Pew Sheet – 13th December 2020

The Rector writes The latest restrictions include ensuring that everyone, including me, wears masks (not visors) while in the church. We also need to keep doors open to thoroughly ventilate the church and at this time of the year so I’m afraid that this means it’ll be COLD in church so please do dress

accordingly! I’m sorry to say that singing has been totally ruled out but we hope to be able to play some specially recorded carols from the choir of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. As I said last week in church,

really the Government would rather that we weren’t open but they obviously felt pressurised into allowing public worship hence the additional restrictions.

It is up to us to make sure that we follow all of the instructions to the letter so that no-one will be

exposed to the virus while in the church. As usual please do stay at home if you feel unwell or if you feel any way vulnerable. We will of course continue with live-streaming the 11am Service from St Mary’s Church. Stay safe ! ’

The Christmas Services are filling up fast. I’m afraid that there are no places left at either the 10am or the 12 noon Services in St John’s Church on Christmas Day.  There are still some places available at the 11:30pm Service on Christmas Eve in St Mary’s Church, or at the 9am, 11am and 1pm Services in St Mary’s on Christmas Day.

I understand that many of you want to be in Church on Christmas morning with all of your family but perhaps you can think about going to an earlier or a later Service that you normally do, or to a different church?  I’m so sorry if you don’t get a place at one of Services this Christmas but as you well know, this Christmas is not an normal one in any respects and we are doing the best we possibly can under the circumstances.

Don’t forget we will also be live streaming the ‘Carols around the Crib’ Zoom Service in St Mary’s Church at 4pm on Christmas Eve (there will be Zoom invites going out on email soon) and the 11am Christmas Day Service in St Mary’s Church will be live-streamed too.

Thank you, Canon Elaine

The ‘Giving’ Christmas tree is up again over in St Mary’s Church. The idea behind this tree is that we put gifts for others on the shelves over the days of Christmas and then after Epiphany, we divide up the gifts and distribute to our charities  

Cork Penny Dinners : Dried food, cleaning substances etc  

Cuan Lee Women’s Refuge : Children’s Pyjamas, Women’s cosmetics and sanitary products, 

Cork Simon Community : Men and Women’s hats, socks, scarves, gloves, outer wear, wet weather wear, 

Kinsale Road Direct Provision Centre : Women’s sanitary products, school items, Pyjamas


Music Notes 13-12-2020

Third Sunday of Advent

Hymns for today at St Mary’s, Carrigaline

104    O for a thousand tongues

136    On Jordan’s bank

52 Christ whose glory fills the skies

Our first hymn today is sung to a tune called ‘Lyngham’. This is what is known as a ‘fuging’ tune associated with the West Gallery music tradition in the English Anglican Church of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

These tunes usually had a line in which the voices would enter after each other in imitation.

In this case it happens at the words ‘the triumph of his grace’.  Small rural churches often could not afford an organ or harmonium, and so a group of villagers would get together to help the singing by playing in a little gallery at the west end of the church.  Instruments included violins, cello, clarinet, flute – indeed anything available.

Thomas Hardy the novelist belonged to such a village group as a youth. His novel ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ describes what happens when the vicar decides to disband the group and install an organist.

Today there is a revival of this style of singing in the UK, and the US form – known as Shape Note or Sacred Harp singing – is also very popular.

Here is a YouTube link to a performance by a group at the Sidmouth Folk Festival of ‘While Shepherds Watched’. You can see that it is a very accessible form of group singing – and of course we have a west gallery in Carrigaline!

Thomas Webster: The Village Choir (c. 1847)

Bebhinn   087 228 5965


Random Notes No. CCCLXIX 

On December 21st, the Winder Solstice, there will be a Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, with the planets at their closest at 1800 Irish time. However, the planets will be more visible to the South at 2030. See the illustration for a guide to what can be expected. The planets will briefly appear as a single bright object in the sky to the naked eye. They will be an especially fine view through binoculars or a telescope.

The last Great Conjunction that was this close was in 1623.

Inevitably, some commentators have named it a new “Christmas Star.” Was the original Star in the East, which led the Magi to Bethlehem, such a conjunction? In 1614 German astronomer Johannes Kepler determined that there were actually three conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC. Given the degree of historical uncertainty as to when Jesus was born, these seem to have appeared at the right time.

This explanation is problematic, however.   The Gospel of Matthew gives a detailed description of the behaviour of the Star of the East, that it appeared to lead the Magi from Herod’s temple to Bethlehem. This implies that the star would have moved in a way that cannot be explained by a planetary conjunction. Another explanation is that the Star was a supernova, a very bright exploding star. While this would have produced a suitably bright Star, again there are objections:

It would not have moved in the manner described in the Gospel of Matthew. Additionally, there is no historical record of a supernova in or around the time of the birth of Jesus.

A supernova would certainly have been carefully documented by the astronomers and astrologers of the time.

Where does this leave us? Yet another theory draws on Greek astrology and the significance attached at the time to heliacal risings of Jupiter. This is when Jupiter reappears just before sunrise, having been hidden in the sun’s glare for several months.

On April 17 of 6 BC, a heliacal rising did occur, followed by a lunar occultation of Jupiter (the Moon obscures Jupiter) in the constellation Aries at noon of the same day. Greek astrologers would have attached huge importance to this event, and three of them may have seen it as a portent of the Messiah.

This still does not completely explain the Star of Bethlehem. And there are other theories, too numerous to mention here. The actual cause of the Star is lost in history and the speculation will doubtless continue. In the meantime, we can enjoy this year’s “Christmas Star” on December 21st !


Categories Parish Notices | Tags: | Posted on December 14, 2020

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