Friday, July 15, 2016

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide: Nice.

Yesterday's attacks in Nice, France shocked everyone - the grief and pain of these hours will hardly fade and the remembrance and memory of the lives ended and struck by this tragedy will be perpetual, the Roman Anglican will be in prayer with and for the people of Nice, once an Italian city and still only 40 minutes away from our border. Although, I think that what we can do best is not being scared, that's what the terrorists want and so I decided to share pictures of the charming and relaxed place that Nice and the Promenade des Anglais was before this terrible event. 

The French rivera had been a popular place for the English where to "summer" or spend the winter, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Côte d'Azur - in 1820 a very cold winter brought a great number of beggars into the centre of Nice and the large English community proposed a useful project for them: the construction of a large promenade, which was later paid for by the Anglican minister Rev. Lewis Way: the walkway of the English: La Promenade des Anglais.

Because of the large English community in the area an Anglican community was founded as early as 1815 and by 1820 it was a well established one with regular services. The first church and graveyard were built by then. In 1842 Rev. Henry Francis Lyte, author of the world‐famous hymns Abide with Me and Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven, fell ill, died in Nice and was buried in the churchyard. In January 1860 the first stone of the new Gothic-Revival church building was laid, in its original position, in the vicinity of the promenade.

I was struck by the words of our Bishop David Hamid in his blog: The Promenade is just a couple of hundred metres from our Church of the Holy Trinity. I spoke to the Revd Peter Jackson, the Chaplain this morning. Like so many, Fr Peter is in shock at these events. Last night he was enjoying the national festival, and attended a reception with the Mayor and Prefet, a warm family occasion. At the reception, ironically, honour and tribute was being paid to the those who work for the emergency services in the city. On return to the presbytery, he learned of the attacks close by. One Churchwarden narrowly escaped injury. 
As the church's website states: For almost 200 years, Holy Trinity has contributed to the spiritual, cultural and social life of the city of Nice and looks forward to continuing to do so. It certainly does.

Until yesterday's celebrations of the Bastille Day La Prom, as the locals call it, was the most popular gathering area in town, populated by all people of all ages, especially on Sundays. It was also a popular area for the famous Nice Carnival, the Battle of Flowers and especially a great theatre to admire the beauty of the Mediterranean sea, perhaps the oldest testimony of so much evil man can produce. 

I hope and pray that La Prom will again be a joyful place, I hope and pray that these horrible attacks will cease. Let us pray for all the lives that were taken by this horror, especially those of innocent children, let us pray for the innocent injured children, let us pray for those who mourn or who wait for any news. Let us pray for Nice.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

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