From the vicar
someone asked me recently. What is the origin of the activity and why do we do
There have been
two types of wake in England over the centuries. The first is a vigil which
takes place before burial and has its origins in the Celtic pagan religions. It
is possible that there was a superstitious fear of evil spirits molesting the
corpse in some way and so family and friends would keep watch until the time
appointed for burial. This custom was developed to include festivities in some
places. The corpse was placed under a table with a plate of salt on its breast
(to ward off evil spirits) whilst liquor for the watchers was placed on top.
With the arrival of Christianity prayer was added for the departed, although
since the Reformation such practice has largely disappeared except in places
where there is a large Catholic population. The wake would have been quite
natural as the corpse was kept at home awaiting burial, a practice which has
persisted well into living memory and until the advent of funeral parlours.
Sometimes the corpse is brought home still so that family and friends can say
‘farewell’ and where this occurs it can be an aid in the process of grieving.
The second type
of wake is the celebration associated with the dedication of a parish church.
From Anglo-Saxon times the wake was an all-night vigil before the feast of the
patron saint which was celebrated as a holiday with the patronal mass and
attendant festivities. As years went by the event tended to degenerate into a
fair. These sometimes became occasions for debauchery and in 1445 an attempt
was made by Henry VI to suppress them
still hold wakes today, although the religious element may have almost
disappeared. Rural communities sometimes hold fairs which are vestiges of the
old wake transferred to the nearest Saturday or a Bank Holiday Monday. It may
still be a time when family members who have moved away return to join in the
festivities and renew acquaintances.
or vigils are held for other reasons too. A vigil is commonly held on Maundy
Thursday in memory of Jesus’ command to his disciples that they wait and watch
with him and sometimes a vigil is held on Easter Eve as it is today at St.
Peter’s. Away from special times in the calendar a vigil can be arranged as a
time of preparation and prayer for any purpose or event, as a useful time of
peace with God for prayer and reflection.
There have been
some changes over the years, but the wake can still be a useful reminder of
God’s presence in our everyday lives and a reason to celebrate his goodness. It
is especially appropriate during the month of November with its several
services of remembrance whether joyful or solemn.
OF ENGLAND INITIATIVE
Join us in
celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, who is God with us, during this
journey’ offers a simple daily reflection from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day.
Get it delivered free
to your phone or inbox.
or text GODWITHUS to
Pray for the
organisations supported by St. Peter’s especially those engaged in evangelism:
Church Army, Barnabas
Fund and Mission Aviation Fellowship.
Wednesday 1st November, 10.00am Mass for All Saints’ Day
for All Souls
2nd November at 8.00pm
Names to be remembered may be added to the
list at the back of church or hand your list to one of the churchwardens.
Wednesday 15th November, 8.00pm Parochial Church Council in the Parish Hall
Wednesday 22nd November, 7.30pm Bushey Inter-Faith Forum (details on the pew sheet)
Wednesday 29th November, 10.00am Mass for the Missionary Work of the Church
the registers –
19th October Graham Homan Smith
you’ from Father Andrew
As I prepare to begin a phased return to my
duties following my recent surgery, I would like to express my sincere thanks
for all the support the people at St. Peter’s have given me. I have very much
appreciated the many cards, gifts and visits I have received and, of course,
the prayers of the faithful which have sustained me in recent days. I am very
much looking forward to being with you all again.
Statement about the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey
(Published at the request of the Diocese of St. Albans)
The Church of England has been supporting
the police on an investigation into allegations of sexual offences against
children and adults by the late Bishop Hubert (Victor) Whitsey. The allegations
date from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and while he was retired
and living in Blackburn diocese.
Bishop Whitsey also served as Bishop of
Hertford in St Albans Diocese from 1971 to 1974.
Anyone affected by this news should call the
CCPAS helpline on 0303 003 11 11 who can offer help and signpost to
church-related support and information or alternatively call the NSPCC 0808 800
5000. Anyone with further information on the case should go direct to the
police on 101.
Any allegations or information will be
listened to and treated seriously.
Alternatively, if you have any information or
concerns please call Jez Hirst, Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser on 01727
818107 Mob: 07867 350886 or email@example.com
Advent Study Booklet
Additional Curates Society has produced a study booklet for Advent. Written by
Joan Whyman it is entitled ‘Awakening to Wonder’ and costs £2-00. It provides
an opportunity to reflect upon the joys anticipated during the season of
Advent. Fr. Andrew has copies for those who would like one.
am Me: The Exhibition
A creative mixed-media exploration
of what it means to be a refugee
Bushey and Oxhey Methodist Church
7th to 9th
November, 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Andrew Burton SSC, a priest of the Society. (020 8950 1424). Usual day off
Mr. Peter Mould (020 8428 8307); Mrs. Anne Swerling (020 8950 8923).
prayer request to our Prayer Line on 07939 379018. Private prayer will be
offered for 2 weeks.