30 am – 4 pm
Carols for Shoppers, 1 pm
Sunday 16 December, 5pm
St Michael’s Hospice ‘Light Up A Life’ Service
Thursday 20 December, 7pm
Army Benevolent Fund Carol Service
Saturday 22 December, 10 am – 12.30pm
Crypt Club Christmas Workshop
Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 December, 7pm
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
Monday 24 December, 3 pm
Christingle Nativity Service
Monday 24 December, 5.30pm
Tuesday 25 December
Christmas Day Worship
Friday 28 Dec, 3.30pm
Holy Innocents’ Day
Climb the 218 steps to the top of the cathedral tower to see stunning views of Hereford and the surrounding countryside. Tours usually take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 11.30 am and 1.30 pm, tickets £5 for adults, £3 students and children 8-16 (not recommended for younger children) from the Cathedral Shop 01432 374210 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
‘Cathedral Calling‘ is the online news magazine about church life in the diocese and the cathedral in particular.
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Do you know of a boy, aged 6–8 years of age, who might be interested in joining
the internationally-renowned Hereford Cathedral Choir? As well as singing in the cathedral, the choir regularly tours abroad, broadcasts on TV & radio, annual perform in London (Guards’ Chapel) and takes part in the world-famous Three Choirs Festival.
It may be your son, or equally it may be a grandson, nephew or the son of friends – sometimes a gentle nudge of the parents might be needed! If a parent or guardian would like an informal discussion about the opportunities, Geraint Bowen, the
director of music, would be delighted to hear from you (01432 374238, organist@ herefordcathedral.org or visit www. herefordcathedral.org). All choristers receive generous scholarships to the cathedral school and, in some cases, fully-funded places can be made available.