Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Thomas Ken & local Jacobite sympathies

In some Anglican calendars, today is the commemoration of Thomas Ken, bishop and non-juror (it's strange how Anglicanism - perhaps not only Anglicanism - has a repeated tendency to recognise and value those who, in their lifetimes, it misuses and rejects)

In the isolated churchyard of the church of the Holy Cross at Kilgwrrwg, now part of this parish grouping, there is the tomb of one of the parish's benefactors, William Nicholas, inscribed on which is one of the earliest quotations from Bishop Ken's well-known morning hymn:
What follows is a quotation from an article in a local history journal by a previous parish priest, Fr John Guy:
"...Kilgwrrwg's benefactor, William Nicholas, is buried beneath an elegant and substantial table-tomb in the churchyard. On it, there are two inscriptions worthy of record. Part of his epitaph reads
Here lys a man whose Youthful time was spent In warlike Acts; in riper Years was lent His helping hand to ye distressed Poor & found his wealth thereby increased ye more.In his declinig age he alwais stoodFirm to his friends & to his countrie's goodBut now he resteth in this Sacred groundSecured here till ye last Trump shall sound.The second inscription is perhaps more interesting and significant. It is the doxology from Bishop Thomas Ken's famous 'Morning Hymn' -"Awake my Soul, and with the Sun.' The hymn was not published until 1695, though possibly written years before. This was, of course, after Ken's deprivation of his see of Bath & Wells as a 'non juror’­one who refused to take the oaths to William III and Mary II after the flight of James II in 1688. Does the appearance of this doxology on the tomb of William Nicholas, coupled with the lines 'In his declining age he alwais stood firm to his friends & to his countrie's good' perhaps indicate to us the political sympathies of this old cavalier? It is an intriguing possibility...."   [here]

This is Bishop Ken himself, writing on the subject of  the Communion of Saints 
"I believe, O King of Saints, that among the Saints on Earth, whether real or in outward profession onely, there ought to be a mutual catholick participation of all good things, which is the immediate effect of catholick Love. Thou, O God of Love restore it to thy Church.
I believe, O thou God of Love, that all the Saints on Earth by profession ought to communicate one with another, in evangelical Worship, and the same holy Sacraments, in the same Divine and Apostolical Faith, in all Offices of corporal and spiritual Charity, in reciprocal delight in each others Salvation, and in tender sympathy as members of one and the same Body: O God of Peace, restore in thy good time this catholick Communion, that with one heart and one mouth we may all praise and love thee.
O my God, amidst the deplorable divisions of thy Church, O let me never widen its breaches, but give me catholick Charity to all that are baptis'd in thy Name, and catholick Communion with all Christians in desire. O deliver me from the Sins and Errours, from the Schisms and Heresies of the Age. O give me grace to pray daily for the peace of thy Church, and earnestly to seek it, and to excite all I can to praise and to love thee.
I believe, O most holy Jesu, that thy Saints here below have communion with thy Saints above, that they pray for us, while we celebrate their memories, congratulate their bliss, give thanks for their labours of love, and imitate their examples, for which all love, all glory be to thee.
I believe, O gratious Redeemer, that thy Saints here on Earth have Communion with the holy Angels above; that they are ministring Spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of Salvation, and watch over us, and we give thanks to thee for their protection, and emulate their incessant praises and ready obedience; for which all love, all glory be to thee.
I believe, O my Lord and my God, that the Saints in this life have Communion with the three Persons of the most adorable Trinity, in the same most benign influences of love in which all three conspire; for which all love, all glory be to thee, O Father, Son and Holy Ghost, world without end.
Glory be to thee O Goodness infinitely diffusive, for all the Graces, and blessings in which the Saints communicate, for breathing thy love, as the very Soul into thy mystical Body, that all that believe in thee may love one another, and all join in loving thee."
from The Practice of Divine Love (1685)

© Copyright Jeremy Bolwell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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