A sermon from the late Rt Revd Richard Hare

Here is a sermon that was preached at St. Alkmund’s, Derby, sometime in 1994. It was towards the end of Paul Corrie’s time, and occurred on the eve of the congregation moving to two morning services, St Alkmund’s having grown massively in the previous ten years, and the hall was no longer large enough for just one service of 500 or more people.

Richard Hare was a suffragan bishop well-known for his Charismatic tendencies. Though at this point he had been the Bishop of Pontefract for 21 years, he was heavily supportive of the Charismatic movement. He speaks here after his retirement, at the invitation of the vicar Reverend Paul Corrie.

I vividly remember the sermon being preached. Richard Hare’s beautiful spoken English, his “cut-glass accent”, and his exquisite professional timing as a public speaker, have remained with me ever since. It is fair to say that such public speaking and preaching as I have done myself, has been influenced by this one sermon – most particularly his professional timing.

At one point he recounts a poem created by a nun, in which the nun says to the Virgin Mary, thinking of her saying “yes” to the angel, as a young girl, when she replied, “it will be as you say”:

“In nine long months, in thirty-three short years, in three eternally long hours, did you never wish that yes…………………….unsaid?”

His pause between “yes” and “unsaid” was theatrical – and just exactly right.

Listen and enjoy here.

Kathryn Williams at St. Peter’s Church, Tandridge

In the evening, a short drive through light falling snow, to St. Peter’s church, in the village of Tandridge in East Surrey. Tandridge is tucked away on a slope of the North Downs that tilts away from the main road.

There’s a hidden, lost world up here, almost – a land that the 21st century forgot.

IMG_20180317_194104.jpg

Arriving at the churchyard, we’re greeted at the Lych Gate. It’s a winter wonderland. There is a dusting of late snow like icing sugar on a cake, and the ancient yew tree is decorated with fairy lights. Somewhere in the background, one of those little portable generators is grumbling away. Under a gazebo near the church door, some rather good curry is served, prepared by a local restaurant. Here, tonight, in this place, old England and modern 2lst Century England meet in agreement and in harmony.

Inside, there is beer available, and we are at liberty to sit eating our curry in these old wooden pews. Modern electronic concert lighting brings a magical atmosphere to this medieval building. The opening act is the Rector’s own band, The Effras. Encouraging, uplifting, human. Songs, as frontman Revd. Andrew Rumsey notes, about seaside towns, rural churchyards and… Sarf Landan. Here a song about couples canoodling “underneath the angel”, with a name-check for Pernod and black. Or, a song about “Some houses in Croydon”, or my personal favourite, “Penge in bloom”.

Kathryn Williams had the clearest, sweetest voice. She was engagingly nervous and human. At one point she left the stage to fetch some sweets to give to some of the children at the front. She seemed very vulnerable, revealing much of herself in her playing and her stories, such as her candid anecdote of emotional collapse in “Underground”. I was mightily blessed by her songs, her performance, her openness. She had some cool sampling and looping stuff that enabled her to double and triple her voice, and back herself on vocals, and her guitar playing was a delight.

All in all, as the Rector said the following morning, a “transformative” evening. No less than the truth.