Menu Home

Ridley and the martyr consciousness

In our final chapel service for the year at Ridley, we sang a new hymn penned for the Ridley centenary by Peter Waterhouse. It was a poignant climax to a moving service, in which Peter Adam made an exultant call to praise from Psalm 145, and some of the 2010 graduands reflected on their time in the college community. The hymn captured for me the sense that we are not yet home, that we are on the exodus road or, perhaps, that we are a church in exile.

The hymn retells the execution of Ridley and Latimer and is set to the haunting melody of ‘Finlandia’. Along with Latimer’s famous candle slogan, the hymn takes up Ridley’s lesser-known words, which have been the slogan for our wall art:

So long as the breath is in my body, I will never deny my Lord Christ, and his known truth: God’s will be done in me.

What great words to inspire us as students.

There’s a sense in which the only true church is the martyr church, the church that knows sacrifice, knowing that the call to come and die is all-consuming, and knowing how to sing lament. It is not for nothing that ‘martyr’ comes from the word for witnessing or testifying; martyrdom and mission are deeply connected. How fitting that the hymn weaves our own futures out of Ridley’s martyrdom. To have grace imbued is to have death endued. We really do seek to render our lives.

Let us praise God for those who stood so firmly,

and made profession of the risen One.

October morn — the streets of Oxford wakening,

to mock and mourn these servants of the Son.

Two men chained near, baptism on the pyre;

yet three are here — Christ strengthens midst the fire.

A candle bright, they both shall light this new day,

that shall burn on, ne’er put out, by God’s grace.

“Be of good comfort Ridley”, cries the old man,

who bows in flame — beholds our Saviour’s face.

His friend in embers, burning, yet assured;

with final breath, he shan’t deny our Lord.

We thank you God, for all that’s been accomplished —

for lives enriched, minds trained and hearts renewed.

So we would honour all those faithful servants,

who built this ministry — Your grace imbued.

And cannot we render our lives with Christ’s might?

Our King served till life’s end — our sure delight!

PDF files: words and music.

Categories: Written by Arthur

Tagged as:

Arthur Davis

Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

4 replies

  1. Thanks Arthur for your thoughts and insights – it’s very appropriate in our centenary year to reflect again on the real-life sacrifices that lie behind our College’s history. Tertullian was indeed correct that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”.



    1. Cheers Peter. Rhys argues that Tertullian’s statement is incorrect insofar as martyrdom may not grow the church numerically, but yeah, I imagine that we really do get our identity straightened out when we know how to die.

  2. Ah yes, I remember Rhys making that point in Early Church History – perhaps we need to broaden the application and affirm that growth does not come about except through personal sacrifice? Then again, where would be as Anglicans if not for the reign of bloody Mary or the martyrdom of Cranmer?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: