Weekly Email – The Naming and Circumcision of Jesus | All Saints Margaret Street All Saints Margaret Street | Weekly Email – The Naming and Circumcision of Jesus

Weekly Email – The Naming and Circumcision of Jesus

Friday 30 December 2022 at 13:30


Dear friends,

As I look back on our keeping of Christmas, I am filled with such a strong sense of gratitude for all God has done among us as we have kept the feast of the Nativity. I want to express a deep sense of thanks to all our parishioners who have helped make it such a wonderful period of celebration, welcome, and festivity.

I would like to say a particular word of thanks to those who have helped organise refreshments and welcome at the various carol services we have offered over the festive season. By my calculation, we have celebrated no fewer than 8 Carol Services at All Saints’. A total of 1,606 people have attended a carol service at All Saints’ in the run up to Christmas, and we have served hundreds of mince pies and gallons of mulled wine! It has been a huge task to welcome all these visitors and I am very grateful to those who have organised festive refreshments for them, especially Janet Drake, Kate Hodgetts and Chris Self.

We should also not forget our invaluable parish office administrator, Jonathan Pease. He has created dozens of services sheets, organised endless Christmas advertising, and masterminded the logistics behind so many of our events and liturgies this year. We would be lost without him and offer him our profound gratitude.

In a similar vein, I would like to thank Huw Pryce for all he has done to ensure the live-streaming of our services. Without his know-how we wouldn’t be able to connect with so many friends and followers who are unable to attend our worship in person. Many thanks, Huw – you are the crucial backbone of one of our parish’s most important and expanding ministries!

At the heart of our liturgical life lies our wonderful serving team and I would like to thank them on everyone’s behalf for all the time, effort and attention they have devoted to the liturgy this Christmas. I am very aware that diaries are particularly complicated at Christmas, and yet so many of our servers turned out to serve a great array of carol services and Masses. We are grateful to Cedric Stephens and to the whole serving team for all they have accomplished over Christmas and for the spirit of prayer and devotion they bring to the task.

A huge expression of thanks should go to our Director of Music, music staff and choir. The choir has sung at numerous liturgies over the Christmas period and have produced music of exemplary quality. A very large number of people indeed have spoken to me already about how impressive they have found our musical tradition, and how much the choir’s efforts have helped them to enter into the mystery of the Incarnation which we celebrate at Christmas. I want to thank particularly Stevie Farr, our Director of Music, for all he has done to organise our Christmas music. It is a huge task and he is such a blessing to our parish.

I might add that one of the great joys of living in the vicarage is that I can hear when the organ is being played through the wall.  I can tell you that Jeremiah Stephenson, our Associate Director of Music, and Hamish Wagstaff, our Organ Scholar, have put in HOURS of work over the past few weeks rehearsing for each and every liturgy they have played at. We are so lucky to have them with us as part of the music making in our parish.

We are so blessed at All Saints’ with our clergy team and also with the group of priests who have been helping us with Mass cover over the past few months whilst we are without an assistant priest. I particularly want to thank Fr Julian for his unfailing help through these months. We are so lucky to have him on our clergy staff and are grateful to him for all he contributes to our parish’s life. I also want to thank Fr Barry Orford for helping us over Christmas and for preaching at the Midnight Mass whilst Fr Julian has been away at a wedding in India.

The Christmas culture in which we live is one in which Christmas seems over the moment Boxing Day is finished and the last bits of cold turkey are eaten! Do not forget that we continue to celebrate the Birth of the Lord with a High Mass for the feast of the Epiphany next Friday at 6.30 pm, and with our Epiphany Carol Service & Benediction on the evening of Sunday 8th at 6.00 pm. Both these liturgies will be live-streamed.

Our guest preacher at the High Mass on Friday 6th January will be Fr James Hill, Vicar of St Benet Fink, Tottenham. The music will include Mozart’s Missa Brevis in F and Crotch’s Lo! star-led chiefs

Music at the Epiphany Carol Service will include: Palestrina, Surge, illuminare (pt. 1); Handl, Omnes de Saba; Phillip Moore, Benedictus; Bingham, And lo, the star; Elgar, Light of the world; and Poulenc, Videntes stellam. The Tantum Ergo at Benediction will be the setting by Vierne.

Keep your Christmas trees up and your cribs out for a little longer, and let us continue to give thanks for the Word made flesh, and celebrate his glory manifested amongst us this Epiphanytide.

Fr Peter



Visiting Preachers 2023

I am pleased to be able to publish our list of guest preachers for the next few months. It has always been a tradition at All Saints’ to invite a range of different preachers to give the homily at the High Mass. I always find it useful to hear the prospectives of visiting clergy and those outside our immediate parish circle. I hope the preachers I have invited prove to be interesting and informative as they open God’s word for us in the liturgy, and help us to understand and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fr Peter

Friday 6th January 2023 – Feast of the Epiphany
High Mass | 6.30 pm
The Revd James Hill,
Vicar, St Benet Fink, Tottenham.

Sunday 29th January 2023 – 4th Sunday after Epiphany
High Mass | 11.00 am
The Revd Canon Dr Robin Ward,
Principal, St Stephen’s House, Oxford.

Thursday 2nd February 2023 – Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Blessing of candles, procession and High Mass | 6.30 pm
The Revd Matthew Duckett,
Priest-in-Charge, St Matthias’, Colindale.

Sunday 12th March 2023 – Third Sunday of Lent
High Mass | 11.00 am
The Revd Barry Orford

Saturday 25th March 2023 – Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord
High Mass | 12 noon
The Revd Christopher Trundle,
Vicar, Our Most Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell, and Chair of the House of Clergy, Diocese of London.

Holy Week Preacher 2023: The Bishop of Fulham.
Sunday 2nd April – Sunday 9th April 2023

Thursday 18th May 2023 – Ascension Day
High Mass | 6.30 pm
The Revd Steven Brookes,
Chaplain, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, and Deputy Priest in Ordinary to His Majesty the King.

Thursday 8th June 2023 – Corpus Christi
High Mass, Procession and Benediction | 6.30 pm
The Revd Philip Warner,
Rector, St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge.

Sunday 13th August 2023 – Assumptiontide Procession 
Evensong, Procession of Our Lady and Benediction | 6.00 pm
The Rt Revd Glyn Webster.

Sunday 10th September 2023 – 14th Sunday after Trinity
High Mass | 11.00 am
The Revd Dr Michael Bowie,
Vicar, St Peter’s, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, Australia.

Sunday 1st October 2023 – 17th Sunday after Trinity
High Mass | 11.00 am
The Revd Katy Hacker Hughes,
Priest Pastor, St Marylebone Parish Church.

Wednesday 1st November 2023 – All Saints’ Day
High Mass | 6.30 pm
The Revd Richard Bastable,
Vicar, St Luke’s Uxbridge Road, and St Matthew’s, Kensington Olympia.

Thursday 2nd November 2023 – All Souls’ Day
High Mass | 6.30 pm
The Revd Barry Orford.


Fr Julian is currently in Aizawl, Mizoram, North East India, for a wedding with 800 guests. He wishes all parishioners and friends of All Saints’ a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year and sends warmest greetings all the way from India!


Christmas attendance figures

Our Christmas attendance figures have just been calculated and I am sure you will be as reassured as I have been to see a picture that looks like a good bounce back from the COVID years to something that looks and feels, in many ways, like the kind of Christmas attendance we had up to 2019.

I think it’s important to remember in our thinking that our patterns of attendance will quite simply never return to be identical with what we had just before COVID. A changed and different world has emerged from that experience which means things will never be quite the same again. However, certain points of similarity and continuity can be seen, which make some degree of comparison possible.

To cut a very long story short, if one looks at our total attendance across the main liturgies of Christmas night and day, including online worshippers who join us live, we are significantly ahead of the attendance figures we had in the last pre-COVID Christmas. If one doesn’t include online worshippers, then in person attendance is a little under what it was in 2019, but shows a healthy return to the kind of figures we haven’t seen for three years.

If one takes the Midnight Mass, for example, in person and live online attendance combined was 182 this year (107 in person and 75 online live), compared with 153 in 2021, 122 in 2020, and 110 in person in 2019.

The Mass of Christmas morning had a total attendance of 157 (87 in person and 70 online live); this compares with 117 in 2021, 152 in 2020, and 100 in person in 2019.

The most significant increase and change is in the area of carol services. We have had substantially higher attendance this year at carol services with a larger number of liturgies than we ever had before 2019.

Two of these carol services were parish affairs and were live-streamed (our Advent Carol Service and our Service of 9 Lessons and Carols). In addition, however, 6 other carol services took place (which were not live-streamed), two of which were for institutions which had never visited us before: Magdalene College, Cambridge; Rugby School; Bishop’s Diocesan College, Cape Town; Merton College, Oxford; Magdalen College, Oxford; and Freud’s Communications.

This produced a total Carol Service attendance this year of 1,606. This compares with a total of 686 in 2021, (no carol services at all in 2020 because of COVID) and 1010 in 2019.

I think we can take much encouragement in these figures and a sense of appropriate pride that the effort and hard work shown by so many is being blessed by God and used by him to draw more people to celebrate the Mystery of the Incarnation with us.

Fr Peter


We are so grateful to Genevieve Gomi, who presented a gold maniple to All Saints’ on Christmas Day after the Solemn Mass. One of our newer parish gold Low Mass sets was made a couple of years ago, but without a maniple. Fr Peter discovered a small sample scrap of the cloth of gold several weeks ago in the sacristy and Genevieve has skillfully run it up into a perfectly matching maniple to complete the gold Low Mass set. How lucky we are to have such talented and generous parishioners and friends.


Next Zoom Theology Seminar

Our next Zoom Theology seminar will take place on Tuesday 24th January 2023 at 7.00 pm. Its subject will be: “When history is painful: difficult and contentious memorialisation in churches.”

This seminar will be led by Fr Charles Card-Reynolds, and will take the example of S. George’s Cathedral, Kingstown, St Vincent which contains multiple colonial era memorials to those directly and indirectly involved with enslavement.

The Zoom link for the seminar can be found here.


All Saints’ Church en fête: the sanctuary looking resplendent on Christmas morning, and the shrine of Our Lady of Margaret Street, with a spectacular floral arrangement created by Shawn Welby-Cooke.  


King Charles the Martyr

The annual commemoration of the saintly death of King Charles I, which is organised each year by the Society of King Charles the Martyr, will take place at All Saints’, Margaret Street, with a High Mass on Monday 30th January 2023 at 12 noon. This is because the Banqueting House is still undergoing renovation.


In the sermon at Midnight Mass, Fr Barry Orford focussed on the shepherds at the manger. What does it tell us about God, that he choses these lowly individuals to be the first to recognise and adore Christ? This is a God who delights to dwell amongst us, and who comes to us in the bread and wine of the Eucharist as we celebrate the Mass at Christmas. Watch again here.


Parish outing to the British Library

There will be a parish trip to see a new exhibition focussed on Alexander the Great on Tuesday 31st January, 2023. We will meet at the British Library at 6.15 pm and the cost of the trip is £15, followed by dinner at Pizza Express at 8.00 pm for those who wish to stay on at a cost of £25. To book a place, please email the Parish Office.


Fr Peter’s homily at the Solemn Mass for Christmas morning: in the eyes of the world, the Incarnation is a madness and a folly; but for those who live by faith, it is a saving reality, vindicated by Christ’s triumph at Easter. You can watch the sermon here on our Youtube Channel, and the whole liturgy for Christmas morning here.


All Saints’ Lent Lecture:
Fruits of the Spirit – Art from the Heart

We are very pleased that the curator of the National Gallery’s virtual exhibition entitled, “Fruits of the Spirit – Art from the Heart,” the Revd Dr Ayla Lepine, will give our Lent Lecture in March on the topic of this interesting project.

The lecture will take place at All Saints’ in person and online on Thursday 23rd March at 7.30 pm.

This innovative virtual experience organised by the National Gallery pairs nine pictures from the National Gallery’s collection with nine from partner institutions. The exhibition is inspired by Saint Paul’s description of the effects and fruits of the Spirit described in his Letter to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Ayla will explore the themes the artwork brings up, the theological questions they prompt, and the difference that online interaction with works of art makes.

You “visit” the exhibition by clicking on the link here to enter a virtual gallery in the comfort of your own home wherever you are in the world. You can see pictures side by side each other which in reality live hundreds of miles apart!


The Revd Dr Ayla Lepine: the Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Fellow in Art and Religion at the National Gallery, London, and Associate Rector of St James’, Piccadilly.


The Christmas traditions of Rome:
bay trees and oranges

One of the most ancient Christmas traditions of the city of Rome is to decorate the altars of churches with extraordinary bay trees covered in orange fruits. This tradition has been perpetuated at the London Oratory for many years but is being revived in other Italian churches. They have recently re-appeared in the Church of St Philip Neri, Lodi, in Lombardy, we hear. The bay tree with its curious orange fruits has deep theological meaning.

In ancient times, the bay tree was closely associated with the naiad Daphne. Apollo was madly involve her and pursued her. At the moment when he thought he had caught her, she turned into a bay laurel tree. For that reason, the this laurel was commonly referred to as “Apollo’s tree,” and the bay a symbol of chaste (and also chased!) purity.

In the Christian era, this myth was re-read and transformed in the light of the story of the Nativity. The laurel tree came to represent Mary. Just as Daphne retains her chaste virginity, so Mary too is God’s virginal loved one – not as a hunted object of desire, but as the chaste spouse who through her fiat consents to God’s plan of salvation.

[The High altar at the London Oratory dressed for Christmas Day, preserving the Roman tradition of decoration with bay trees and oranges.]

The allegorical connection between Mary and trees gradually becomes more developed. She is often presented in Christian meditation as a tree offering shade and comfort to those who fly to her, or as a new Tree of Life, reversing the sin of Eden.

In Ancient Rome the bay tree was also held to posses magical powers because of its mystical connection with Daphne. Two bay trees were often put on either side of a main door way to ward off evil. It was also said that lightening would never strike a location where a bay tree was planted. It made sense eventually to bring bay trees into churches to decorate the altar space at Christmas in order to christianise this superstition.

These bay trees began to be hung with oranges to produce a unique tree that would never naturally occur. This represented an inversion of the story of the Garden of Eden; just as Eve ate of the Forbidden Tree in Eden, so our Lady is preserved from that sin, and is like the Tree of Life bringing forth the world’s saviour. Just like a bay giving forth oranges, she is a unique thing that human nature would never usually produce.

The orange is frequently used in Christian art as a symbol of Mary’s fecundity because of the unique way in which the plant brings forth at the same time white blossoms and fruit. This stands allegorically for the way in which Mary miraculously preserves her virginity whilst bringing forth the fruit of her womb, Jesus.

Whether one wishes to revive this tradition in our homes and churches or not, it is a fascinating example of the way in which popular liturgical praxis has sought to express profound truths at the heart of the Gospel through typological symbolism. It roots the Christian message in local culture through the “baptising” of ancient legend and the transformation of pagan superstition.

Bay trees hung with oranges adorning an altar in the Church of St Philip Neri, Lodi, Lombardy, for Christmas.


Links for Sunday

The links for the livestream and service sheet Sunday’s High Mass are at the end of this email.

Please note that there will be no service of Evensong and Benediction this Sunday.


Prayer list

The sick

Fr. Harry Hodgetts, Elizabeth Lyon, James Shrimpton, Gloria Fleming, David Craig, Martin Berka, James Rodger, Amanda Barrett, Don McWhinney, Greg Loveday, Keith Bevan, Cathy Horan, Kevin Coughlan, Tony Hawkins

The faithful departed

Mary Priday, Sister Dorothea CSC

Anniversaries of death

January 1st – Ethel de Rougement, Trevor Burnett-Brown, Nicholas Luff
2nd – Hugh Glaisyer, Pr.
3rd – Berdmore Compton, Pr. (second vicar of All Saints’), Eileen Prior
4th – Henry Howell, John Wylde Pr., Joan Banyard, John Auton
5th – Ernest Waggett, Timothy Shaw, Emily Finnis, Tom Ryder Pr., Mary Park, Constance Tweed
6th – Robert Routledge, Winifred Nash, Florence Mason, Richard Mosbery
7th – Fay Ireland, Jill Horley, Anthony Bullock

The Friends of All Saints’

January 1st – Mark Allan, Martin Amherst-Lock, Bryan Anderson, Mary Attenborough, Richard Ayling, James Babington Smith
2nd – Ruth Baker, Stephen Barber, Fr. Roger Beck, Dr. William Benefield, Charlotte Black, Joy Blacklock, Graeme Bloom
3rd – David Blunden, Colin Bodkin, Fr. Michael Bowie, Eric Broglé, Fr. Julian Browning, Margaret Burgess
4th – Kate Burling, Graham Burns, Maureen Cambrey, Adrian Carlton-Oatley, Kate Charles
5th – Stuart Chillingworth, Sandy Christian, Laurence Clark, Roger Clark, Catharine Clarke, Sr. Jane Cledwyn-Davies
6th – David and Mavis Cleggett, Graham Colville, Alan Cook, Patrick Cook, Eliza Coomber, Karolyn Cooper
7th – William Cooper Bailey, Tony Coote, Peter Coulson, Steven Cox, Yvonne Craig, Kirill Dashkovskiy


Service times this week

Sunday 1st January – The Naming and Circumcision of Christ
11.00 am Solemn Mass

Monday 2nd January – Ss. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen
12.00 noon Mass

Tuesday 3rd January – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Wednesday 4th January – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Thursday 5th January – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Friday 6th January – The Epiphany of the Lord
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm High Mass

Saturday 7th January – Feria
12.00 noon Mass
6.30 pm Vigil Mass of Sunday

Sunday 8th January – The Baptism of the Lord
11.00 am Solemn Mass
5.15 pm Mass
6.00 pm Epiphany Carol Service and Benediction