So, we have got to the Friday of week 9 of lockdown, and it’s not surprising that the whole passing of time has become a feature of many conversations. David Jones from St. Benedict’s Gyffin reflects today on that very thing. Of course, 9 weeks is an infinitesimal amount of time in God’s eternal kingdom, which is always pause for thought around yesterday’s Ascension Day. There was a great quote on social media, that you may enjoy:
“Ascension Day – when Jesus started working from home”
North Transept Clock in Chester Cathedral
Peidiwch anghofio hyn, ffrindiau annwyl: I’r Arglwydd mae un diwrnod fel mil o flynyddoedd, a mil o flynyddoedd fel un diwrnod. Dydy Duw ddim yn hwyr yn gwneud beth mae wedi’i addo, fel mae rhai’n meddwl am fod yn hwyr. Bod yn amyneddgar gyda chi mae e. Does ganddo ddim eisiau i unrhyw un fynd i ddistryw. Mae e am roi cyfle i bawb newid eu ffyrdd.
2 Pedr 3: 8-9
But 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. The 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.
2 Peter 3: 8-9
David Jones writes:
I was really struck by last Thursday’s reflection, ‘Doing Time’ written by Andy Butler. It alluded accurately to the way in which as we grow older time’s arrow seems to speed up. What seemed like a forever wait for Christmas or your birthday to arrive as a child. The re-occurrence of these events now seems to be upon us in the blink of an eye. Where did last year go? A frequent response when meeting up with friends.
I have many favourite pieces of poetry. ‘Time’s Paces’ by Reverend Henry Twells (1823-1900) is a poem that I more and more get drawn to as time passes. I first became acquainted with the work over 40 years ago when I worked in Chester. Often during lunchtime, I would wander around the City Walls and find myself in the Cathedral. Sometimes there would have happily been an organ recital, choir practice or an exhibition to draw interest. It is first where I read the poem on the clock face in the North Transept (in the picture above).
The Reverend Twells was an Anglican clergyman, hymn-writer and poet. His most famous hymn, an evening hymn called ‘At Eve, Ere the Sun was Set’ appeared in Hymns Ancient and Modern 1868. But he is most famously known for this poem: ‘Time’s Paces’.
There are two versions: Twells’ original, and a later version popularised by Guy Pentreath (Headmaster of Wrekin College Shropshire), who like many visitors to Chester Cathedral, first saw the poem attached to the clock.
I hope for you, like for many, it evokes that feeling of hope in life’s transience. For me it is the powerful last line – an invocation to Jesus as Lord and Saviour – to have seen my life as worthy and to bring me safely to the greater life we will experience in passing on. It is a prayer of hope and redemption, and particularly apt perhaps, in this extraordinary season of our lives.
Twells’ Original Version in Chester Cathedral
When as a child I laughed and wept,
When as a youth I waxed more bold,
When I became a full grown man,
When older still I daily grew,
Soon I shall find, in passing on,
O Christ! Wilt Thou have saved me then? Amen.
Pentreath’s Version (used in his final sermon on retiring)
When I was a babe and wept and slept,
When I was a boy and laughed and talked,
Then when the years saw me a man,
But as I older grew,
Soon, as I journey on,
I’ll find time gone.
May Christ have saved my soul, by then. Amen.
Oleuni tragwyddol, llewyrcha i’n calonnau,
fel y ceisiom dy wyneb
â’n holl galon ac â’n holl feddwl
ac â’n holl enaid ac â’n holl nerth,
a’n dwyn gan dy drugaredd ddiderfyn
i’th wyddfod sanctaidd;
trwy Iesu Grist ein Harglwydd.
Yr Eglwys yng Nghymru
Eternal light, shine into our hearts,
that with all our heart and mind
and soul and strength
we may seek your face
and be brought by your infinite mercy
to your holy presence;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.