Sunday, 15 June 2014

Hand & Church - The many do not come here

In 'Hand & Church' (The Vineyard, April 1912) Greville MacDonald continues his description of the Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere (now St Georges Flats), that I had begun in this previous post.  The specific prayer to "teach us the use of our hands again"is very interesting.  As is the statement that "the many do not come here":

The Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

"The Sunday evening services are wonderful.  Low and sweet organ music, a liturgy partly chosen from traditional sources, a silence filled with prayer and sense of recreational forgiveness, are first fruits of the altar's message.  The dim yet star-like candle-light is enough for the glow and passion of this little church's worship-heart.  And perhaps only two or three gathered together, perhaps a score, come here to kneel and sing.  Chiefly are they who, hungry for help and healing, find no peace amidst the mechanic life of the sin-laiden cities, no inspiration from the ardour less routine of most churches.  "Make us Thy faithful people and restore us to the land, that our nation may be independent and brave.  Teach us the use of our hands again, that we may know the value and joy of vital labour, and escape the contamination of the city and its mechanical toil."  "Thy religion is the religion of the heart: give us hearts!  Thy Kingdom is a joyful wedding: give us wedding garments!  Thy gospel is the joy of a clear conscience and a soaring hope: set us free!"  "O Father, who lightest the meek, and fastest down the proud, abase us if we have been arrogant, but help us if we have been humble."  Thus do they pray.

The Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum
"The many do not come here.  Indeed, as I hear, the many condemn this Country Church as schismatic or merely temperamental and artistic.  They forget that where two or three gathered together in worship of His Name, there can be no schism, for Jesus is in their midst.  They cannot believe that some may find the Bread and the Wine, just because of their hunger and lowness of heart, as by the side of a rude manger, so in this glowing little barn.  In this humble Church is no schism, no setting up of a denomination, no comparing of one dogma with another.  Here is preached Christ crucified, Christ risen: love, repentance, forgiveness, gifts, tears, and joy.  Schism is professional - always.

"As the Holy Ghost bade the craftsmen of old make their common things of beauty and worship; as He bade Giotto build his Campanile for bell-ringing, Bach roll out his Passion Music in prophecy, Blake glorify Death's Door; so God, in mercy to his loving and erring people, has ordered the increase of this little Country Church.  Like all things of love, it is come out of the Everlasting."

Godfrey Blount design detail
from The Vineyard, April 1912

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