St. Nicholas

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Ceremony of the Boy Bishop
Hereford Cathedral


2007 Boy Bishop George Hanks with supporting choristers Xander Drury and Alex Thorman
Used by permisison

Welcome

Background to the Ceremony of the Boy Bishop

This annual ceremony is a successor to a service that developed sometime in the thirteenth century. The climax of the ceremony takes place during the singing of the canticle Magnificat. As the choir sings the words He hath put down the mighty from their seat, the Boy Bishop displaces the Bishop of Hereford from his episcopal chair. This dramatic moment is charged with spiritual meaning.

An equally dramatic moment is recorded in the Gospels, when our Lord was asked by his disciples, who is the greatest in the kingdom of God? Much to their surprise Jesus gave them a memorable lesson, which still haunts the human imagination. Jesus took a little child 'and set him in the midst of them' (Matthew XVIII, 2). Deep in Christianity there has always been the teaching that children are nothing less than the measure of our humanity, and that no one will enter the kingdom of God ahead of them. This child-centred teaching about membership of God's kingdom always comes as an affront to adult pride and invites grown-ups to think new thoughts and adopt new perspectives. Very appropriately, in one of the few surviving sermons preached by a Boy Bishop during the middle ages, the choice of text was 'Except you will be converted, and made like unto little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.'

ORDER OF SERVICE

At 3.30 pm all stand as the cathedral procession enters in this order

Lay Clerks
A Verger
Cathedral Reader
Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral Junior School
Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School
Librarian
Minor Canon
Chapter Clerk
Prebendaries
Additional Members of Chapter
Residentiary Canons
Dean
Bishop's Apparitor
Bishop
Bishop's Chaplain

The Bishop is escorted to his episcopal chair by the Canon in Residence and the Dean, and when they have reached their places, all remain standing as the Boy Bishop's procession enters the cathedral from the south-east transept in this order

A Verger
Crucifer and Taperers
Cathedral Choristers (carrying lighted candles)
Organist & Director of Music
Boy Bishop
Boy Bishop's Attendants

As the Boy Bishop's procession makes its progress through the cathedral by way of sexton's crossing, the choristers sing the following prose for the feast of the Holy Innocents

Sedente in superne majestatis arce, adorant humillime, proclamantes ad te: sancte, sancte, sancte, sabaoth rex, plena sunt omnia glorie tue. Cum illis unde viginti quinque atque cum innocentissimo grege qui sine ulla sint labe, dicentes excelsa bone: laus tibi sit, Domine, rex eterne glorie ideo regnant cum Deo Agnus Dei cum illis.
They are seated in heavenly majesty; they humbly adore thee and cry out: Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Hosts, all things are full of thy glory. With them, the twenty-four who are without stain, and the most innocent company saying in their highest voice: Praise be, O Lord, to thee, eternal king of glory. Thus let them reign with God, and the Lamb of God with them.

All remain standing while the Dean welcomes the congregation and then continue standing while the choir sings

Preces & Responses

O Lord, open thou our lips.
And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord's Name be praised.
—Thomas Ebdon 1738-1811

All sit while the choir sings

Psalm

Psalm XV
Chant by Benjamin Lamb fl 1700-33

All sit

First Lesson
read by an attendant of the Boy Bishop

I Samuel III, 1-10

All stand

Procession

Boy Bishop

The Lord be with you:
All And with thy spirit.
Boy Bishop Let us go forth in peace:
All In the name of Christ. Amen.

The cathedral procession goes by way of the north transept and quire aisle to the retro-quire, then the south quire aisle and transept, and back to the quire in the following order

A Verger
Crucifer and Taperers
Cathedral Choristers
Lay Clerks
Organist & Director of Music
A Verger
Cathedral Reader
Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral Junior School
Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School
Librarian
Minor Canon
Chapter Clerk
Prebendaries
Additional Members of Chapter
Residentiary Canons
Dean
A Verger
Boy Bishop
Boy Bishop's Attendants

The Bishop remains in his episcopal chair until the cathedral procession has left the quire, then the Bishop's Apparitor conducts him and his Chaplain to King Stephen's Chair

During the procession all sing the following hymn

Hymn

When the cathedral procession has returned to the stalls in the quire, the Boy Bishop and his attendants stand before the Bishop who is sitting in King Stephen's Chair at the tower crossing

Inauguration of the Boy Bishop

Bishop

Blessed is he who puts his trust in the Lord.
N., you have been chosen to serve in the office of Boy Bishop of this cathedral church of St Mary the Virgin and St Ethelbert the King in Hereford. Will you be faithful and keep the promises that were made for you in Holy Baptism and affirmed by you at your Confirmation?
Boy Bishop
I will: the Lord being my helper.
Bishop
While you hold this office, will you pray regularly for the members of this cathedral foundation and for all who need your prayers?
Boy Bishop
I will: the Lord being my helper.

The Boy Bishop kneels and offers this collect

Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called to your service: strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing of the Boy Bishop

Bishop

God the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love, defend you on every side, and guide you in truth and peace; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

The Boy Bishop stands and receives the Bishop's pastoral staff, then faces the congregation

Presentation

Bishop

Brothers and sisters, I present to you N., duly inaugurated as Boy Bishop of this cathedral church.

The congregation greets the Boy Bishop with applause

All stand while the choir sings

Magnificat

My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded: the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth: all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me: and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him: throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel: as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Luke I, 46-55
Evening Service in G
Francis Jackson b 1917

During Magnificat the Bishop's Apparitor leads the Bishop to his seat on the south side of the sanctuary, followed by the Boy Bishop and his attendants, who process through the quire to the altar rail, where they wait facing the altar until the verse 'He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek', when the Boy Bishop and his attendants go to the episcopal chair and sit down

All kneel

Blessing of the Congregation

The Boy Bishop says

Jesus said to his disciples,
'Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall never enter it.'
Our help is in the name of the Lord:

All
who has made heaven and earth.
Boy Bishop
Blessed be the name of the Lord:
All
now and for ever. Amen.
Boy Bishop

May almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve and keep us from this day forward and for evermore.

All 

Amen.

All sit

Second Lesson
read by an attendant of the Boy Bishop

Matthew XVIII, 1-7

All stand while the choir sings

Nunc Dimittis

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace: according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen: thy salvation.
Which thou hast prepared: before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles: and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Luke II, 29-32
Evening Service in G Francis Jackson

All remain standing and say

The Apostles' Creed

All remain standing while the choir sings

Lesser Litany

The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.

All kneel

Let us pray.
Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

The Lord's Prayer

Responses

O Lord, shew thy mercy upon us.
And grant us thy salvation.
O Lord, save the Queen.
And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.
Endue thy Ministers with righteousness.
And make thy chosen people joyful.
O Lord, save thy people.
And bless thine inheritance.
Give peace in our time, O Lord.
Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God.
O God, make clean our hearts within us.
And take not thy holy Spirit from us.
—Thomas Ebdon

Collect of St Nicholas' Day

Almighty Father, lover of souls, who chose thy servant Nicholas to be a bishop in the Church, that he might give freely out of the treasures of thy grace: make us mindful of the needs of others and, as we have received, so teach us also to give; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect of the Advent Season

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and for ever. Amen.

Collect for Peace

O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Collect for Aid against all Perils

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

All sit while the choir sings

Anthem

All stand and sing

Hymn

The Boy Bishop

Prayers of Intercession

All kneel

The Boy Bishop stands and says

Let us pray.
As St Nicholas is the patron saint of children, let us pray for all children and young people; for the schools of our city and counties; for children who are unhappy or who are ill-treated; for all who enjoy little childhood; for all who care for children, for parents and teachers; and for a spirit of simplicity and trust in all that we do.

Take away from us, O God, all pride and vanity, all boasting and self-assertion, and give us the true courage that shows itself in gentleness, the true wisdom that shows itself in simplicity, and the true power that shows itself in modesty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As St Nicholas is the patron saint of choristers, let us pray for all who make music in our churches and cathedral; for the Royal School of Church Music; for the Choir Schools' Association; for the Friends of Cathedral Music; for all who encourage and support the music in this cathedral church: and we pray for harmony in all our dealings with others; for peace and unity in the church and the world; and for a willingness to understand the differences of others.

Eternal God, source of beauty and harmony, we praise you for the gift of music, and we pray that, as by this gift our souls are enriched and renewed, so we may glorify you in a fuller dedication of ourselves, giving thanks always for all things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As St Nicholas - Santa Claus - is associated with giving at Christmas, let us pray for a spirit of generosity in our own lives: generosity with our time and talents; generosity with our possessions; and generosity in our judgement of others.

Lord Jesus, born in a stable, teach us not to become so engrossed in material things that we lose the sense of the true value of life. Spirit of Love, inspire us with generosity towards people who are in misfortune or distress. We ask these prayers, giving glory to God in the highest, now and for evermore. Amen.

All stand and sing the following hymn, during which a collection is taken and presented, and the Dean & Chapter escort the Boy Bishop to the sanctuary

Hymn

All remain standing while the Boy Bishop is given two pence, which is the traditional stipend of his office, that was intended to cover the cost of candles that were used during the service—a charge that was required by the thirteenth-century cathedral statutes

As the blessing was given earlier in the service, all kneel for

Grace

The Boy Bishop says

Let us join all our prayers and praises together in the words of the Grace. All The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.

All remain kneeling while the choir sings

Final Responses

The Lord be with you:
And with thy spirit.
Let us bless the Lord:
Thanks be to God.

Organ Voluntary

All stand while the procession recesses by way of sexton's crossing, the south nave and quire aisles, to St John's Door in the following order


1988 Boy Bishop Timothy Noon Hereford Cathedral restored the Ceremony of the Boy Bishop in 1982
Used by permisison

A Verger
Crucifer and Taperers
Cathedral Choristers
Lay Clerks
Organist & Director of Music
A Verger
Cathedral Reader
Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral Junior School
Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School
Librarian
Minor Canon
Chapter Clerk
Prebendaries Additional Members of Chapter
Residentiary Canons
Dean
Bishop's Apparitor
Bishop
Bishop's Chaplain
A Verger
Boy Bishop
Boy Bishop's Attendants


From Hereford Cathedral, Cathedral Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint Ethelbert the King. Used by permission.

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