Weekly Email – Baptism of the Lord
As we enter January, I would like to draw your attention to the parish trip to see the new Albrecht Dürer exhibition at the National Gallery on Friday 14th January. We still have around 15 tickets left so there is plenty of room for extra people to sign up. After viewing the exhibition there will be the opportunity to have dinner together at Le Beaujolais restaurant in Litchfield Street.
I am so pleased that our parish group will be given a talk before seeing the exhibition by Dr Susan Foister, Deputy Director of the Gallery, and curator of the exhibition, at 5.15pm. This is a real honour and we are very grateful to Dr Foister for agreeing to speak to us. I would particularly like to thank Judith Mather, a parishioner of All Saints who works at the National Gallery, for all she has done to organise and facilitate this visit.
The exhibition itself is a really wonderful introduction to the life of a fascinating artist whom I now realise I knew little about until I went on a preliminary visit to the exhibition this week. There is much we can learn from in his life and work, and much to reflect upon from a theological point of view.
Dürer is probably one of the first artists to see the value and potential in woodcut prints and etchings as the new technology of the printing press took Europe by storm in the fifteenth and sixteenth Centuries.
His woodcut prints could be mass produced and disseminated across the continent in a way that was not possible for previous generations of artists. Impressive levels of precision and skill were also made possible with the new technology of etching on metal, which produced works of extraordinary beauty. This enabled images that looked like ink sketches to be printed and sold more widely.
I was intrigued to discover that Dürer is also one of the first European artists to master and propagate the use of water colours. Many of his extraordinary water colour sketches in the exhibition appear to be centuries younger and substantially more modern than they really are.
This exhibition seeks to look at Dürer “geographically”. It shows how, through a series of four journeys across Europe during his life, he was influenced by others but also, in return, shaped the art of Europe himself as he made his way to Strasbourg, twice south to Venice, and then north to Antwerp.
The National Gallery presents us with a wonderful vision of the network of artistic and commercial links that connected late Medieval and Renaissance Europe. It challenges our view of pre-modern life as static, slow, and insular; it reveals an exciting vista of theological connectedness across countries, artistic communication between painters and patrons, and commercial ties extending across the continent. It was an age of intellectual curiosity in which expansive minds yearned to learn more beyond the horizons of their immediate geographical location.
What is there to learn theologically from this exhibition?
Firstly, nobody can see this exhibition and fail to be moved by the wide range of religious imagery Dürer presents us with. One of the characteristics of small etchings and close ink sketches is their capacity to draw you into a key moment in the life of Christ or a saint – the expression on a face, the detailed arrangement of individuals, the position of a hand, or limb that reveal an intense moment of pathos.
Dürer also produced a wide range of paintings, and it is a delight to be able to see these perhaps less well-known images – his Madonna and Child (on loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington), The Madonna with the Iris, the copy of the Our Lady of the Rosary, and the final image of St Jerome were highlights for me.
On a historical level, one of the undercurrents of this exhibition is the first inklings of the Lutheran Reformation, which begins to emerge in the last decade of Dürer’s life.
It is intriguing that some of the later religious images Dürer creates become simpler, more direct, and more focussed on key salvific moments in the life of Jesus such as his crucifixion, as Luther’s ideas spread. A shift can be seen away from earlier images of the Passion emphasising the confused emotion of all those involved, and the distress and pain suffered by Christ, to later ones influenced by Lutheran piety focussed on the calm acceptance of faith, and a more ordered, retrained presentation of the events of the Passion.
Evidence exists in one document on display of the list of pamphlets by Luther which Dürer may have possessed or read. One of the most fascinating things this exhibition presents us with is a snapshot of a key moment of radical change in the interaction between artistic and theological discourse in European history at the first beginnings of the European Reformation.
Another theological idea which came back time and time again to my mind through this exhibition is the Christian notion of pilgrimage. I wonder whether it makes better sense to describe Dürer’s journeys as in some sense “pilgrimage”. They have all the characteristics of pilgrimage – they are journeys of discovery and revelation; they introduce him to new people on the route; indeed final locations such as Venice and Antwerp could be conceived in artistic terms as “holy Cities” in the Renaissance period, full of amazing painters and famous images.
For Christians, pilgrimage is both something we do as part of the regular round of Christian piety, but it is also a metaphor for the whole of life, in which we make our way in the company of other Christians to the City of God. The power of Durer’s artistic journeys to prompt discovery and exploration, self-knowledge and maturity chimes very closely with the culture of pilgrimage which would have been a fundamental part of the Renaissance imagination. There is much to reflect on in terms of our own lives as journey and pilgrimage which I found very helpful.
I heartily commend this exhibition to you as a wonderful opportunity to learn more about a figure possibly not as well known in England as he could be, and as an opportunity to reflect on the mysteries of our Christian faith as expressed and portrayed by others.
The exhibition tickets cost £20. A three-course dinner at Le Beaujolais will be £37 (without wine – each person will be able to pay for their own wine on the night), so if you wish to stay on for dinner, the total is £57. If you are a member of the National Gallery, the cost is £37 – please send your membership number to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can include you in the group.
To buy your ticket, visit this page and select one of the three price options. If you are unable to make a payment electronically by card, the parish office will be able to receive a cheque.
Do join us if you are able. I particularly look forward to the dinner we have organised at Le Beaujolais restaurant after the visit!
Forthcoming Preachers 2022
Wednesday 2nd February 2022 – 6.00 pm
Preacher: The Revd Dr Canon Jeremy Haselock.
Sunday 27th February 2022 – 11.00 am
Sunday Next Before Lent
Preacher: The Revd Marjorie Brown, Vicar of St Mary’s, Primrose Hill.
Sunday 6th March 2022 – 11.00 am
First Sunday of Lent
Celebrant and Preacher: The Bishop of Fulham.
Sunday 27th March 2022 – 11.00 am
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Preacher: The Revd Tom Sander, Vicar of St Giles-in-the-Fields
Sunday 3rd April 2022 – 11.00 am
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Preacher: Dr Sister Gemma Simmonds, CJ, Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge.
Sunday 10th April – Sunday 17th April 2022
Preacher: The Most Revd & Rt Hon Rowan Williams
Sunday 14th August 2022 – 6.30 pm
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Preacher: The Revd Graeme Rowlands, Vicar of St Silas’, Kentish Town.
Craig Williams RIP
There will be a Requiem Mass for Craig on Saturday 15th January at Noon. All are welcome to attend. The Requiem will also be streamed – links for this will be provided in next Friday’s email.
Walsingham Devotion & Monthly Requiem
Tomorrow our monthly Walsingham Devotion, in the form of the Rosary with intercessions, will be offered at 1130 before the noon Mass.
A week tomorrow our monthly Requiem Mass will be celebrated: please let Fr Michael have names of those you’d like remembered at that Mass.
Links for Sunday
The link for the Propers for the Baptism of the Lord is at the end of this email. And click here for the YouTube live stream for High Mass.
The Epiphany Carol Service and Benediction is at 6pm on Sunday. The order of service is at the end of this email. And click here for the You Tube live stream for the Epiphany Carol Service.
Prisoners and captives
Nazanin Zhagari-Ratcliffe, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, Nasrin Sotoudeh
Rohingya Christians in Pakistan, Karen Christians in Burma, and Tigrayan Christians in Ethiopia
Fr Harry Hodgetts, Martin Berka, Elizabeth Lyon, James Shrimpton, Fr Andrew, Juliet Windham, Corrado Monte, Tony Rodger, Steven Collingwood
Those known to us recently departed
Arjan Melwani, Michael McParland, Desmond Tutu Bp, Geoff Vardy, Sue Yesnick, Rosemary Harris, Dason Dottin, Sandra Pilisdorf
Anniversaries of death
9th – Sylvia Scott
10th – Vera Freeth, Hermia Mills, Ann Ind, Jack Finnie, Katherine Humphries, Michael Fleming, Anthea Candlin, Richard Candlin, Frank Hawkins Pr
11th – Eric Bailey Pr, Sophia Wickenden, Beryl Peryer
12th – Charles Backus
13th – Dorothea Graham, Vivian Curson, George Currie
14th – Alfred Stephens, Ethel Hewelson, Hugh Shepheard, Lyn Jones, Mavis Mercer
15th – John Spencer
Supporting All Saints
Parish Giving Scheme
You can set up a regular donation to All Saints here.
We use the Parish Giving Scheme, which allows contributions to be anonymous and deals with Gift Aid, saving our office a lot of time. You can read about how the scheme works here.
Donations for general church purposes
To give by BACS please use the following details, advising the Administrator to collect Gift Aid:
PCC All Saints (Charity no. 1132895)
Sort Code 60-09-15
Parish Legacy Policy
We are always delighted to hear from anyone who wants to support us with a donation. Our PCC Legacy Policy encourages people to leave bequests specifically to one of our two related charities to be used for purposes of lasting value (rather than day to day costs):
All Saints Choir & Music Trust (Charity # 802994)
or The All Saints Foundation (Charity # 273390).