31 March 2015

The Pearl's Great Price

As Father Heaven, Jupiter, was born
and scaled a  hill to thunder off command;
and Alexander spread his father’s land
to claim as Son of God his crown was worn;
when fortunate Octavian settled power
and called the order ‘Peace’, himself ‘God’s Son’,
there dawned a Light that lightens everyone
and majesty and armour passed their hour.
A father’s field is for a treasure’s grave,
a hill for dwelling and a rock the throne,
where all a loving son will pay is shown,
and force of glory’s arms are Mars unbrave.
I know not where the pearl, this victor, lies,
but buy the field and search for peace, His prize.

(c) Mark Woodruff, 30 November 1996

30 March 2015

The Revd Dr Joe Cassidy, Canon of Durham, Principal of St Chad's College, and sometime member of the Society of Jesus, RIP

The wonderful, kind, excellent and inspiring Canon Dr Joe Cassidy, principal of St Chad's College, Durham has died after a heart attack that he and we all thought he was steadily recovering from. May his memory be eternal! Joe has been vitally important not only for those who were at St Chad's in his time, but also for us who there before and had been worried so many times that it might not survive. Friends will know that my achievement during my time at Durham was hardly illustrious, but I loved St Chad's for everything it gave me, including a formation and a challenge that bore fruit later and that have shaped me from that day to this.

After many years of cyclical decay, restoration, implosion, improvement and perennial uncertainty, one wondered how on earth St Chad's could last as a credible academic body with a distinctive Church tradition in a higher education institution, itself facing the challenges of modernisation and harshly competitive economic realities. Then along came Joe. Scarcely a term went by without news of a new record being broken - highest retention/completion rates, no 1 of the Durham colleges for applications, highest number of firsts and 2:1s, new eminence in the SCR, an MCR, financial stability, ambitious new building projects, expansion, 6% reduced energy consumption more than any other college in the university, and - at last - a positive engagement with the alumni that tapped into our ready response with enthusiasm, resource and renewed pride. It was an honour to be drawn into Joe's St Chad's project, and to note that the vital element of what made St Chad's what it was "in our day" was still there - a community of people living, learning and working together, and still rooted in the inspiration that had founded it as a place for those who didn't fit in, or couldn't afford to go, anywhere else, namely its distinctive and even at times ever so slightly eccentric Christian Church tradition.

I once told Joe that Chad's was now so good that it would have been impossible for me nowadays even to hope to be given a place. His reply was gracious, humbling and disarming; and I cast my mind back to the interview with Fr Fenton on the floor with his back out, and then the searching hour with Fr Johnson under the glare of his desk spotlight back in 1976, leading me to resolve to go nowhere other than that ramshackle, sideline of a place - with its prefab chapel and John Cosin woodwork, and an organ scholar but no organ - in which it was clear to me that real humans lived and where I might hope to become one. Joe has understood and maintained this sense of personality in the College, which is why he is loved, thanked, admired and sorely missed now that it has become the magnificent beacon that it is today. I strongly suspect that, had he been Principal in the late 1970s, I would have worked very much harder than I did, not just to do the best I could in the environment he animated, but also because he was so intently interested in the minds of other people and wanted the best from them, and for them.

Joe - thank you for giving us back something precious in St Chad's that we had either lost or had not quite had the first time around. And may your memory be eternal!

Judica Me

Lord Jesus Christ, with faith in Your deep love
and mercy, now I eat Your Body racked
and torn by all the extent of trust I lacked
till to Your City’s peace You had me move.
I waited long that true ‘God’s good’ might prove
and, now I drink Your Blood with joy, the fact
of suffering’s cup from memory is blacked
(Patience’s fruit fell from a Tree above).
Swift to the Prodigal the Father ran -
so swift the Saviour runs to kiss the Cross,
that judgment and resentment at a loss
are found and vinegar dumbs doom of man.
Judge only this: my healing, Saviour kind -
my body to be Yours and Yours my mind.

(c) Mark Woodruff, 30 November 1996


29 March 2015

Hymns: The Sound of Communion

This paper first appeared in Anglicans & Catholics in Communion, Special Edition of The Messenger of the Catholic League, April-August 2010). It was published again in two parts in Bulletins 272 & 273 of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 20, 2012.

It considers the place of English metrical hymnody in the Mass of the Roman Rite, and the science of their selection and deployment. The title is a phrase of Rowan Williams'.

The article can be read and downloaded here.

Eastern Hymn to the Holy Spirit

Tsaryu nebesnyi

King of the Heavens, Lord God Almighty,
Advocate, Spirit, Truth from above:
Fill with Your blessing all things in bounty,
Set every heart on fire with Your love.

King of the Heavens, Treas’ry of graces,
Good One, bestowing life in Your might.
Dwell now within us, enter all places;
Shine in our darkness Your cleansing light.

King of the Heavens, in truth and virtue
Come as Christ promised, Life-giving Fire.
Save us and make us holy, to meet You;
Strengthen our service, our hearts’ Desire.

O. Nyzhankov’skyy, 1919, from a sticheron of the Holy Spirit
Trans. Anon., adapted and revised © Mark Woodruff 2014

"Heavenly King" is prayed at the beginning of nearly all Liturgies and services in the Byzantine rite outside the season of Pascha. There is an existing versification, very popular in Ukrainian, with a beautifully haunting tune, but the traditional English translation known in North American is only a loose rendering of both the Ukrainian hymn and the Byzantine chant on which it is based. As it is a custom sometimes to sing metrical hymns and carols before and after the Divine Liturgy in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, we wanted to embrace something that would be engaging to our English-speaking worshippers familiar with hymns from Western traditions. So last year, the adaptation above was made, for the faithful to sing prior to the Divine Liturgy in English at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London, which takes place on the second Saturday of each month.

O living flame of love

O living flame of Love,
how tenderly You wound
my soul’s deep heart.
Make happy ending of
our sweet embrace that, bound,
would pains impart.

O searing, are you sweet;
O wound, are you delight
from such a hand.
Your mortal touch of heat
sets dying life alight,
all debt thus banned.

Now deep, where feeling dwelt
in caverns blind, obscure,
shine lamps of fire !
In warmth let them be felt,
and lovely light be pure
for their Desire.

Where good and glory rest
Your secret breathings wake
from sleep and move,
so gentle in my breast,
by tender pains to make
me fall in love.

St John of the Cross ODC 1542-1591
English translation and adaptation by Mark Woodruff (c) June 1999.
This is a compact version of a fuller translation with another line in each stanza from 1998 that I am revising still.  It goes with a musical setting that I have also been written, but the verses are more poem than hymn.

28 March 2015

A Passiontide Hymn

King, in the majesty of Truth
Your justice stands decreed:
Ancient of Days, when comes the hour
Your subject world shall heed?
When will the people grant Your crown,
and take Your yoke of peace;
when will they bid You take the sin,
for evil ways to cease?

Not in the world’s grand walks of power,
not in the rule of state,
not in the counsels of the wise,
for judgment need we wait:
Christ in a stable holds His court,
the stall His bench of law;
shepherds and kings the meaning see,
when princes dwell in straw;

Then in high time’s appointed turn
the world You moved to gain:
Seizing for love the weight of sin,
You bowed Yourself to pain.
Drawn to the lifting of Your Cross
come all, forgiven, free:
here is Your crowning, here our peace,
King, reigning from the Tree.

Mark Woodruff © 1990 & 1996
I first started to work on this when I was precentor at the Cathedral of St James in Bury St Edmunds. We used the prototype for a Passiontide service, to the lovely tune Coe Fen by Ken Taylor, for which the Organist at the time, Paul Trepte, was seeking more words.

21 March 2015

A Third Candlemas Hymn

The third and last response to Fr Daniel Lloyd's challenge to me, to translate some German hymns for the Presentation into English.

The first two (see here, and here) were from the Reformation tradition, dating from the 17th century. Here is one from the Paderborn Catholic diocesan hymnal of 1874, Sursum Corda. The authorship is unattributed.

Word of the Father, Light to every nation,
Bright in the Temple, all the world’s salvation,
Here sees glad earth in You its consolation,
Saviour appearing.

Small in your Mother’s arms Your life is proffered;
Vast in compassion comes the life You suffered
Sacred to be, the spotless Victim, offered
For our redeeming.

Thus dawns the Light that lightens every mortal;
Thus comes foretold the sacrifice that bought all;
Thus in the Temple opens heaven’s portal,
Mary, God-bearing.

Simeon departs in peace, Your Light perceiving;
Hannah goes forth in joyful song, believing.
Out from our dark we follow, grace receiving,
Your face achieving.

Wort des Vaters, Licht der Heiden,
Heil und Trost der ganzen Welt;
heute bist Du unter Freuden
in dem Tempel dargestellt.
Klein, auf Deiner Mutter Armen
ziehst Du in den Tempel ein;
und du läßt Dich voll Erbarmen
zum Erlösungsopfer weih’n.

„Nun“, ruft Simeon voll Freuden,

„nun will ich in Frieden geh’n!
Das verheiß’ne Licht der Heiden,
unser Heil hab ich geseh’n!“
Freudig tritt, vom Geist geführet,
Anna in der Frommen Kreis;
und, von Gottes Huld gerühret,
stimmt sie ein in Dank und Preis.

Fröhlich wollen wir Dich preisen,

aller Menscheit Heil und Licht,
mit den beiden frommen Greisen
harren Dein mit Zuversicht.
Laß in Deinem Licht uns wandeln,
stets die Nacht der Sünde scheu’n;
nur nach Deinem Vorbild handeln,
einst im ew’gen Licht uns freu’n!

From Sursum Corda, Paderborn, 1874
trans. Mark Woodruff © 21.03.2015

The English translation is best sung to Iste Confessor. The German tune is unremarkable and what you need to say is not easily to be fitted into its metre (Fr Daniel had proposed Abbot's Leigh). Hence the choice above of the English form of the Sapphic metre.

09 March 2015

Istanbul to Great Dixter and Gardening Back Again

Imagine driving through the junction of London’s M25 and M3 motorways. Then imagine, in place of the fields and woods, it is at Canary Wharf, surrounded by a high-rise new financial district with towers of luxury flats. Next imagine between the sliproads are as much as you can get in of Kew, RHS, Darwin’s Downe, Ryton, Chelsea, Edinburgh and Great Dixter gardens. Imagine, too, after some demise in great-house gardening following the Great War, it has taken 80 years to start them up again and re-awaken Britain’s interest in growing plants. Welcome to Istanbul’s Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanic Gardens, a green lung on the city’s Asian side, which Fergus Garrett (CEO and Head Gardener, Great Dixter) and I visited in November 2014.

Here on 32 hectares in eight traffic islands linked by tunnels and bridges, amid 50,000 trees and shrubs are conserved the native plants and flowers of Turkey, from each of its diverse habitats that give Britain most of what we grow in our gardens here. One island is for the 2,000 species of Istanbul province. The large Anatolia island has mountain, high plateau, Black Sea and Mediterranean, salt and arid habitats, each requiring mineral-rich regional soils and stone to cover land left bare after motorway construction. The latest project is a volcanic mountain tulip meadow.

Fergus spent his earlier years on the Bosphorus and so Turkey springs up everywhere across Dixter, from the geophytes to the verbascums and the giant fennel familiar at a glance, to the lesser known flowers he has trialled from seed. If you ask, “Would they make the transition; how are they propagated; where would they thrive?”, you see the bond with Turkey is not just for more exuberance at Great Dixter, but transferring knowledge that strengthens the conservation of plants and biodiversity everywhere.

Likewise the Gardens in Istanbul are about awareness of Turkey’s own forgotten horticulture, the exceptional richness of its habitats and the urgency of protecting the natural environment. While Istanbul’s annual Tulip Festival depends on imports from Holland, whole hillsides risk being industrially stripped of wild tulips for commercial export. So Dixter is helping to restore the balance: two students from Istanbul were invited over in January to learn how bulbs are prepared and planted out, and so restore skills to the region they first came from. Already when you go to Nezahat Gökyiğit Gardens, you can’t miss the new succession-planted border – and those trademark Dixter pot displays.

Mark Woodruff, a Friend of Great Dixter, works for the Monument Trust, which helped secure the future by purchasing Dixter Farms, now home to our scholarship students and the Education Centre.

From the Friends of Great Dixter Newsletter, March/April 2015

07 March 2015

Walking Together: Second Interview for "Both Lungs" at Royal Doors

Brent Kostyniuk came over to London in early 2014, attended our Liturgy, and later interviewed me for his column, Both Lungs, which is about Christians of East and West needing each other and learning from each other. It is syndicated to the English-language Ukrainian resource page, Royal Doors. Part one (Here: Bi-ritual Faculties) looked at serving in two rites. Part Two considers how the different sides of the Church, east and west, Catholic and Orthodox, need each other and must come together:


For six years now, this column has worked at spreading the message of St. John Paul II who proclaimed that the Church – that is you and I – should breathe through both lungs, East and West. One who breathes through both lungs is Fr. Mark Woodruff a priest with bi-ritual faculties serving both the Latin and Ukrainian Catholic Churches in London, England. Having previously explained how he came to his deep appreciation for the East, Fr. Mark now offers his views and experience of East and West. Moreover, based on that experience, he challenges us to go beyond simply breathing with both lungs.

Fr. Mark was asked what East has to offer to the West. “In my view, this is the wrong question. Too much ecumenism is about how we can make others come round to our way of thinking and so be more like us as the precondition for rapprochement. This is not standing up for principles; instead it’s forcing ourselves on others, actively and passively – it’s manipulation and even bullying. Pope Francis has just said that evangelization is not proselytizing, with its undertone of pressured persuasion – the Gospel gains its response by attraction. So, instead, it is important for the West to identify what it can learn from the East and thus what it lacks at the moment to be more truly itself. Christianity is, after all, an Eastern religion in origin. By the same token, the East needs to identify what it can learn from the West. We talk about Orientale Lumen a lot – but some of my Orthodox friends also say, at least privately, that they need some Occidentale Lumen.

Fr. Mark next considers how East and West might grow closer together. “The more we go on saying, ‘they have nothing to teach us,’ or ‘all they need to do is to acknowledge they are heretics, give up their error and conform to the true faith,’ whether that comes from Latins or Orientals, the more fixed will be our separation. I believe that, largely speaking, the matters of dogmatic difference between East and West have been addressed thoroughly through dialogue, and if they have not been resolved then they are still being talked through towards that end, or else they are not necessarily Church-dividing. Sadly, the perspective of some on one side or the other can be that they alone must prevail to the exclusion of the other. This gets us nowhere other than confirmed in an opposition that is native to neither Catholic nor Orthodox traditions.”

“Neither Orthodoxy nor Catholicism as we understand them now is an end in itself but aspects of the same, single reality of the universal Church that both are to manifest. We tend to use these terms to describe the distinct Church communions contained within the boundaries of ‘Roman Catholic’ and ‘Orthodox.’ But Orthodoxy should explicitly be a mark of the Catholic Church no less than Catholicity should mark the Orthodox Church. A very eminent Orthodox priest made this point very strongly to me a few years ago, saying that the trouble with the schism meant that he could not describe himself as ‘a Catholic priest’ in England because that would be misunderstood. Yet, he said, being a priest of the universal Catholic and Orthodox Church he was indeed a Catholic priest, but in no exclusive or denominational sense, just as by the same token I am an Orthodox priest. This brought me up short and I found it quite humbling.”

Our respective Church organizations seem to be making exclusive truth claims; but I often think that these only make sense in terms of the unified life we will have after reconciliation and reunion, and which were the conditions for existence prior to the emergence of Byzantine and Latin, Catholic and Orthodox as distinct traditions and ecclesiastical realities. Pope Paul and Patriarch Athenagoras removed the anathemas between the Roman and Constantinopolitan patriarchates – so even though we have not finally resolved our theological differences or achieved the restoration of communion, nonetheless we have said what holds us apart is not, in the end, necessarily church-dividing – the mutual out-casting has gone.” Fr. Mark adds our distinct ritual and spiritual-theological approaches can be preserved as full manifestations of the Gospel and the life of the one Church. “We have much to learn from each other because God has given his gifts within each of the Churches for the benefit and perfection of all.”

The road ahead, however, will not be without difficulties. “What we have yet to learn is how to take down the barriers erected through human failure, so that we are no longer prevented from freely and fully receiving what he has given, as well as freely and humbly offering everything that we are in the hope that it will be fully accepted. There are principles, and as the faculty for bi-ritualism points out, there is no place for syncretism and mixing everything up – we must respect each other’s integrity too. Diversity is the measure of the universality of one Church with one faith.”

“The image of the two lungs East and West is very striking, and it instantly makes its point – that we are self-incapacitating by separation. But I have never felt it was figuratively accurate. But what of the lungs of the Syriac, Assyrian, Armenian, Coptic, and Ethiopic traditions? I prefer the image of Paul Couturier, the great and holy French Catholic priest who encountered the Russian refugees in camps around the city of Lyons after World War One and was so moved that he transformed the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from being an Octave of well intentioned, but counterproductive, prayer to get others to conform to Roman Catholicism, to an exercise in seeking ever greater sanctification by imitating the holiness of other Christians in their pursuit of union with and in Christ. He called it ‘spiritual emulation’ and this is what is meant by ‘spiritual ecumenism,’ also a phrase of his that found its way into the Decree on Ecumenism at Vatican II.”

“How is this achieved, he asked? He made up yet another word: parallelaboration, by which he meant working things out together as we hurry eagerly along the road together side by side to the same destination: two close tracks alongside each other that almost unnoticed converge in effective reality now, as they do from a distance, at the same place, namely in the same Person – union in and with Christ. Christ prayed for us to be one so that the world would believe it was the Father who sent Him, after all.”

“But rather than speaking of each side struggling with one lung with all the depleted effort that implies, I’d rather think of the two as the excited disciples who were so inseparable in their discussion and zeal as they made their way to Emmaus consumed with the news of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, that they did not realize that their twin paths beside each other had actually converged upon the Risen Lord Himself, making Himself know to them in the Breaking of Bread. So – not so much two lungs, as two disciples who race after and fix their eyes on the Pioneer, and who meet in him – even collide – as the Perfecter of their faiths” (Hebrews 12).

“Ecumenism is not a diversion from the main business of being the Church where God has set us. It is the joy of being free of the encumbrance that keeps us apart and of the sin that tangles us up.”

Breathing through Both Lungs. Walking together. Will this column have to change its title?

Another Candlemas Hymn

Following an earlier post, my friend Fr Daniel Lloyd of the Oxford Ordinariate group sent me another German text.

Here is my effort at translating it and putting it into hymn-verse. We will use it at the 2015 Biennial Ecumenical Marian Pilgrimage to Walsingham, 17-20 March.

Maria ging geschwind mit ihrem lieben Kind;
sie ging von Betlehem zur Stadt Jerusalem
und trug zum Tempel ein das zarte Jesulein.

Sie opfert diesen Hort nach des Gesetzes Wort.

Sie gab das Kindlein dar, von Täublein auch ein Paar,
und löset ab mit Geld den Herren aller Welt.

Sankt Simeon, der Greis, kam auf des Herrn Geheiß.

Er nahm mit großer Lust das Kind an seine Brust,
davon sein Herz aufsprang, und er vor Freuden sang.

Auch kam Sankt Anna hin, die fromme Seherin.
Auf tat sie ihren Mund und macht das Kindlein kund.
Sie lobt das Kindlein sehr, und sagte, wer es wär.

O Kind, o Gottes Sohn, wie froh ist Simeon.

Wie froh Sankt Anna ist, daß Du gekommen bist!
Ach, komm und mach also von Herzen alle froh!

From Bethlehem with haste the Virgin on her way
went forth to Sion’s hill with thankful heart to pray:
And in the Temple to present
The tender Child from Heaven sent.

By sacrifice for love, keeping the Law’s decree,
Her arms their Son release His world at length to free:
The pair of doves, the store of gold,
Are naught beside the Lord foretold.

Now Simeon beholds the Light of all the world;
God’s glory he perceives in human frame unfurled.
Salvation in his heart’s embrace
Breaks forth to praise for endless grace.

By wonder’s silent hope the righteous Anna nears,
Redemption’s rise to see, expectant all her years:
Then lifts her voice in song to praise
The Saviour come to crown her days.

For Simeon the Light to human eyes revealed;
For Anna, Son of God, redemption born a Child:
As once You came, their whole delight,
So earth entire, all hearts, make bright.

Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld, 1623 trans. Mark Woodruff © 21.2.2015
This goes to Harewood or Crofts 148th

02 March 2015

Last of the Leopards: Sicily's Fading Nobility, in the Weekend Telegraph Magazine, No 71, 4th February 1966

Princess Alexandra di
widow of the writer of
The Leopard
Last of the Leopards: Sicily's Fading Nobility

Story by Godrey Blakeley,
Photographs by Elliott Erwitt