Spring and summer in our countryside

But for Covid-19 we would have held a Rogation walk in May and a Midsummer service in the churchyard in June.  As an alternative we created a web page on the themes of spring and summer, celebrating our countryside that we were unable to enjoy as much as we would have wished.
You are welcome to make additional contributions or suggestions by emailing waterstratford@gmail.com.

For the video clips (click on red) you will need your sound turned on.
They will open in separate windows which will need to be closed as soon as 
they are over or else they will continue into something outside our control!

Water Stratford 


Psalm 95 verses 1-8a
O come, let us sing unto the Lord,
let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving,
and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth,
and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his, and he made it,
his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and fall down,
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God,
and we are the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand.
Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

A spade for a gardener,
A rake and a hoe,
And you must have a watering can
To make the flowers grow;

You must take your little rake,
You must take your hoe,
And weed the bed, and seed the bed,
And watch the flowers grow.

Sowing by Edward Thomas (filmed and read by Chris, edited by Pat)

St Matthew's Gospel chapter 6 verses 25-34
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your
heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

In the Fields by Charlotte Mew (filmed and read by Chris, edited by Pat)

Apple Blossom Time
The apple trees are blooming now
And April sunshine warms the air,
A pleasure to at last be free
From winter’s rainfall, dull despair,
As temperatures begin to climb.
But there’s a threat we can’t ignore,
A curse, in apple blossom time.

The atmosphere is fresh and clear,
No vapour trails traverse the sky;
But mute, unseen, a menace seeks,
Where people pass each other by,
To bring the country to its knees,
But apple blossom’s lovely now,
And birdsong carries on the breeze.

We can’t drop by to see our friends,
Can’t shake hands like we did before,
A ruthless killer’s on the loose;
Stand well back from your neighbour’s door.
Grim news each daily headline shows.
But apple trees bear scented clouds
Of snow-white blossom tinged with rose.

To war-zones hospitals have turned
With health workers on double shifts
But far from the front line am I,
I go where harmony exists

And there’s no need for masks or shields,
I feel the pulse of nature beat
And count my blessings in the fields.

And when this tyranny has passed,
Life will have surely changed for good
And everyone will come again
Together, in the neighbourhood
In gratitude, as church bells chime
That we survived a fearsome plague
That blighted apple blossom time.
                                          © WJC Hilsdon 2020
Other recent poems by Chris can be found HERE

God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

In darkness and in light,
in trouble and in joy,
help us, heavenly Father,
to trust your love,
to serve your purpose,
and to praise your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come;
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Thrush's Nest
Within a thick and spreading hawthorn bush

That overhung a molehill large and round,
I heard from morn to morn a merry thrush
Sing hymns to sunrise, and I drank the sound
With joy; and often, an intruding guest,
I watched her secret toil from day to day -
How true she warped the moss to form a nest,
And modelled it within with wood and clay;
And by and by, like heath-bells gilt with dew,
There lay her shining eggs, as bright as flowers,
Ink-spotted over shells of greeny blue;
And there I witnessed, in the sunny hours,
A brood of nature's minstrels chirp and fly,
Glad as the sunshine and the laughing sky. 
                                          John Clare (1793-1864)                Hawthorn in blossom in churchyard, May 2020

Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

by William Shakespeare

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I am a true labourer: I earn that I eat, get that I
wear; owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness; glad of other men's good, content with my harm; and the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck.
Corin in As You Like It

                                       Summer 2008

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee; 
All things are passing: 
God never changeth: 
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things: 
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting.
Alone God sufficeth. 
St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)


Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang                                              Summer 2008
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
                                Edward Thomas (1878-1917)

from The Iona Abbey Worship Book
As from the beginning, God makes the world:
Makes it and mothers it, shapes it and fathers it;
Fills it with seeds and signs of fertility,
Fills it with life and songs and variety.
All that is green, deep, blue, and growing,
God's is the hand creating you.
All that is tender, firm, fragrant, curious,
God's is the hand creating you.
All that crawls, flies, swims, walks, or is motionless,
God's is the hand creating you.
All that speaks, sings, cries, laughs, or keeps silence,
God's is the hand creating you.
All that suffers, lacks, limps, and longs for an end,
God's is the hand creating you.
The world belongs to God,
The earth and all its people.


Almighty God,
you have created the heavens and the earth
and made us in your own image:
teach us to discern your hand in all your works
and your likeness in all your children;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

A Collect for Pentecost
God, who as at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

The grandeur of God: a sonnet for Pentecost
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
                                                                           Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

A Celtic Blessing
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
May the road rise up to meet you,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.