Heal Racism / Embrace Diversity

Last December the Diocesan Synod has discussed a paper on racial justice called “Breathing Life”, one of the authors being our former chaplain, Fr. Leslie Nathaniel. In preparation to the discussion an interview with the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) / People of Colour advisers to Bishop Robert in our diocese was published: The Revd Augustine Nwaekwe, Chaplain in Ostend-Bruges & Knokke, and The Revd Smitha Prasadam, Chaplain at St Alban’s, Copenhagen. You can find the interview here.

Since August 2020 members of our community in Hamburg have met to share and discuss their experiences, with a strong focus to “heal racism and embrace diversity”. In December we have started to educate ourselves by watching a series called “Conversations on Race” offered by King’s Cross Church (KXC) in London. If you’d like to jump on board please reach out to Valerie Müller, Madeleine Herring, Monica Emilia or Yotin Tiewtrakul.

Virtual Choir Carols

Please enjoy these offerings from three of our singing groups in our parish.

Sacred Harp Singers of Hamburg – Truth from Above
Anglican Choir Hamburg – O little town of Bethlehem
Anglican Consort Hamburg – King Jesus hath a garden

The first of these offerings is an alternative version of the English folk carol “Truth from Above”. I made an arrangement in the style of the Sacred Harp singing tradition. Only two verses are presented here and in carol services also only a selection of verses are performed. So it is worth reading through all the eleven verses here: This is the truth sent from above (lyrics).

For these sound files singers had to make a recording of their part at home. They were afterwards edited and put together. Thanks to everyone from the Anglican Choir who contributed with their part of the classic “O little town of Bethlehem”.

Thank you also to the members of the Anglican Consort who perform this lovely carol where a truly extensive list of flowers are presented.

#stayconnected: Chioma sings

Sometimes people who lead us in the intercessions on Sunday mornings (do you remember?) share a song. So I asked Chioma to simply send me some songs just as a voice message to my phone. These are two songs from her collection:

Thank you, Chioma, for sharing with us not only on Sunday mornings but also during these times!

The words are:

Thanks, thanks
we give you thanks for all you have done
In our lives we are so blessed
Our souls have found rest
O Lord, we give you thanks

Lord, you are more precious than silver
Lord, you are more costly than gold
Lord, you are more beautiful than diamonds
There’s nothing we desire compared with you

You are the Lord / Let your name be glorified (2x)
We give you glory and honour
You are the Lord / Let your name be glorified

We give you all the glory
We worship you, our God
You are worthy to be praised

#stayconnected: A short opening song for humming and with gestures

When the choir started meeting online to say Evening Prayer we figured very quickly that singing via Zoom is not very satisfying. So I asked Pastorin Anne Smets, a good friend of the choir, to lead us in a simple prayer with hand gestures. And so we have been starting our online Evening Prayer with this simple prayer ever since:

“Opening my ears / I listen with my heart / waiting for God”

This morning when updating the page about our online resources I removed (for copyright reasons) the Taizé songs which I recorded for Holy Week. And so I was left with the question what else to put there instead.

You see, it’s the simple things which are very likely to stick. And so of course our little “opening prayer” came up, and very quickly a simple melody:

I hope you all learn it so that you can hum along and pray with your hands when we gather again in the church!

Yotin Tiewtrakul, Choirmaster

#stayconnected: Do you have a favourite spot for praying?

We were told already when we were kids: You can pray anywhere. And at the same time people have their favourite spot and also their favourite time to spend some moments in prayer. 

When I had a phase where the Daily Office was very important to me I had of course a corner in my bedroom with a candle and an icon. That was my spot for Morning and Evening Prayer. Setting apart a time and a place helped me stay in a healthy rhythm. Now I am rather unstructured. I have suggested reading (or praying or singing) through the psalms. And honestly these days I would just read them lying in bed before sleep. That’s my time and place. And that’s it at the moment. 

What about you? Do you have a favourite spot for prayer? Is it at your kitchen table? Is it somewhere in a park? Or do you have a little corner for a candle, or a cross, an icon or some other symbols? Easiest way would be to send in a picture. We’d collect and share them next week!

Yotin Tiewtrakul, Choirmaster

#stayconnected: Read (say, sing) through the psalms in a month

An invitation by our choirmaster Yotin Tiewtrakul to join our Zoom Evening Prayer (every Saturday at 7pm), and a suggestion to read (or say or sing!) through the Psalms from 1 to 150 in a month:

Psalms in a month according to the Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer divides the psalms into sections for the thirty days of the month. So for example for Day 1 the appointed psalms are Psalms 1-5 for Morning Prayer and Psalms 6-8 for Evening Prayer.

  • Day 1: Psalms 1-5 / Psalms 6-8
  • Day 2: Psalms 9-11 / Psalms 12-14
  • Day 3: Psalms 15-17 / Psalm 18
  • Day 4: Psalms 19-21 / Psalms 22-23
  • Day 5: Psalms 24-26 / Psalms 27-29
  • Day 6: Psalms 30-31 / Psalms 32-34
  • Day 7: Psalms 35-36 / Psalm 37
  • Day 8: Psalms 38-40 / Psalms 41-43
  • Day 9: Psalms 44-46 / Psalms 47-49
  • Day 10: Psalms 50-52 / Psalms 53-55
  • Day 11: Psalms 56-58 / Psalms 59-61
  • Day 12: Psalms 62-64 / Psalms 65-67
  • Day 13: Psalm 68 / Psalms 69-70
  • Day 14: Psalms 71-72 / Psalms 73-74 
  • Day 15: Psalms 75-77 / Psalm 78
  • Day 16: Psalms 79-81 / Psalms 82-85 
  • Day 17: Psalms 86-88 / Psalm 89
  • Day 18: Psalms 90-92 / Psalms 93-94 
  • Day 19: Psalms 95-97 / Psalms 98-101
  • Day 20: Psalms 102-103 / Psalm 104
  • Day 21: Psalm 105 / Psalm 106
  • Day 22: Psalm 107 / Psalms 108-109
  • Day 23: Psalms 110-113 / Psalms 114-115
  • Day 24: Psalms 116-118 / Psalm 119 (verses 1-32)
  • Day 25: Psalm 119 (verses 33-72) / Psalm 119 (verses 73-104)
  • Day 26: Psalm 119 (verses 105-144) / Psalm 119 (verses 145-176)
  • Day 27: Psalms 120-125 / Psalms 126-131
  • Day 28: Psalms 132-135 / Psalms 136-138
  • Day 29: Psalms 139-141 / Psalms 142-143
  • Day 30: Psalms 144-146 / Psalms 147-150

Maybe you’d like to just jump in and follow this ancient practice? If you just pick one time during the day to read (or say or sing) the appointed psalms you can of course do Psalms 1-8 on the first day etc. What to do when a month has 31 days? How about reciting one or two of your favourites? Those which really spoke to you?

#stayconnected: Pray with your hands with Pastorin Anne Smets

“Opening my ears / I listen with my heat / waiting for God”

You know by now that the choir is meeting Saturdays 7pm on Zoom to say Evening Prayer (everyone’s welcome!). We figured in the first sessions that it’s rather difficult to sing together. So I asked Pastorin Anne Smets, who is a good friend of the choir and also a member of the Anglican Consort, to teach us a “Gebärdengebet”, a prayer with your hands. We have been starting our evening prayers with this simple prayer ever since. And at the Dawn Service on Easter Sunday morning we had it after the readings of the vigil instead of the responsorial psalms. Maybe it can also become a simple prayer for you when you wake up or in the moments before you’re about to call loved ones?—Yotin Tiewtrakul, Choirmaster

#stayconnected: An Easter poem by John William Holway

John William Holway reached out to us to share a poem he wrote:


Come shout all you people, of every nation and creed.
For HE is risen, HE is risen indeed!
The tomb is empty the stone was rolled away.
This is the miracle of Easter Day.
Our Saviour came for us to save.
HE has conquered death and defeated the grave.
And BY his death He has made us new.
With God there is nothing that you cannot do.

For when we die to our selves and give our lives to HIM.
A brand new life we can begin.
HE will guide us and keep us every step of the day.
We need just to stop, to ask HIM and pray.

Our Father in Heaven has INDEED set us free,
this is the miracle of Easter you see.

GOD says Heed my words, store them in your heart.
Come back to me and make a new start.
Stand up from your misery. Die to sin.
A whole new life with ME begin.
Let me open your eyes, you’ve dwelled too long in the dark.
Feel the JOY of MY presence, a bright divine spark.

At the end of the tunnel. There is indeed a bright light.
At the end of darkness I will overcome the night.
Let me fill your body, Let me restore your soul.
The power of my love will make you WHOLE.

Are you tired and weary? Come away with me.
Together we will change your history.
The blood of my Son wipes away your loss.
That’s why He came and died on the cross.

The door is open. Come back to me.
That is the mystery of Easter you see.

Once you were lost, down and forlorn,
but now you’ve come home. You have been reborn.
My child I love you. I am so proud of you.
I am always with you, whatever you do.

Just a prayer away, call often my name.
When you walk with me you are never the same.

Walk in the Spirit. Walk in my Love.
I am God. I am here. Not far above.
Every day is brand new. Each day with me you can start.
Let me into your life. Let me fill your heart.

Come shout all you people of every creed.
Friends HE is risen, HE is risen indeed.


Easter Candle and Easter Hymn

This morning the Easter Candle was also lit in a short Dawn Service in the church with some parishioners getting together via Zoom while our choirmaster joined from the church.

If you’d like to sing along or listen to some Easter hymns here’s “Jesus Christ is risen today”. Stephen Brown director of music at St Catherine’s in Stuttgart put together a “virtual choir” in which our choirmaster was also able to join.

#stayconnected: A message from Judith, a long standing member of our parish

We received a message last week when we asked how everyone is staying in touch with others. Judith writes:

Telephoning and being able to hear people’s voices feels so very important now. I’m phoning family and friends far and wide, as I expect most of us are doing.  Am in touch with the “card-making” team and other church friends, and nearly every day with R. – she had her 100th last week and had a letter from the Bundespresident.  I’ve also been able to speak to J. several times and yesterday with H. too. 

We were asked about suggestions for staying connected, also spiritually – one of my far away calls last Saturday was to N., an American friend in New Jersey on her birthday.  P. may remember her and her husband F. – they were very regular members of the St Thomas Becket congregation before they went back to the States in 1987.  I mentioned to her that I hadn’t been able to find an actual Diocesan service – though I’d heard and seen Bishop Robert’s video message.  Anyway she guided me to the Canterbury Cathedral website, with morning and evening prayers via YouTube mostly said by the Dean of Canterbury in his garden.  We all have different needs but this very much resonates with me – and there’s the cathedral in the background with spring blossom, magnolia, birds singing and so far blue skies. I also sometimes listen to the BBC Radio 4 Sunday morning service – ca. 10.15 German time – or on catchup I-Player – and last Sunday the sermon was about Oscar Romero, (24th March being the anniversary of his death} and connecting his life and martyrdom with  St. Thomas a Becket and his 850th anniversary this year, with services and events planned in Canterbury Cathedral.  And my other recommendation is BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day for about 3 minutes either on Catchup, or live sometime between 8.45 and 8.50 German time

With love and very best wishes to you all, and keep safe and well,