St Ethelburga, the enterprising 7th Century Abbess of Barking, founded a satellite convent on the site of All Hallows’ almost 1300 years ago, and it is to this place that the Guild of Entrepreneurs returned on Thursday 11th October, 2018.
Worship was a central part of the activities of the medieval Guilds, with fraternal trade bodies formed around their local church or out of a particular religious community. The patronage and intercessions of Christian Saints has been sought by most modern Guilds too, and this aspect is referenced most clearly by the title “Worshipful” ascribed to Livery Companies even today.
In its ambition to become just such a “Worshipful” Company, the Guild of Entrepreneurs’ patronal festival (11th October) has been marked annually since the adoption of St Ethelburga of Barking in 2016.
At 6pm, a procession of Clergy, the Master and Clerk, to gentle organ accompaniment, made its way soberly through the nave. Seats were taken, and the Reverend Sophia Acland (associate priest at All Hallows’ and its principal during this period of interregnum) expounded scholarly on the life and legacy of Ethelburga, before leading the formal introduction to evensong.
By kind permission of the Trustees of the Oxford Spezzati, a quintet of skilful singers (Henry Capper-Allen, Cate Hall, Amy Hinds, Al Little, Adam Smyth – under the direction of Nick Mumby) offered beautiful unaccompanied 16th and 17th Century choral works, lending a measured and contemplative air to the familiar pattern of this service.
Psalm: plainsong (ps34 vv1-8)
Lord’s Prayer: Stone
Canticles: Gibbons (short service)
Anthem: Parsons (Ave Maria)
The Master, Mr Lee Robertson, read a portion of Isiah’s prophecy exhorting trust and faith, and the Reverend Canon David Parrott read Jesus’s encouraging words from Chapter 12 of St Luke’s Gospel.
A hymn to St Ethelburga was sung. The Guild was delighted to learn that the hymn’s author, Mr P.A. Sutherland (Liveryman Carman and some time Parish Clerk of St Ethelburga’s Bishopsgate), was in the congregation – perhaps accounting for the spirited singing from an otherwise modest assembly!
St Ethelburga’s Day 2019 is on Friday 11th October
You can read more about St Ethelburga in the 2017 edition of Dare, Create, Succeed here