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!
Categories: Written by Arthur
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.