Parish News From The Pews

Helping us to keep our faith, keep in touch and be charitable through the pandemic.

If you have anything to share, you are welcome to either write via the church office or email to sg.olstwerburgh.clayton@rcaob.org.uk. Please include your contact details when you email us.

2020

December

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY - We Three Kings sung by Ella Fitzgerald

06/01/2021

A wonderful version of the carol by perhaps the finest female singer of the last century. Some religious/music purists feel that the carol should not be sung until the Kings are 'almost there.' The video which accompanies Ella's version should appeal to everyone of all ages. On a personal note, this carol has been included at the request of Adam Grannell, whose development of the parish website has been really uplifting. As this is the last carol on the eve of the Epiphany, I am including a picture of the procession in our living-room at home. It has become a big thing as the Kings make their way across the floor of our room picking up family favourites on the way.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6WWX3-rLvQ

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY - Good King Wenceslaus sung by Irish Rovers

26/12/2020

The feast of St Stephen, among many other things, the Patron Saint of Altar Servers, means many things to us. To me it was football, initially playing and then watching, but the light-hearted version by a group of musicians whose roots are in Ireland both North and South, Scotland and Canada sums up the more relaxed mood of the day after the build-up to Christmas.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMmxhhfQw0c

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY - List Our Merry Carol sung by Petula Clark

25/12/2020

This is my most personal carol on the list, and probably the least well-known. As we used to leave the sanctuary after Midnight Mass in my home parish church, the choir always sang this carol. The older altar boys then ate mince pies in the presbytery before walking home in the early hours. On our way home we passed the street where the singer was born, who would later announce in an unmistakable accent "It's Christmas" in one of the most well-known Christmas songs of all-time. The song is not widely available, and this version on an EP by Petula Clark is the best we could find.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvVQZbIlbnM

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY - O Little Town of Bethlehem sung by Elvis Presley

24/12/2020

Elvis like Baby Jesus is a Capricorn, so to speak. A country boy brought up on gospel music in Tupelo, Mississippi, he became the most charismatic performer of the 20th century. He is often judged by the mediocre to woeful standard of the later films, but the richness of his voice and excitement generated in his live performance makes him a unique talent in music.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvOluzGeCwA

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY - While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night sung by Bobby Darin

23/12/2020

Like many musical giants of the 20th century, Bobby Darin died young at the age of 37 on account of heart problems. A consummate performer, whose catalogue is full of different styles of music. If you don't know his work, listen to 'Beyond the Sea,' his version of the French song, La Mer.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C8E6etrqSA

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY - Once in Royal David's City sung by Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra

22/12/2020

The Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah, seats 3500, the choir numbers 360 and the orchestra 85 (from a 'squad' of 200+.) Modestly all the performers are called 'volunteers,' but their performance matches any professional rendering of this favourite carol.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOMywz3cz2k

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY - Silent Night sung by Everly Brothers with Boys' Town Choir

21/12/2020

I first saw Don & Phil live in 1960, and we were fortunate as a family to see them together on their last tour in 2005. Their harmonies are sublime, and in a recent documentary, both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who were inspired by the Everlys, admitted that they did their best, but they just could not match the sibling harmonies of the Brothers.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL_FBxuGf0I

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY - Adeste Fideles sung by Nat King Cole

20/12/2020

Everyone has their preferred version of this carol, either Latin or English. The origins are disputed but the earliest published version dates from 1751. This gives you all the best of both worlds with both Latin and English in the performance, and the bonus is that the singer is probably the best pianist/vocalist of the second half of the 20th century.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ6vU29PpOw

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A Christmas Star for 2020

20/12/2020

Matthew 2:1-2 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

We are all very familiar with the story of the Magi following a star to the place where Jesus was born in Bethlehem. We will be able to see a Christmas Star this year when the two largest planets, Saturn and Jupiter will be just 0.1 degrees apart or one fifth of the diameter of the full moon on 21st December. The two planets, together, will look like a “double planet” and will produce a significant amount of light.

The meeting of these two planets only takes place once every 20 years. It is known as a Great Conjunction, and what is making this one so particularly memorable is that the planets will appear to be closer to each other than at any time since 16 July 1623.

The planets are already close together in the sky, having been inching towards each other since the autumn. It will be worth watching them over the next couple of nights to see them make their final approach. They will be joined by a beautiful waxing crescent moon with just 11% of its surface illuminated.

Look out for the spectacular sight in the South Western Sky after sunset. We pray that this sight will fill us with hope for the weeks and month ahead as we battle against the pandemic with the new vaccine.

You can find more information at the website of the Royal Astronomical Society at https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas Wishes from parishioners

20/12/2020

Wishing Fr Anton and all my friends in the Parish a very happy Christmas, and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year, with lots of love and God bless,
Cath Bagnall xxx

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas Wishes from parishioners

20/12/2020

Sending our very best wishes to Fr. Anton, and our friends and fellow parishioners for a wonderful Christmas filled with every happiness and many blessings.  Wishing you all good health and happiness throughout the coming new year. God bless, and lots of love from Patricia, Gerard and Family xxx
Patricia and Gerard Whitehurst

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas Crackers!

20/12/2020

Father Christmas was the special phone-in guest on BBC Radio 5-live on Friday morning. In case you missed it, he gave the young callers the following information:

  1. He has had his vaccination against Corona Virus but he said he is never ill because his blood is full of ‘Santa-bodies’. I wondered whether Rudolph has Antler-bodies.
  2. If children would like to leave out hand sanitiser on Christmas Eve, he will use it, but he usually carries his own ‘Santa-tiser’.

Let’s hope that there is no elf-isolating going on in Lapland and all the presents are ready in time for delivery. He also said “The most important thing this Christmas is not what is under the tree but who is around it!” I agree!

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY - Mary's Boy Child by Harry Belafonte

19/12/2020

My parents bought a radiogram (if this is a new word, google it) in 1957, and one of the first records we bought at 78 rpm was Mary's Boy Child by Harry Belafonte, who became one of the leading figures in the Civil Rights movement in the USA. Originally written as a song, it is now regarded as a carol, and some will remember Boney M reviving it and taking it to the top of the charts in 1978.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIeidmh_C0o

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A CAROL-A-DAY

18/12/2020

Music at Christmas is special, even if some of us get fed up with the same festive songs blaring out everywhere in a normal year. We would like you to join us for a CAROL-A-DAY in the lead up to Christmas. Most of the carols are well-known, but the performers may be new to you. We have a 1974 jukebox at home, and at this time we have a seasonal selection of our favourite 100 Christmas songs and carols. So if you look in tomorrow, click on the youtube link, make sure the sound is on, why not sing along with the carol?

Contact North Staffs LinkLine

LinkLine

13/12/2020

If you know of anyone living alone who might not have access to the internet, if you are able, please print them a copy of the church newsletters.

Supporting Our Local Foodbank

Our Food Bank Collection - Sunday 20th December

13/12/2020

Newcastle’s foodbank is part of a nationwide network supported by The Trussell Trust, working to combat poverty and hunger across the UK. Our local branch is a project founded by local churches and community groups to support local people in need.

When clients visit the food bank centre, the volunteers offer a safe space to listen and try to understand whether they would like further information that may support them to tackle their problems. The clients are provided with three days worth of nutritionally balanced emergency food. The reasons why people need support from the foodbank range from redundancy to receiving an unexpected expense on low income. The pandemic has left many families in difficult circumstances this year. A simple box of food makes a big difference. Foodbanks work with a range of professionals such as doctors, health visitors, police and schools to identify people in crisis. These professionals issue them with a voucher to take along to their local foodbank. Any donation you can make on Sunday 20th December will be very gratefully received.

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas Crackers!

13/12/2020

Did you hear that production was down at Santa’s Workshop?
Many of his workers had to ‘elf isolate.

Why are Santa’s reindeer allowed to travel on Christmas Eve?
They have herd immunity.

Why wasn’t Rudolph allowed to take part in the vaccine trials?
They only wanted guinea pigs.

How can you get out of talking to your boss at the Christmas party this year?
Put him on mute.

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas in Spain

13/12/2020

Between December 24th and January 6th, Spain comes alive to celebrate Christmas, or Navidad in Spanish.

Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena in Spanish, is generally a family affair involving a big meal together. For devout Catholics, after dinner it’s time to go to a special midnight mass called the Misa del Gallo. Church-goers celebrate the birth of the Son of God by singing famous and traditional Christmas carols accompanied by guitars, hand drums, and tambourines.

Children in Spain traditionally had to wait until the feast of the Epiphany to receive their presents but since globalisation, in many homes, on Christmas Eve Santa Claus or Papá Noel, brings gifts to all the children who have been good during the year. Some regions of Spain have their own traditions: in the Basque Country, it’s Olentzero who leaves the gifts, while children from Cataluña and Aragón receive gifts from Tió de Nadal.

On Christmas Day the family comes together to eat again, but not as much as the night before. Especially in families with young children, this day is a time to show what Papá Noel brought everyone. The streets fill with children trying out their new roller skates, bikes, and remote control cars.

On December 28, Spain celebrates el Día de los Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents’ Day). This is another Catholic tradition that has evolved over time and been adapted to the modern world. Today, it is celebrated as a kind of Spanish April Fool’s Day when people play pranks (bromas o inocentadas) on each other—presumably because Herod was tricked as the Baby Jesus had been taken away to safety.

Traditionally, January 5 is a very exciting day for the youngest members of a Spanish family. All afternoon, each city organises a special event in which large floats parade through the streets carrying musicians, artists, people in costume, and, most importantly, the Tres Reyes Magos (the Three Kings), who wave to all the children of the city. After the parade, families return home for an early dinner so the children can clean their shoes and leave them in the living room. This way, when the Tres Reyes Magos visit the home in the wee hours of the morning, they’ll know where to leave the presents for each member of the family.

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas Cards

5/12/2020

It has been the practice of many parishioners to leave Christmas cards for others in the church porch for collection.  Unfortunately, this is not possible this year.  As an alternative, if you wish to send a message to fellow parishioners, you are welcome to do so via ‘News from the Pews’.  There are however, rules!

Due to GDPR regulations we would not be able to publish names of recipients so please address your greeting in a general way.

If you wish to put your full name at the end of your greeting (name and surname), we have to have your permission to publish it.  Please include your consent to publish when you send your message through to us.  News for the Pews will be posted on the website for up to 12 months and a copy may be printed for the notice board at Clayton church. 

We will keep a record of this consent.  You are welcome to withdraw your agreement at any time and your name will be removed.

Send your Christmas message

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas Jokes

5/12/2020

  • Q: What do snowmen eat for lunch?
    A: Icebergers!
  • Q: What do monkeys sing at Christmas?
    A: Jungle bells!
  • Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
    A: Frostbite!
  • Q: Who is Rudolph’s favourite pop star?
    A: Beyon-sleigh!
  • Q: What do you call buying a piano for the holidays?
    A: Christmas Chopin!
  • Q: Who delivers the presents to cats?
    A: Santa Paws!
  • Q: Who goes Ho Ho Whoosh, Ho Ho Whoosh?
    A: Santa going through a revolving door!
  • Q: What do you call a priest with an accelerator pedal on his head?
    A: Rev!

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas in Sweden

5/12/2020

Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia's Day (or St. Lucy's Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head, so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means 'light' so this is a very appropriate name.

December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old 'Julian' Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia's Day. On the first Sunday of Advent, called "Första Advent" in Swedish, many Swedes will put their Advent candles and/or an Advent Star in windows of their homes.

Advent Stars were first made in the 1930s from red paper. The stars normally have seven (or sometimes nine) points and are about 30-45cms (12 to 18 inches) across. They have holes in them, and a light is put in them (now a safe electric one) so the light shines out. The stars are hung in a window to remind people that the wise men followed a star to find Jesus in the Christmas story. The stars are often now white and might be made of straw, wood or metal as well as paper.

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas in France

5/12/2020

We decorate the house and tree, have a nativity set with clay figurines. Children and adults would leave their pair of slippers or a pair of shoes under the tree and see the next day if le Pere Noel leaves a clementine or chocolates (or even a piece of coal for the naughty ones) in them. Christmas presents are left under the tree. We generally do not send Christmas cards and do not have Boxing Day.

The main family event happens on the evening of Christmas Eve when extended family will share a pre meal drink with smoked salmon and foie gras canapes, nuts and oysters. The meal would be lengthy with many courses and as many types of wines. Shellfish, snails, game and fish are the usual food but some regions have their own traditions. The traditional dessert is a Christmas chocolate log eaten with a glass of champagne.

Most Catholics would these days go to mass on Christmas Day then have a more close family lunch where turkey, goose or capon is eaten with chestnut.

For Epiphany , we celebrate it with a flaky pastry cake filled with almond cream called Galette des Rois where une fève ( ceramic figure) is placed inside and the person who finds it in their slice is crowned the king or queen and wears a gold paper crown.

Thank you to the parishioners who sent in contributions this week!

November

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas Traditions - 29/11/2020

It would be interesting to hear of traditions for the festive season in other countries. In Germany, Advent wreaths are very important. Most homes will have one with a new candle lit each Sunday of Advent. The first Advent Wreath is credited to Johann Hinrich Wichern, a German pastor, who founded an orphanage in Hamburg in 1833. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, the children would ask him daily if Christmas had arrived. To make the wait easier, Wichern came up with his magical Christmas countdown. He created his first Advent wreath out of an old cartwheel and small candles. If you follow Christmas Traditions from another country, please share them with us—contact details at the top of the page.

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Christmas songs with a twist! - 29/11/2020

The PM said this week “Tis the season to be Jolly Careful” which changes the words of that popular song to:

'Deck the Halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la la la la la’
‘Tis to season to be jolly careful la la la la la la la’
‘Don we now our PPE apparel fa la la la la la la la la’
‘Troll the ancient Yuletide carol fa la la la la la la la la’

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Coronavirus Christmas Concerts - 29/11/2020

Our little people are very well versed with the rules in place to help to keep the Coronavirus away. One local primary school is going ahead with the Nativity Play which will be filmed so that parents and grandparents can see their darlings perform. Some changes as a result of the virus could be:

  • The Inn Keeper: ‘Sorry, we are closed due to the virus.’
  • The Angel to the Shepherds: ‘Remember Hands, Face, Space and leave the gifts outside the stable.’
  • Joseph will have to remain outside the stable until the moment just before Baby Jesus arrives.
  • The Three Kings will not be allowed to travel out of Tier 3 just yet.

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Screened Masses - 29/11/2020

It was great to hear some feedback about our screened masses this week and the church at Clayton. Those who are unable to attend mass are grateful for the opportunity to join Father Anton virtually and some who have been able to attend (prior to Lockdown 2) have commented on how safe they feel in the church. This can only be achieved with the great effort of our team of volunteers. Our Flower Ladies are already planning the arrangements for the altar for our Christmas masses with the Advent Wreath already in place for Sunday. It is disappointing to be in Tier 3 when the lockdown ends but the big positive for us is that we are allowed to attend mass, albeit with the same restrictions as pre-lockdown.

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

LinkLine - 29/11/2020

The pandemic has given us a taste of what it is like to be stuck at home with little to stimulate us. It is good to know that our charity supporting the elderly and lonely has continued to work throughout this period with Sue and her volunteers soldiering on from home in some cases. It is good to have ‘a friend on the phone’.

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Library changes - 29/11/2020

You may notice some changes the next time that you visit the library. Some of the books have been moved around as follows:

  • Travel books are now in the Fantasy Section.
  • Books on Politics can be found in the Sci-Fi Section
  • Epidemiology in the Self-Help Section.

Good Luck!

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Shielding - 29/11/2020

Some Shielders have been stuck at home for many weeks now. Some are lucky enough to get out for a walk or into their garden, but many may have been quite lonely and cut off. If you have been shielding, let us know how it has been for you?

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

A big thank you - 21/11/2020

"To all our stewards, musicians and film directors who are helping us to attend Mass either virtually or in person (when permitted). Also, to those who prepare the church and serve on the altar.Thank you for all you are doing. Most importantly, thank you to Father Anton."

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Food Bank - 21/11/2020

"We are grateful to the Parish Representatives who help us to ensure that our donations of food get to the Food Bank. We have had several drop off days which have, in addition to donating food, enabled us to have a quick chat with a fellow parishioner - socially distanced of course!"

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Inspirational Christian Art - 21/11/2020

"Here is a website where you can find uplifting images linked to Christian text and teaching. https://www.christian.art/ You can subscribe to receive free daily Gospel readings too."

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Dogs - 21/11/2020

"I have to be honest, I don’t like dogs much. However, during lockdown I have been helping out by walking someone else’s (small) dog each afternoon. This has given me the incentive to take a daily walk, get some fresh air and exercise and on our way, have a quick ‘hello’ with other walkers. I have also noticed that during this lockdown, people are a little bit more aware of the social distancing so that gives me more hope that WE CAN BEAT THIS VIRUS! The dog isn't complaining either."

Blog - Our Lady and St Werburgh

Return of "News From The Pews" - 21/11/2020

To help each other through the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, it has been decided to resurrect 'News from the Pews' which a few might remember.

Please send in your tips, advice, positive messages, to share with one another in an effort to help us to keep our faith, keep in touch and be charitable during the difficult times we are all living through.

It might be a useful website, a kind act you have experienced, a poem or a prayer. If you have anything to share, you are welcome to either write via the church office or email to sg.olstwerburgh.clayton@rcaob.org.uk Please include your contact details if you are writing.

Anything shared will appear on parish-news-from-the-pews.html