The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Bojoura - Everybody s Day

Some great music in the sixties without doubt. Thijs van Leer on flute, of course.

10 Beatles Tracks not recorded in Abbey Road

The Beatles famously recorded most of their material at Abbey Road Studios. However, several tracks were recorded elsewhere. Here are ten examples 
  1. January 29 1964 Pathe Marconi Studios, Paris: Can't Buy Me Love
  2. February 9 1967 Regent Sound Studio, London: Fixing A Hole
  3. May 11 1967 Olympic Sound Studios, Barnes, London: Baby You're A Rich Man
  4. May 25/26, June 2 1967 De Lane Lea Music Recording Studios, London: It's All Too Much
  5. August 22/23 1967 Chappell Recording Studios, London: Your Mother Should Know
  6. July 31, August 1/2 1968 Trident Studios, London: Hey Jude
  7. August 28-30 1968 Trident Studios, London: Dear Prudence
  8. January 28 1969 Apple Studios, London: Get Back
  9. January 30 1969 Apple Studios Roof, London: One After 909
  10. January 31 1969 Apple Studios, London: Two Of Us

Lord's Day October 17 2021

Somehow I almost forgot this bit. I decided for the mornings to back to an incomplete series on the Ten Commandments that I started back in February 2020 but dropped with the advent of the pandemic. In the evening I looked at another psalm, Psalm 30. We had communion before the evening service. A few newcomers have returned but plenty missing.

Two Days Off Week 42 2021

Sticking with this policy of taking two days off a month, I did that at the beginning of this last week. The way it worked out my wife had to be in Leamington Spa for the day so I joined her for the journey there and back and while she was in her Go Teach committee I wandered the streets of a town I have never visited before. It's a bit like Cheltenham, which was also a spa town. The museum was closed sadly and so, once it started raining, I hit the coffee shops. I did a lot of Bible reading and planning and read from a book I picked up recently on the year 1603 by Christopher Lee. Back here we watched some TV. I also took the next day off, again reading and walking but also watching an excellent docudrama from Denmark The Investigation. So whether this is a good idea or not I am not sure. When you are as lazy as I am, it is hard to assess. (Oh yeah, I forgot, I organised our evening meal for once on Tuesday night. Nothing special. I bought a pie).

Review of Pastoral for Pastors in the Current ET

It was good to see the very positive review by Jeff Haskins of my latest book in this month's ET

Every pastor should get a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed. However other people such as seminary students may also benefit from it; or perhaps someone reading through Paul’s pastoral letters could get this book and read it alongside the Bible.
The book suggests following its reading plan for 30 days and then starting over again. By doing this you would read through the pastoral letters twelve times a year.
Gary Brady writes with clarity and simplicity. I particularly like the way the biblical text is explained with lists and numbering. It means that his thoughts are easy to follow, and it also allows the reader to appreciate the biblical text. The book probably falls into the category of ‘devotional commentary’ but there is much more to glean.
Brady has incorporated many years of pastoral experience into the notes. There are stories to learn from, which preachers could also use as illustrations. The application of the text is very challenging and should stir the reader to take up that challenge. Other notes help shed light on biblical terms and phrases, even those we have become accustomed to.
People might be disappointed that the Bible passage is not included in the sections, but it is woven into the commentary. But perhaps it is better that way, so that the reader has their Bible next to them when reading the book.
Jeffrey Haskins

Midweek Meeting October 6, 13 and 20 2021

Somehow I have let three midweek meetings go by unremarked. We have been pursuing this theme of special, looking at the Lord's Day, the fact that when we come together as believers we do so to worship and the whole matter of revival. These are the last three in the series of eight. There are one or two other topics we could add but that will be enough for this series. We have continued to meet via zoom with all its advantages and disadvantages. As far as I recall attendance has been good and the prayer times fine. We have a visitor next tome so it's good to be up to date.

10 Alternative Titles for A Hard Day's Night

  1. Quatre garçons dans le vent (French Four boys in the wind)
  2. Vier jongens op rondreis (Flemish Four boys on a tour)
  3. Perný den (Czech Busy day)
  4. Erfiður dagur (Icelandic Tough day)
  5. Yeah! Yeah! Här kommer vi (Swedish Yeah! Yeah! Here we come)
  6. Yeah Yeah Yeah (German)
  7. Tutti per uno (Italian All for one)
  8. Os quatro Cabeleiras do Após-Calipso (Portuguese The four hairyheads of the Apocalypso)
  9. Gençlerin sevgilisi (Turkish Lover of young people)
  10. Os Reis do Ié-Ié-Ié (Brazil Portuguese The Kings of Yeah yeah yeah)

Day Off Week 41 2021

This week's day off was slightly disjointed. I read most of Mike Mellor's book on pathos in preaching Preaching the heart of God. Challenging and helpful. I also finished the book on the Beatles that I bought last week, listening to the Beatles. In the evening we went up to the seminary to hear Rico Tice give the Lloyd-Jones lecture. I'll try to report on that some other time.

Lord's Day October 10 2021

Last Lord's Day was a bit different in that I preached three times rather than two. In addition to my usual morning and evening preaching in the Childs Hill church I also preached for the Korean church that meets in our building in the afternoon. It was very kind of them to ask me and I was grateful for the warm welcome. I preached on Psalm 28 and someone had kindly chosen three appropriate hymns including a Fanny Crosby one that I didn't know,

A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord, a wonderful Saviour to me.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, where rivers of pleasure I see.

The words were up in English as well as Korean. There must have been about 70 present.
In the morning for my own people I preached on the final section of Luke 8 (Jairus's daughter and the woman with the issue of blood) and in the evening on Psalm 29, the thunderstorm psalm. We reached double figures on the evening and were a decent number in the morning though there were several missing. Our one Korean couple were there though I didn't get chance to speak to them. There was a lady from Mongolia present, which is a first for us. She was there with a man who gave me his name. I thought it meant death but he told me it means mortality. There's name to live with. We also had a visitor who normally goes to St Martin's in the Fields. She said our service was different. I don't think she had realised it could be done the way we do it.

Day Off Week 40 2021

This week's day off included a trip to Swiss Cottage on the bus where I picked up some bargains in a charity shop and The Works. I started reading the Jack Charlton autobiography and made a big dent. I have the Snow Goose and will pass it on. I enjoyed listening to one or two Beatles albums and reading along with the Beatles book.

Lord's Day October 3 2021

A new month so we began with communion. We then sang some harvest hymns and I preached from Psalm 104.Visitirs included a lady from Hong Kong and a man in need en route from Aylesbury to Folkestone. In the evening I took a text, Proverbs 28:13. It is a humdinger. We were a small number again in the evening but we had one visitor.

10 common ideas on things in the Bible that are not quite right

  1. In Exodus it does not say that the Egyptian chariots got stuck in the mud (Eg GOD looked down from the Pillar of Fire and Cloud on the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic. He clogged the wheels of their chariots; they were stuck in the mud.) Rather it says (Exodus 14:24, 25)  During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, "Let's get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt." 
  2. Joshua did not tell people to choose between God and idols. (Eg At the end of his speech Joshua told the people they would have to decide. They could keep the land if they chose to follow God’s leading and worship only Him. But they had to get rid of the idols. Then, every day, they must decide whom they would worship - the true God, or idols.) Rather he says (Joshua 24:15) But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
  3. In the Book of Judges Gideon is told to select his final 300 from the 10,000 by watching them drink water. Some give the idea that the 300 were wiser than the rest (Eg It's surprising, but only three hundred men got on their knees and drank from their hands.  All the rest looked silly drinking like dogs!). It would seem, however, that whatever the difference in styles the choice of the 300 was an arbitrary one. See Judges 7:4-6 But the LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go."  So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink."  Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. 
  4. Also in Judges we have the story of Samson and how the Philistine Delilah discovered his secret and so had his hair cut. It is sometimes said for brevity that she cut his hair (Eg That evening as Samson slept, Delilah cut his hair and called in the Philistines. The Philistine men were able to capture Samson.) but in fact she had a man to do it. See Judges 16:19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. 
  5. In I Samuel and the story of David and Goliath we read that David was offered the use of Saul's armour. It is sometimes said that he rejected its use because it was too big for him (Eg To help David out, Saul gave him his own armour to wear. David put the various parts of the armour on and tried walking a few steps. But he could hardly move! Saul was a big man, but David was just a kid. So David took off the armour). In fact the problem was that David was not used to the armour. See I Samuel 17:38, 39 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I am not used to them." So he took them off. 
  6. In the Gospels there is no reference to Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem on a donkey although that is often assumed (Eg We do not know the name or breed of the donkey that was used to carry Mary, who was pregnant at the time with Jesus. The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem could have taken 4-6 days by foot to cover the 120 km or 75 mile journey.) It was as likely to have been made by foot.
  7. In Luke 2 the angels appear to the shepherds. It is often said that they sang God's praise (Eg Suddenly, many angels appeared, singing praises to God “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!” ) but in Luke 2:13, 14 it simply says Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests." 
  8. In Matthew 2 the wisemen or Magi are spoken of. Often referred to as the three wise men or even three kings, no number is specified. (Eg Far away in the east, three wise kings had seen the beautiful star shining brightly over Bethlehem.) See Matthew 2:1, 2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."  They also did not visit Jesus the night he was born but some time later. There is no mention of them riding camels or where exactly they came from and certainly not their names.
  9. Did Paul change his name from Saul  after he was converted as some say? (Eg I take it, then, that the assumption of the name of Paul instead of the name of Saul occurred at this point, stood in some relation to his missionary work, and was intended in some sense as a memorial of his first victory in the preaching of the Gospel). In fact Paul or Saul always had two names, a Jewish one and a Roman one. It was his mission to the Gentiles that meant that he was increasingly referred to by his Roman name.
  10. In Revelation 2:4 Jesus does not say that the church in Ephesus had lost its first love. (Eg Ephesus had some unique challenges for a Christ-follower in that it was home to the Emperor’s cult and the worship of the Greek goddess Artemis (Acts 19:23-40). Because of these influences, the Ephesian believers had developed great discernment when it came to false teachers and heresy. Christ commended them for this discernment, but He faulted them for having lost their “first love.”) Rather, he says Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
(Bonuses: In II Kings we read of the passing of Elijah. It is widely held that Elijah ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire (Eg The hill to the east of the River Jordan opposite Jericho – believed to be the site from which Elijah was taken up to heaven on a chariot of fire – is known in Arabic as Tell Mar Elias (‘Elijah’s Hill’). Elijah’s dramatic departure is celebrated in the American gospel song ‘Swing low, sweet chariot’.) To be pedantic we should perhaps say he ascended in a whirlwind. See II Kings 2:11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
In Luke 15:10 Jesus does not say that the angels rejoice over one sinner who is saved. (Eg Angels rejoice when someone gets saved or a sinner repents and the angels rejoice). Rather, it says that In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents which given the wording and the parable there would suggest this is a reference to God rejoicing not just the angels.

Midweek Meeting September 29 2021


We had another special last Wednesday, looking this time at the matter of the call to the ministry. That could have probably been done better but we had a good time of prayer. All on zoom. (We had another meeting the next night a members meeting. It was good to have so many there.)

Day Off Week 39 2021


So there was the usual walking and coffee. I read a big chunk of Andrew Wilson's very readable God of all things which I really enjoyed. It is well written, slightly quirky (I loved the way he managed to slip in the invention of Bovril for example) and good biblical theology always heading for Christ. There were quite af ew things I'd never really picked up on such as the superiority of tools over weapons in God's economy. I also spent time catching up on notes for my daily Bible readings, which I'v egot rather behind on.

The Nightingale of Wittenberg


We had the first of our Autumn lectures in connection with the Evangelical Library on Monday. Dr Ian Densham, one of our trustees, gave an excellent lecture on Luther the Wittenberg Nightingale. The paper covered much of Luther's life but focussed on his love of music and his reforms in that area. Dr Densham showed both how radical and how conservative Lither was in his approach to this. He drew on a surprisingly large amount of secondary literature on the subject and referred positively also to audio programmes the BBC have produced on the subject such as this one here A square dance in heaven.

Lord's Day September 26 2021

This last Sunday of the month was a rather low turn out. We were not quote 30 in the morning and only 10 in the evening. Not sure why people were absent, although I know one person was in ill in bed and another in A & E. We had some zoom problems for the few listening in but got those sorted. We looked at the Gerasene demoniac in the morning and Psalm 28 in the evening. I hope it was all helpful. I managed to make up a word during my prayer in the morning - dwained. It is a sort of portmanteau word based on waned and dwindled.

Norman Wells

It was our privilege to be at the memorial service for Norman Wells today with about 300 others at IPC, Ealing. Norman died from Covid-19 rather suddenly in Spring last year. He was 56. A memorial service has only been possible now. We had helpful tributes from family and friends and Paul Levy preached helpfully from Psalm 73. It was lovely over tea afterwards to talk with old friends and one or two people I had not spoken with before. I knew Norman from his time in London Seminary and he would sometimes turn up in our services when en route from somewhere else. Norman's main work was with the Family Education Trust. It is clear that his thorough research and advocacy for the Christian view of the family never became theoretical but was lived out in his relationship with his wife Nicola and his nine children.

Midweek Meeting September 22 2021

We were on zoom once again as usual on Wednesday and we looked at another "special" subject - this time limited atonement or particular redemption, what we might call special atonement. We spent time in prayer too. We seemed to take to it better this week than last. These things do vary.

Day Off Week 38

What, another day off? Yes, I was off on Friday and Saturday and after two days I was off again as my general pattern is to take a day off every Tuesday. Having said that I actually spent a lot of time working on a paper I have to give before the end of the year. The introduction has been going round my head so it was easier to get it down. There were various other things like that and a coffee and a bit of TV.

Lord's Day September 19 2021

We had a good Sunday last week with a decent number in the morning and just under double figures in the evening. We also had communion in the evening. In the morning I preached on Jesus calming the storm from Luke 8 and in the evening from Psalm 27. I spoke to the children in the morning on the Book of Joshua and in the evening we looked at the next question and answer in the City Catechism, which we have gone back to now we have notice sheets. It is good to be in church and singing again.

Two Days Off Week 37

Two of my grandsons enjoying doughnuts at the wedding

There is an argument for saying not only that  a day off is good for a minister but that two consecutive days off a month can also help. I have tried that once before but it is hard to find time. This month I have been able to do that as we were at a wedding in Wales last Friday and then on the Saturday we went to a birthday bash in Wiltshire. In between we managed to meet up with family and friends. So the wedding was that of Eleri's cousin's daughter Anya to Luke Foxhall from Nantwich. That was a great day in Newport and Cardiff. We saw family there and the next day briefly. I also called in on my sister in Newport briefly as she was having a coffee morning and chatted to my oldest friend. The birthday was a postponed sixtieth for my former elder Robert Strivens in Holt, near Bradford on Avon. So two days of good food and lots of conversation.

New Thijs van Leer Album

I thought it unlikely that Thijs van Leer would have been doing nothing during the pandemic. His new album is out today. All in French, Parce que is a set of ten vocal numbers with piano and flute from the maestro. Downloaded it this morning and am enjoying it, though the vibe is more an evening than a morning one.

Midweek Meeting September 15 2021

This week we looked at another "special" topic. This time it was special people and the subject of election, one of those topics we need to come back to every now and again. The prayer time didn't flow so well but many prayed. We are still on zoom. Numbers were good, so good we split into two chat rooms at the end.

Lord's Day September 12 2021

We were a smaller number in the morning last Lords Day as I preached from Luke 8 again. We were on earthly loyalties and kingdom loyalties. Lots of Filipinos there, as we had some visitors and some returning regular congregation members. In the evening, I preached on Psalm 26. A good day then but there are still people you wonder where they are.

The History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland

I enjoyed reading this large and comprehensive volume by Gerald Bray which very helpfully covers the long history of Christianity in these islands. He is especially good on the early stuff. Much was familiar but some was new and it was good to see how it all joins up. I had not realised that scholars now say that Wycliffe did not translate the Bible. I did enjoy some of the etymological notes (eg sinecure, Dingwall, church ales).
Really speaking it is an Anglican history and few opportunities are missed to downplay what is not of that ilk. Hence the Great Ejection involved 1000 not 2000 men, William Carey was not the big deal we all thought he was and as for Andrew Fuller - not worth a mention. The scholarship immense, the jokes few and far between, the thing mostly rattles along but there are some dull moments too. Inevitably just as Homer nodded so there are slips. To say that the 1859 revival in Wales mainly affected the Welsh speaking areas is rather redundant as at that time that was most of Wales. Whoever told Mr Bray that Dr Lloyd-Jones' first name was Dafydd rather misled him. It was David. I'm sure the Protestant Truth Society will be disappointed to learn from p 517 that almost nothing has been heard from (or about) them since 1982.

Midweek Meeting September 8 2021

There was some confusion last Wednesday evening. One of our members had arranged for someone to speak to us on Sunday evening via Zoom but we are live in person again now so I asked about doing it on a Wednesday night when we are still on zoom. I'd thought that was the plan then and enjoyed a little more free time on Wednesday but in the end I had not read my whatsapp messages properly and there was no outside speaker. I had prepared to read Psalm 20 by way if introduction and so I just read it and gave a little more time to expound it (the Psalm has seven petitions and then some closing material). Anyway we had plenty of time to gather items for prayer and then pray too so it worked put okay in God's providence.

Day Off Week 36 2021

Last Tuesday was a lovely hot day and so I put on a flowery t shirt and shorts and made the most of it walking and reading in the garden. (Someone gave me the new Stephen King Billy Summers which one can't really recommend but that is well written and interesting all the way). I also found time for a bit of TV (an old police drama series on catch up The Commander).

Lord's Day September 5 2021

We began the Lord's Day with communion We were not too many but the main services were quite full am (c 35) and pm (c 15). We were very international in the morning with Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ghana, Iran, Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, The Philippines and S Africa all represented. (I was sorry not to get opportunity to chat with the man from Afghanistan who I have not seen in a while). These were all familiar faces to some extent and one of our families also had relatives we know visiting. I preached on Luke 18:16-18 in the morning and Psalm 25 in the evening and although they weren't bad homiletically I felt they lacked something somehow. Preaching is a strange thing in some ways. We never get the full picture. At the end of the morning meeting I had a long chat with an Iranian whose English is limited explaining why I wouldn't baptise his young daughter.

Celebrating a fiftieth wedding anniversary

A Nigerian couple in membership at the church are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary and we were kindly invited to a celebration in a nearby Chinese Restaurant. They have seven children so we were a good number. (The other week another couple celebrated 40 hears of marriage. We are on a mere 33).

Midweek Meeting September 1 2021

We were on Zoom again for our meeting last Wednesday. We looked at another of these Special subjects - the fact that human beings are a special species, with an emphasis on the fact that we are made in God's image. We were not that many but we had a good time of prayer.

Lord's Day August 29 2021

It was good to be back in Childs Hill for both services. We had a good number in the morning and not a bad one in the evening. In the morning it was nice to meet plenty of old friends and some new ones from Eritrea and Malaysia. In the afternoon my niece came for tea with a friend who is a worker in a church in Harpenden. They joined us at the evening meeting. Also in the evening a fellow turned up towards the end in need. We have met him before. I preached one offs from the end of Matthew 7 and on various passages on the subject of providence in conversion.

10 Random Bible Interpretation Decisions

  1. Genesis. It was right that Joseph revealed his dreams. It makes more sense to see him as good. This is why his father, Jacob, favoured him.
  2. Job. Job had only ten more after his recovery and only the girls are named. Job is given ten more children not twenty because he still had ten in heaven. The girls are named against convention in order to underline that tradition is not always correct.
  3. Song of Songs, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes. There is nothing wrong with the traditional view that Solomon wrote the first as a young man, the last as an old man and the bulk of the middle one throughout his life.
  4. Proverbs 31 is not a mere appendix about what to look for in a wife but the climax of the call to the son by his father to marry wisdom. This wisdom points to Christ, the wisdom of God. We must marry the Bride Christ (as well as the Bridegroom as is taught elsewhere).
  5. 2 Kings. Elisha's request to Elijah for a double portion and why it was a hard thing to give is to do with the fact that a double portion is the eldest son's portion. When Elijah says he has asked for a hard thing it is not that it is hard for that to be done but being the eldest son involves great responsibility. For Christ it meant death on the cross.
  6. John 14. When Jesus speaks about going to prepare a place for his disciples he is referring chiefly to the work he is about to do on the cross. It is by this means that believers can enter heaven.
  7. Acts 16 says that the jailer was baptised along with his household. It is most likely that this reference is to all the other prisoners who also believed.
  8. Romans 14:22, 23 makes clear that faith resides in the conscience, which is the soul in its moral workings.
  9. 1 Corinthians 11:14 speaks of  long hair as a shame to a  man. Paul is probably being ironic here as he let his hair grow throughout the 18 months he was in Corinth planting the church.
  10. Revelation 20:3. How to understand the thousand years and the short time is difficult and there are various views. Those who rightly take it to refer to the period from Christ's first coming to his second still allow a short time at the end when Satan is again set free. It is better to take the thousand years and the short time to run conjointly. In one sense the period is like a thousand years of Satan bound but, in another sense, it is like a short time when Satan is free.

Joseph Parry Aberystwyth Aberystwyth


Another plaque I have noticed this time round is the one to Joseph Parry (1841– 903) the Welsh composer and musician. Born in Merthyr Tydfil, he is best known as the composer of "Myfanwy" and the hymn tune "Aberystwyth" (see below), on which the African song "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" is said to be based. Parry was also the first Welshman to compose an opera; his composition, Blodwen, was the first opera in the Welsh language.
Born into a large family, Parry left school to work in the local coal mines when he was nine years of age. He then went to work at the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, where his father was also employed. In 1854 the family emigrated to the USA, settling at Danville, Pennsylvania, where Parry again found employment at an iron works.
Though Parry had a great interest in music, he had no opportunity to study it until there was a temporary closure of the Rough and Ready Iron Works. Some of his co-workers were also musicians, and they offered music lessons while the iron works was closed. Parry joined a music sight-reading class taught by one of the men. He continued to study harmony with another co-worker, and learned how to read and write while he was learning about harmony.
He soon began submitting compositions to eisteddfodau in Wales and the USA and winning awards. During a return visit to Wales for the National Eisteddfod at Llandudno, Parry was offered two music scholarships, but was unable to accept due to family obligations. A fund was established for the support of Parry and his family while he studied music.
He went on to receive a Doctorate in Music from the University of Cambridge; he was the first Welshman to receive Bachelor's and Doctor's degrees in music from the University. He returned to Wales in 1874 to become the first Professor of Music at Aberystwyth University, later accepting a position at Cardiff University.
Aberystwyth was first published in 1879 by Stephen and Jones in Ail Lyfr Tonau ac Emynau English tr. Second Book of Tunes and Hymns). It was paired with Charles Wesley's words, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul", and first sung at the English Congregational Church in Portland Street, Aberystwyth, where Parry worked as an organist.
(Enoch Sontonga worked in a Methodist mission school near Johannesburg. Sontonga, like Parry, was a choirmaster; in 1897, he set new words to Parry's music and called the hymn Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika. Welsh missionaries often brought various copies of hymnals to their African missions; it is believed Parry's hymn reached Africa in this manner. While Sontonga wrote only one stanza of lyrics and a chorus for the song, Samuel Mqhayi composed seven more stanzas in 1927. The song became the national anthem of South Africa and four other African nations.)

T H Parry-Williams Aberystwyth

I seem to be noticing more plaques in Aber than  normal. This one is for Sir Thomas Herbert Parry-Williams (1887- 1975). Parry-Williams was a poet, author and academic. Born at Tŷ'r Ysgol (the Schoolhouse) in Rhyd Ddu, Caernarfonshire, he was educated at the UCW, Aberystwyth, Jesus College, Oxford, the University of Freiburg and the Sorbonne. As a poet, he was the first to win the double of Chair and Crown at the National Eisteddfod, which he achieved at Wrexham in 1912 and repeated at Bangor, 1915. He was a conscientious objector in World War. I He was Professor of Welsh at Aberystwyth, 1920-1952. He co-founded the university's Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. He was awarded D.Litt. degrees by the Universities of Wales (1934) and Oxford (1937) and was knighted in 1958. He was also given an honorary doctorate by the University of Wales 1960 and made an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, 1968.

Lord's Day Aberystwyth August 22 2021

It was my privilege yesterday to be listening rather than preaching. We were listening to my son, Rhodri, in Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth. Numbers are limited at the moment and the congregation was scattered across the building. He preached from Ezekiel 18 in the morning and that great text Zephaniah 3:17 in the evening. How good to hear your own son preach the Word faithfully. It was nice to chat with people outside afterwards. The services can be found here.

Lewis Edwards Penllwyn

This statue is raised in remembrance and to honour the Reverend Lewis Edwards M.A. D.D.
Founder and head of the first Bala College 1837-1887 and 
who taught the Welsh people as a literary man and Minister of God, the gospel born Pwllcenawon Penllwyn 27 October 1809 Died Bala 19 July 1887

We have been on holiday in the Aberystwyth area and more than once we have been through Capel Bangor or Penllwyn where in the chapel grounds there is a bust of Lewis Edwards (1809–1887) who was born in the village and became an important educator and Nonconformist minister.
He was the eldest son of Lewis and Margaret Edward and was educated in Aberystwyth and Llangeitho. He ran schools in both these places then became private tutor to a family in Meidrim, Carmarthenshire. He had preached for the Calvinistic Methodists and, in 1829, was accepted as a regular preacher by the Calvinistic Methodist congregation at Llangeitho. In 1830 he was accepted for study at the Seceders' College, Belfast, but chose instead to study in London, at a college which later became University College. After a year in London he became a minister and schoolteacher in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire. In 1833 he went to Edinburgh University, where he studied under Thomas Chalmers and Christopher North. By a special dispensation he graduated after three years instead of the usual four, obtaining an MA with honours. He was awarded an honorary DD by the University of Edinburgh in 1865.
He was now better able to further his plans for providing a trained ministry for his church. Previously, Calvinistic Methodist preachers had relied on their natural gifts. Edwards made his home at Bala, and there, in 1837, with David Charles, his brother-in-law, he opened a school, which ultimately, as Bala College, became the denominational college for north Wales.
In 1836 he married Jane Charles, granddaughter of Thomas Charles (1755–1814). Their son Thomas Charles Edwards became the first principal of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.
He died on 19 July 1887, and was buried in Llanycil churchyard near the grave of his grandfather-in-law Thomas Charles.
Edwards may fairly be called one of the makers of modern Wales. Through his hands passed generation after generation of preachers, who carried his influence to every corner of Wales. By fostering competitive meetings and by his writings, especially in Y Traethodydd, a quarterly magazine which he founded in 1845 and edited for 10 years, he did much to inform and educate his countrymen on literary and theological subjects. A new college was built at Bala in 1867, for which he raised £10,000. His chief publication was a noteworthy book on the doctrine of the Atonement, cast in the form of a dialogue between master and pupil; the treatment is forensic, and emphasis is laid on merit. It was due to him that the North and South Wales Calvinistic Methodist Associations united to form an annual General Assembly; he was its moderator in 1866 and again in 1876. He was successful in bringing the various churches of the Presbyterian order into closer touch with each other, and unwearying in his efforts to promote education for his countrymen.

Lord's Day N Ireland August 15 2021


Last Lord's Day was a little different as we were away from home and staying with others. We had also decided to fly back to the mainland from N Ireland that evening. In the end we joined the Portadown Elim congregation online in the morning with four others. This was not quite what we are used to, although Mount Pleasant the week before had prepared us. The sermon was from a member called Ken Henning, an MBE and former police chief, who preached helpfully from 1 Corinthians 13. We should have been better organised and set up to watch something in the evening but failed there and so I found myself buying my wife perfume not something I often do, especially on the Lord's Day! We flew frm Belfast to Cardiff and then drove on to a holiday place near Aber. One sad aspect to the day was to know I was so near Richhill EPC and not be able to attend.

Wedding In N Ireland


It was a great joy the other Saturday for my wife and I to be in N Ireland for the wedding of my niece Dominique to Nick Williamson. Nick's parents very kindly looked after us while we were there and the wedding itself was a blessing. First time I'd been at a wedding in the open air. There was rain at certain points but not during the ceremony and we were treated very well. Great day. The wedding was in Ballyard's Castle, a Christian Conference Centre belonging to the charity Drop Inn. See here.

10 Nants

As we travel about in Wales we see a lot of places whose names begin with Nant-. Here are ten examples.
  1. Nantyrarian, Brecknockshire (Silverbrook)
  2. Nant-y-Bwch, Brecknockshire (Cowbrook)
  3. Nantddu, Brecknockshire (Blackbrook)
  4. Nantyglo, Monmouthshire (Coalbrook)
  5. Nantmel, Radnorshire (Honeybrook)
  6. Nantglas, Radnorshire (Bluebrook)
  7. Nant Mawr, Flintshire (Greatbrook)
  8. Nantycaws, Carmarthenshire (Cheesebrook)
  9. Nant-y-ffin, Carmarthenshire (Borderbrook)
  10. Nant-y-felin, Caernarfonshire (Millbrook)

Shelley in Cwm Elan

As mentioned our holiday moved on next to Rhaeadr near the Elan Valley, where we saw the above statue in memory of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Shelley was born in Sussex in August 1792. The son of lawyer and MP Timothy Shelley, who in 1815 became a baronet, the poet would have inherited the title and estate had he lived longer. Despite a traditional ‘establishment’ background, young Shelley saw himself as a revolutionary, an idealist who was quite unrealistic and impractical. He was called "mad Shelley" by schoolmates.
He went to Oxford University in October 1810, when he was engaged to Harriet Grove, relative of his uncle Thomas Grove, owner of Cwm Elan, a large mansion later lost when the Elan Valley was flooded to create reservoirs. Their engagement was brief, however, largely because of Shelley’s writings against religious belief, which also resulted in expulsion from Oxford after only six months.
The future poet then went to London, where he met another Harriet, Harriet Westbrook, daughter of an inn-keeper. In July 1811, when Shelley was almost 19, he was invited by his uncle to stay at Cwm Elan. He chose to walk to mid-Wales all the way from the family estate in Sussex.
Whilst in Wales he was greatly impressed by the wild and romantic surroundings
"Rocks piled on each other to tremendous heights, rivers formed into cataracts by their projections, and valleys clothed with woods, present an appearance of enchantment."
"This country is highly romantic; here are rocks of uncommon height and picturesque waterfalls. I am more astonished at the grandeur of the scenery than I expected."
"...I am not wholly uninfluenced by its magic on my lonely walks."
Some brief reflections on Shelley at Cwm Elan were recorded in 1878 by an old woman who had delivered the post to Grove’s mansion
"He was a very strange gentleman. On weekdays he wore a little cap and had his neck bare, but on Sundays, donning a tall hat, he would go with the family to church". He was said to be "full of fun" and "he loved to sail in the rapid mountain streams a wooden boat about a foot in length, and would run along the bank, using a pole to direct his craft, and keep it from shipwreck on the rocks".
This lady also remembered that Shelley once put a rather reluctant cat on board his little boat!
Shelley received a letter from Harriet Westbrook while at Cwm Elan, in August 1811, that prompted him to rush back to London to see her. The young couple, aged just 19 and 16, promptly eloped and married in Edinburgh. They went to Dublin for a while, where Shelley distributed revolutionary pamphlets, then returned in April 1812. His fondness for Cwm Elan led the couple to a search for a house in Wales, as Harriet wrote in a letter on their return from Ireland:
"Strange as it may appear, we have been all through North Wales to find a house, but not one presented itself..."
Despite their wide-ranging search, it is curious that they should set their heart on the manor house of Nantgwyllt, only about a mile and a half from Grove’s house. The newly married couple moved into the large house, but their hopes of acquiring the property would fail. Harriet wrote fondly of Nantgwyllt in April, 1812 "The beauty of this place is not to be described. It is quite an old family house, with a farm of 200 acres meadow-land."
Just a day or two later, Shelley wrote in a letter:
"The house is not yet our own, although we reside here, but will be so in the course of a month. ...This house is large, it will contain seven bedrooms. ...We are now embosomed in the solitude of mountains, woods and rivers - silent, solitary, and old: far from any town; six miles from Rhayader, which is the nearest. A ghost haunts this house, which has frequently been seen by the servants."
On the April 25 1812, he wrote:
"We are not yet completely certain of being able to obtain the house where now we are. The cheapness, beauty, and retirement, make this place in every view desirable. .... mountains and rocks seeming to form a barrier round this quiet valley, which the tumult of the world may never overleap."
In a letter requesting help in securing the property, he wrote that "so eligible an opportunity for settling in a cheap, retired, romantic spot will scarcely occur again".
By the beginning of June 1812 their hopes of acquiring Nantgwyllt had collapsed. Shelley wrote on June 6 "Nantgwyllt is not ours, nor will it be". The following day, his wife wrote "you may imagine our sorrow at leaving so desirable a spot, where every beauty seems centred ...."
With the ending of their hopes at Nantgwyllt they went to stay for a few days at Cwm Elan, then left, never to return. It is clear that they were very happy together at the house which they had hoped to make their home but sadly only for a very short time in the spring and early summer of 1812. Shelley was to abandon his young wife after just two years to live with Mary Godwin. Harriet, desperately unhappy and alone, drowned herself in the Serpentine, Hyde Park, in 1816.
Shelley, by the time of his death an acclaimed lyric poet, was drowned sailing offshore in Tuscany on July 8 1822. His body was recovered and he was cremated on the beach. Many have noted the strange connections with water in Shelley’s life.
In 1937 the water level in Caban Coch reservoir fell to 55 feet below its highest point, and the remains of the manor house of Nantgwyllt were exposed. Thousands came to see this rare sight, repeated in 1947 when another record drought caused the level to drop dramatically.
Although many believed that the house was intact when the site was submerged, only the garden walls and a pile of rubble revealed the location of the house of which Shelley had been so fond

Robert Jermain Thomas Rhaeadr

Our holiday is continuing in Rhaeadr, Mid-Wales, and the party has now swollen from three to fifteen (all our children and grandchildren are here). We are opposite the house where Robert J Thomas was born.
Robert Jermain Thomas (1839-1866) was a missionary who served with the London Missionary Society in China and Korea. While a missionary to China, he developed a strong desire to work among the Koreans. Korea was then closed to foreigners because the government feared of foreign influence. (Roman Catholic priests had seen many converts in the late eighteenth century but 8,000 had been killed by the government.)
Thomas made his first visit to the Korean coast in 1865, making him the second known Protestant missionary (Karl Gutzlaff, a German Protestant missionary, was first. He visited in 1832 and distributed Chinese Bibles). Thomas learned as much as he could about the people and their language during his two and a half months there, distributing Chinese tracts and NTs as they were not available in Korean.
During this first visit, he kept a diary of which the following are the entries for 3 and 4 November 1865.
Nov. 3 This morning half-a-dozen junkmen went ashore to catch shell fish, on which three of them were cruelly beaten about the legs by a score of cowardly islanders. Our little fleet of nine junks was in a state of high indignation. We could send fifty men to fight. In their own fashion they immediately loaded their rusty matchlocks and small guns with powder only! And taking to their sampons, flying their respective flags, amidst great beating of gongs, made for the village. All the islanders were congregated like a flock of white sheep on the top of the hill. Two or three of the fiercer ones were going through all kinds of warlike manoeuvres on a near cliff. Steadily our flotilla advanced, firing volley after volley of power—the more prudent one fire about five hundred yards from the village. Two of the most daring boats advanced towards the shore, where, by this time, many of those from the hill had collected themselves and were engaged very vigorously in pelting stones; nothing daunted, these two boats seized a small junk lying off the beach, in a trice they had lifted the anchor, and amidst great acclamations brought away their prize. It is a small tub and will be given up tomorrow.
Nov. 4 Yesterday, stormy. Today two islanders fixed a small stick in the ground at low water with a piece of paper attached to it. I sent my writer for it; the following is a free translation:--"This for all to see. You are engaged in a contraband trade, a trade severely punished by our respective countries. Your vessels that come here are too much given to disturbances. You have been here already ten days. You have dared to cut wood on a sacred islet with a temple on it, rendering us liable to tempests. Your guilt is very great indeed. As we have none who after the wood, you have taken it in a thievish manner. You are all a set of thieves. You indeed are a desperate set. One of our military officials will come with a thousand men, who will do battle with you and slay you. But now we are willing to make it up and not report it. You must believe this document. The other day you snatched away a vessel; you must return it, and then we will not entertain hostile feelings toward you. Be quick, be quick."
In 1866, he was asked to join the French Naval force as an interpreter to go to Korea as a part of an invading party. However, they went to Vietnam so he took a job as an interpreter on an armed American trading ship, General Sherman. He persuaded the captain to sail to Pyongyang to establish trade between the USA and Korea, even though uninvited trade was forbidden. His personal motivation was to spread the gospel in Korea.
The General Sherman set sail on 9 August 1866 and was first spotted at the mouth of the Taedong River on 16 August. As the ship sailed up the river loaded with cotton goods, tin and glass, Thomas tossed gospel tracts onto the riverbank. Korean officials repeatedly ordered the American boat to leave immediately. On or around 25 August, the crew kidnapped Hyon-Ik Yi, a Korean government official, who was in charge of communications with the ship. An ex-military officer, Chun-Gwon Park, eventually managed to rescue Yi and reinstated him to his former position. However, Yi's two subordinates, Soon-Won Yoo and Chi-Young Park, who had also been taken hostage, perished during the scuffles. On 31 August, the crew of General Sherman fired cannons and guns at the nearby civilians, resulting in 7 deaths and 5 wounded. Both the Korean government and the early Korean Christian community agreed that it was the General Sherman that had initiated hostilities. Governor Gyu-Su Park of Pyong-An Province finally declared the General Sherman an enemy vessel and ordered his troops to prepare for battle.
When the General Sherman ran aground on a mud-bank near Pyongyang, the Koreans saw their opportunity and attacked. The crew held them off for two days. Eventually, the Koreans launched a burning boat, which set the General Sherman on fire. Among the crew, 14 were shot and killed (including one who had been shot to death two days before), four were burnt to death and two who had jumped to shore were beaten to death by angry civilians on the shore. One of these, apparently, was Thomas.
Other accounts of his death have been given. The first claim appeared on Oh Mun-hwan's "Christian News" article of 8 December 1926, reporting that Thomas was killed in retribution by the relatives of those killed by the crew of the General Sherman. The same article cites a statement from Rev. Lee Jae Bong, a minister in Southern province (1000 miles away). He had a distant relative who happened to be a soldier present during the General Sherman incident. This veteran said that one of the crew being executed by sword had a red book which he begged the soldiers to take. Oh concluded that this must have been Thomas. A year later, this account had evolved to state that Thomas tried to hand his Bible to the executioner and that this soldier later told his family that he had killed a good man ("Korea Mission Field," Sept. 1927). Others claimed that Thomas's executioner was none other than Chun-Gwon Park, who had previously rescued the government official, Hyon-Ik Yi.
The Korean official report of the incident clearly states Thomas was killed by civilians, not Park. This is corroborated by Oh Mun-Hwan's 1926 article. In another account, Thomas leapt to shore carrying a Bible, which he offered to his attackers crying, "Jesus, Jesus!" in Korean. This account was also rebutted by others who stated Thomas was waving the official signet of Hyon-Ik Yi which had probably been taken from him when he was kidnapped. Yi was later demoted for losing an important official signet.
"One government official named Pak Yong-Sik who took home some of the Bibles thrown onto the river bank, used them to wallpaper rooms in his house, so people were able to read the gospel there for themselves." This was discovered by the local Christian community in early 1900s, and people came from all over to read the words on his walls. Eventually, a church was established in the area. Certainly, Thomas's influence grew after his death. Only 15 years later, Pyongyang had become a strong Christian centre with a hundred churches.
Thomas was married to Caroline Godfrey during the years of 1863–1865. She died of a miscarriage only four months after their arrival in Shanghai, China.

Lord's Day in Swansea August 8 2021

We are on holiday at the moment - in Wales, of course. We decided to start in Swansea and stayed (the three of us) in a nice studio flat near the marina for the weekend. There are many places we could go to church in Swansea but we decided on Mount Pleasant in the morning and Ebenezer in the evening. Both are Baptist churches. Way back Mount was English speaking and Ebenezer Welsh speaking but now the difference is more to do with conservative and less conservative approaches. We needed to register for both services.
We went to Mount in the morning which was having its first in person meeting without social distancing. As we expected there was a small band up front leading worship and a number of participants. Tom Martyn preached the sermon from John 19 informing us all that Jesus has died to save us and now we need to trust in him. There was a golden moment when Spurgeon was quoted saying that the cross teaches us to honour him who in "his direst agony thought of her needs and griefs, (Mary's) as he also thinks of all his people, for these are his mother and sister and brother." It was nice to chat with people after on the large pavement outside the building.
The minister, Steve Levy, was away but we were able to catch up with him in the evening briefly. In the evening one of the elders (Dave Evans) was preaching. He took us to the phrase in Psalm 32 in whose spirit there is no deceit. Ebenezer were still socially distancing and had a smaller congregation in a bigger building. Their pastor (Graham John) was also away. Again it was good to chat briefly with one or two we know. The services can be accessed on Youtube at these places.

Midweek Meeting August 4 2021

For my last midweek meeting before leaving for holiday I decided to do something a little different. I have a series I am working on about things that are special and I thought I might do the first of these on the fact that the earth is special. It is the Goldilocks planet as it has been put. We were very few. It was on Zoom.

Lord's Day August 1 2021


My final sermons before going away were in person at the chapel. We began with communion in the morning and then I preached the next in the series from Luke. In the evening we were down to single figures in the church itself  and I did a one off from a great text. What  privilege to preach God's Word!

Midweek Meeting July 28 2021

Another fine prayer meeting and Bible Study on zoom again last week and with good numbers. We came to the end of 1 Timothy. Good timing as I am away soon, although I will take the meeting on August 4.

Yes they really do

Sometimes you are told that people say a certain thing and you wonder if they really do. Yesterday in TableTalk Magazine in comments on 1 Corinthians 16:15-18 it actually does say this (italics mine).

We cannot be sure of who made up Stephanas’ household, but there may be here an indirect reference to infant baptism. The infants would have been baptized along with the rest of the household if, in fact, there were infants in the household (see 1 Cor 1:16). In any case, it is worth noting that some commentators believe that Stephanas and his household played a key role in establishing the church in Corinth and that Stephanas may have been an early leader there given the way Paul speaks about them as those who “devoted themselves to the service of the saints” (16:15).

Day Off

If you are wondering what has happened to these - it has been busy with visitors and this week some travelling and so a regular day off has not been possible. I'm not overworking, however, I'm sure. My main reason for writing about days off is to encourage younger men in the ministry to try to have a day off.