During Lent, the cathedral uses a canticle of Common Worship at morning prayer which is adapted from ‘The Prayer of Manasseh’. This is a short penitential prayer of 15 verses, which is included in the apocrypha of the Bible. Though its true author is unknown, its title derives from it being ascribed to King Manasseh of Judah (c. 697-642 B.C.), who is described in 2 Chronicles 33 as being an idolatrous king who repented.
‘The Prayer of Manasseh’ is notable as a model of penitential prayer, because the prayer focuses on God’s compassion, patience and mercy, rather than on the writer’s failings. ‘Immeasurable and unsearchable is your promised mercy, for you are God, Most High. You are full of compassion, long-suffering and very merciful.’ It is the correct emphasis for Lent, as a season that is not on focused on our sins, but on the nature of God’s love, which evokes our compunction and compassion.
This same focus on God is found in a sonnet by the Italian poet, musician and singer, Gaspara Stampa (1523–1554), one of the greatest female poets of the Renaissance who produced more than 300 poems before her death at the young age of 31. Born in Padua, she and her mother moved to Venice following her father’s death in the 1930s, where she became involved in Venetian society and cultural life. After taking stock of her life in the opening lines of this sonnet, her focus then quickly turns to God.
Translated by Lorna de Lucchi, Gaspara Stampa’s untitled poem reads:
Deeply repentant of my sinful ways
And of my trivial, manifold desires,
Of squandering, alas, these few brief days
Of fugitive life in tending love’s vain fires,
To Thee, Lord, Who dost move hard hearts again,
And render warmth unto the frozen snow,
And lighten every bitter load of pain
For those who with Thy sacred ardours glow,
To Thee I turn, O stretch forth Thy right hand
And from this whirlpool rescue me, for I
Without Thine aid could never reach the land;
O willingly for us didst suffer loss,
And to redeem mankind hung on the Cross,
O gentle Saviour, leave me not to die.
We might contrast her understanding of God with her near contemporary English priest-poet John Donne (1572–1631), who uses shockingly violent images in the famous sonnet “Batter my heart, three-person’d God” (Holy Sonnet 14, c.1610), inviting God to “bend / Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new”, and concluding by admitting that he cannot be free or chaste in his love for God ‘except you ravish me’. Gaspara Stampa’s imagery is much more gentle. She speaks of her Lord as one who can move hard hearts like melting snow, and who by kindling ardours within us “can lighten every bitter load of pain”. She appeals to God to reach out to rescue her form her turmoils. The poem ends by addressing her ‘gentle Saviour’ in prayer, asking for the rescue she needs and in which she can trust, knowing that for redemption He willingly suffered loss and death.
‘The Prayer of Manasseh’ and the sonnet by Gaspara Stampa encourage us through the season of Lent not to focus on our sin and wretchedness, but on God’s love which melts and humbles us, moves us to contrition and compunction, and motivates us to call on God and to commit to the ongoing conversion of our lives. May God move “hard hearts again / And render warmth unto the frozen snow, / And lighten every bitter load of pain / For those who with… sacred ardours glow.”
PAUL OVEREND, CHANCELLOR
Worship & Mission
Weekly service schedule
The service sheet for the coming fortnight can be viewed on the cathedral website (click link to visit)
10 April, Palm Sunday
10.30am Sung Eucharist and Procession of Palms with Reading of the Passion
3.45pm Choral Evensong
11 April Monday of Holy Week
5.30pm Choral Evensong with singing of Lamentations (Pt I) by Tallis
7.30pm Compline, with Meditation
12 April, Tuesday of Holy Week
11am Chrism Eucharist
5.30pm Choral Evensong with singing of Lamentations (Pt II) by Tallis
7.30pm Compline, with Meditation
13 April, Tuesday of Holy Week
5.30pm Choral Evensong
7.30pm Tenebrae: An evening service for Holy Week
14 April, Maundy Thursday
7.30pm Eucharist of the Last Supper, Stripping of the Altar and watch of the passion until midnight
15 April, Good Friday
9.30am Liturgy of Good Friday
12 noon Three Hours’ Devotion
16 April, Easter Eve
8pm Paschal Vigil with Baptism and Confirmation and First Eucharist of Easter
17 April, Easter Day
8am Holy Communion
10.30am Sung Eucharist for Easter Day
12.30pm Holy Communion
3.45pm Festal Evensong for Easter Day
Meets next on Friday 18 March at 9am.
Thereafter please note it will move to a new day and time of Monday 8.40-9.20am, on the following dates: 11 April,
9 May, 13 June, 11 July
Sunday 20 March, 7pm
Sacred Space is a gentle and reflective service with time to wonder, the opportunity to use all your senses to explore faith and the chance to experience the unique and serene atmosphere of the Cathedral as the day draws to a close. It is led by the Revd Canon David Dadswell.
Future dates for Sacred Space are:
Sunday 22 May
Sunday 17 July
Becoming Church: Five Bible Studies on Acts 2:42-47
Join the Precentor and John Davies at 4pm in the Cathedral Café on Monday afternoons for a Lenten Bible Study, beginning on Monday 7th March. No need to book – just come along and buy a tea – study materials provided
Prayers in memory of Bishop Bob Hardy
At evensong on Friday 1 April 2022
It is nearly a year since Bob Hardy, former Bishop of Lincoln, died. At the time it was not possible to hold a public service of recognition of his contribution to the life of the diocese, and it is planned to mark the anniversary of his death during Evensong at the Cathedral on Friday 1 April. This service will take place at the normal time of 5.30pm, and will include a reflection on Bob Hardy’s contribution to the life of the diocese given by Alistair Redfearn and prayers of thanksgiving for his life and work. All are welcome to the service, for which seating will be unreserved.
Stations of the Cross
Throughout Lent, from 9 March, 4.30pm on Wednesdays.
Join one of our Chaplains for this quiet and devotional reflection on the journey to the Cross.
Lent sermon series
At Evensong, 3.45pm Sundays
6 March – The Revd Alan Moses, Warden of Spirituality, Diocese of Lincoln
13 March – The Revd Canon Dr Jeffrey Heskins, Member of the chaplaincy team at Bishop Grosseteste University
20 March – The Revd Canon Alyson Buxton, Team Rector of Boston, Director of Resourcing Sustainable Church and Chair of the House of Clergy
27 March –The Rt Revd Dr Nicholas A Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham
3 April – Dr Sally Buck, Warden of Lay Ministry
10 April – Mr John Davies, Cathedral Reader
Lent is a time of fasting, and penitence for those things that destroy the perfection of creation. As we join the international call for prayer and fasting this Lent, we remember Ukraine in our prayers – the traditional colour of purple for penitence highlights the way that human failing can mar what should be a thing of beauty, and backs up the cathedral being lit Blue and White for the National Day of Prayer for Peace last Sunday. We hold the people of Ukraine in our thoughts and prayers at this time, and those who wish to use the cathedral as a place for their own thoughts and prayers are always welcome to do so.
Lent Almsgiving: Ukraine Appeal
The cathedral is supporting the work of DePaul International, an international charity group which works with the homeless. DePaul Ukraine has been present and working in Ukraine since 2007, so has existing connections with the region: https://int.depaulcharity.org/fundraising-for-depaul-ukraine/
The Christian inspiration behind the charity is Saint Vincent de Paul (1581–1660), a French priest and social reformer who dedicated himself to serving poor people and communities who is sometimes referred to as the “Patron Saint of Charity”.
Funeral of Elys Varney, 10.45am Monday 7 March
A faithful and longstanding member of the cathedral worshipping community who attended Evensong daily
International Women’s Day, 8 March 2022
This global day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. For more information, see www.internationalwomensday.com
Vigil for the Earth
Faith & the Environment Lincolnshire is holding a silent ‘vigil for the earth’ on Lincoln High St (Speakers Corner, under the plane tree) every Saturday afternoon 2pm-4pm during Lent, Sat March 5 to April 9 inclusive.
The public vigil allows space
-To witness to the climate and ecological emergency
-To grieve the loss of species, the degradation of the earth and untold suffering
-To commit ourselves in peace and justice to do all we can to minimise the effects of the crisis.
Participants can stay as long or short a period as they wish. We encourage you to bring a stool or camping chair if you prefer to be seated. People of all faiths and philosophies are welcome. More about Faith & the Environment Lincolnshire can be found at their website – www.faithenvlincs.org
Sunday 6 March
First Sunday of Lent
Deuteronomy 26. 1-11
Romans 10. 8b-13
Luke 4. 1-13
Luke 18. 9-14
Sunday 13 March
Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 15. 1-12, 17-18
Philippians 3. 17—4. 1
Luke 13. 31-end
Jeremiah 22. 1-9, 13-17
Luke 14: 27-33
Sunday 20 March
Third Sunday of Lent
Isaiah 55. 1-9
1 Corinthians 10. 1-13
Luke 13. 1-9
Genesis 28. 10-19a
John 1. 35-end