The following was reported in the Peel City Guardian, 6 November, 1897
Funeral oration by the Rev. T. A. Taggart
The funeral, which was of a very quiet description, took place at Clifton, on Wednesday morning at eleven o’clock. The mortal remains of the poet were laid to rest in the same grave that contains those of his wife, who predeceased him. At about the same time that the last rites of the Church of England were being performed in connection with the funeral of the Rev. T. E. Brown at Clifton, a memorial service was held in St. Matthew’s new church.
In St. Matthew’s Churches - old and new - the dead poet took a deep and affectionate interest., and it were only fitting that in the church now used for Divine Worship by the parishioners of St. Matthew’s there should be consecrated the memory of the most distinguished man ever given birth to in the parish. For Tom Brown was born in St. Matthew’s parish, and was baptised in old St. Matthew’s. His early education was supervised by two chaplains of St. Matthew’s, and perhaps the happiest period of a happy life - his early boyhood - was spent - or a good deal of it was - in the parish.
When Tom Brown came to manhood, and took orders, he was ever ready to take the pulpit at St. Matthew’s, and it is only a few weeks ago that he preached at the new church. Of course to such a lover of old Douglas, it was a grief that the Old Church had to go, but he was not the man to allow sentiment to stand in the way when there was an imperative demand for the building of a new church. Accordingly he threw himself heart and soul into the New Church movement, and gave it substantial aid. The last service he rendered in the New Church was the writing of the verse and prose descriptions that were such a feature of the programmes of the bazaar held last week in aid of the New Church fund.
The memorial service of Wednesday had not been well announced, and consequently it was not astonishing that the attendance was but a sparse one. The officiating clergy were: The vicar (Rev. T. A. Taggart) and the vicar of Braddan (Canon Moore). Before the clergy entered, Mr J. D. Looney, the organist of St. Matthew’s, played a funeral march on the organ. The Rev. T. A. Taggart read the opening sentences of the burial service, and after the reading the Psalms were chanted. The lesson was read by Canon Moore, and the hymn, ‘Christ will gather in His own’, was next sung. The vicar delivered a brief address, taking his text from St John’s Gospel 10 -11 ‘The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep’. He sketched the ideal Christian life, and said that such was the life of their departed brother, who was ever trying how much he could do to serve God and his generation.
Their friend was generous to the excellences of the Manx character, but was not blind to, and was not afraid to point out the weakness of that character so that the weakness might be removed. He was a great poet and writer, and there was not a line of his writings but was pure and lofty in aim. Many a man with half his ability would be unapproachable, but he, like his Master took on the form of a servant, in order that he might be of service to his fellows. The preacher concluded by urging his hearers to take example by the pure and holy life that their illustrious countryman had led. At the end of the sermon the hymn ‘My God, my Father, while I stray’, was sung, which concluded the service. The Dead March in Saul was played on the organ as the congregation dispersed.
Last year we were able to present a play entitled “Saint Martin of Tour”, on behalf of funds for the Mission, which benefited to the extent of many pounds by the effort. May we solicit the interest and support of our readers in a similar undertaking and for the same object. This time the play will be “The Monks of the South.”
“Knowing you are interested in the case, I am writing to tell you how much she has improved since she came here. From a forlorn sad child, she is now a bright and happy child who can smile and play with other children. She has gained over four pounds in weight and her cheeks are rosy, and one would hardly recognise her.”
The Vicar is writing to express his pleasure in receiving such a report, and would like to have a contribution to send as a thank-offering for the work of the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society. The Misses A. Robinson and Gertie Radcliffe have kindly consented to organize a Silver Thimble League among us, and we hope that they will receive every encouragement in their good work. Each member of the League undertakes to provide two articles of work, either of a useful or ornamental nature, and also subscribe annually one shilling towards defraying the expenses of the League. The articles are sold annually at a small sale of work held in the School.
The following is the programme for the month: March 6th Astronomy, March 13th Cookery, March 20th Pictures, March 27th Members Admission.
The following letter and report have been received from the London headquarters of the Coral League: “I am sending you the report of Achiliana, which you will be pleased to have. Will you kindly see that her Saint Matthew’s friends know about it as it may help to keep up their interest in the child they have adopted. People have been very generous and we are most grateful for your help; in these difficult times when our financial position is extremely grave, we simply trust that all will continue to do their level best to help us to carry on with the great work we have in hand. Yours sincerely Ethel C Douglas.” The report reads as follows: “Name of child, Achiliana; school, Lulindi; nice pleasant child; frightfully stupid at school, but quite sensible at home, I hear. She is often employed now in nursing her nephew Jermano, the son of her sister Lois. Her brother Gerard has left school and begun to work. I think she is anxious for baptism.”
Those who were present at the Lantern Lecture given by Mr Clifton Kelway, at Noble’s Hall, on the 4th April, enjoyed a great treat. It was shown that the English church herself was Catholic, in spite of much that might appear to contradict it. Attempts to deprive her children of their heritage had failed. Men had been imprisoned and persecuted because they would obey the Church and her Prayer Book. The result, under God, was that the worship of the church today, was, generally speaking, of a very different order from that which obtained a hundred years ago.
Describing St Matthew’s Church and its Chaplain some 90 years ago, a certain writer used the words: “Holy Thursday was the same as any other Thursday”. It is true that things are not as they ought to be, but, thank God, they are very much better than they have been, and the day has long since passed away when it was possible to make such a statement as the above. So far as the last Holy Thursday is concerned, we are very happy to be able to state that it was well kept by young and old; better, so far as we can judge, than on any previous occasion. A number of brass vases were presented by the scholars of the Middle School, who paid a special visit to the church on the Sunday within the Octave for the purpose of offering their gift. The kindergarten scholars and teachers made a similar present on Whit Sunday, the special purpose of their gift being the decoration of the windows of the Church, when we are keeping Festival. It was a fitting celebration of our Mother’s Birthday.
On the 22nd September through the kindness of Mr. Leigh Goldie-Taubman, over 50 children belonging to the South Quay Mission were entertained at the Nunnery. A large number of prizes were provided by our generous host who himself superintended the races and provided for the youngsters a veritable feast before they returned in triumph to their homes.
During the past month we have received some beautiful lace work for the altar from Mrs. Langfield and also purificators from the late Attorney-General Mr. Ring, who shows in this and many other kindly ways that he does not forget us.
We are about to re-start our Brass Band and shall be grateful for any help our readers may give us in the form of gifts of instruments or money to purchase new ones or mend the instruments we have. If this notice meets the eye of any old bandsman who still has an instrument in his keeping, may we ask him to be good enough to return it as soon as possible to the Vicar or to Mr. Spence, who kindly placed his knowledge and experience at our disposal to put us on our feet again.
We had a very successful evening at the Villa Marina, on the 20th November, and are very grateful to those kind friends who helped us so splendidly by offering prizes for the occasion…We hope to collect a sufficient sum of money to enable us to pay the £30 required for the thorough overhauling of all our Band instruments, and at the same time enable St Matthew’s Albion FC to carry on.
This was shown at the Strand Cinema, on the 12th December, to an audience which must have consisted of 600 persons. The pictures themselves were very interesting illustrating as they did the story of the Catholic revival from the days of John Keble to the present day; but it was the lecture of Mr. Clifton Kelway, who, with his vast knowledge of the subject and his large experience as a lecturer, made the occasion such a memorable one.
The vicar had the pleasure of presiding at the New Year’s party on the 3rd January, when an enjoyable programme was provided by a number of friends of the Institution, and each of the inmates received some useful present. It must be gratifying to all who are interested in the House to note the vast improvements that have been made in recent years.
P.S. The House of Industry is now, of course, the Ellan Vannin Home. The vicars of the Douglas parishes are still ex-officio members of the Board of Directors.
The Church House was the building next to the hall which is now Milan Indian Restaurant. Saint Matthew’s Band had a band-room there and there were other recreational facilities. Father Burnett sold the building to pay for the installation of the old radiant gas fires which were fastened to the pillars, eventually some of these were used to heat the halls.
The instruments have been thoroughly overhauled, and were no sooner in our hands than they were in use. The players, under the capable and painstaking tuition of Mr. Spence, are making excellent progress. We are badly in need of more instruments. If others would follow the example of a gentleman who recently presented us with an instrument, we would be very grateful.
We are happy to be able to say that the 10th June was very faithfully observed…. There was continuous intercession for the conversion of our land. There must have been an average of a dozen persons in Church during the whole time until midnight, when the responsibility of maintaining the intercession passed to the faithful on the other side of the water. The alms, amounting to £2. 13s, are to be sent to the Anglo-Catholic Congress Committee for the training of candidates for the sacred ministry.
A meeting of members was held on the 30th May, when the Vicar gave an appropriate address and admitted nine new members.
Every August for the last eleven years we have run a Camp for our Sunday School children. Before the Great War swallowed up so many of our boys in Camps of quite a different kind, we had CLB Camps at Andreas, Perwick Bay, and Port St Mary. Three times we have shared our pleasures with parishes across the water, in that way giving pleasure to about sixty Englanders. On an average we have taken forty into the country every year - a week for girls, and a week for boys. People say, ‘How is it done?’ Its early history had its birth in the Vicarage kitchen, for with the first treck went nearly all the Vicarage pots and pans, and rugs and blankets too. By the kindness of friends, gifts and a few subscriptions, we now have the tenancy for some years of the Old School House at Ballaugh. We charge 5s per head for a Camp week, which includes travelling. Again, the uninitiated ask, ‘How is it done?’ First, the Camp mother is one who has had long experience in ‘making a dinner for a big family of what some people would throw into the dust bin!’ Economy of scraps is the first thing. The generosity of people in the country in gifts of ‘kind’ is the next thing, including picnics, etc., which all save on the food bill. The kind gifts from a few men in business in Douglas, who know something of our work, all help the feeding department. And last, but not least, the paying guest fees of the ‘home party’ - that is the vicarage party, who have, since the youngest boy was three years old, camped with the rest; and as they grew old enough, have joined the ‘staff’, and so given up two weeks of the summer holidays to help to ‘run the Camp’, ending up with a free week for real fun when the Vicar has been able to be with us, which he has always managed until the last two years; his work has been organiser of outings, etc. Last, but not least, what we have missed so much this year and last, were the services he held daily in the Camp, whenever we have been, that was always catered for, and the happiness, joy, and geniality of our Camp centered in and radiated from that early morning worship. The days are spent in bathing, picnics, tales round the Camp fire, concerts, games, parades, orderly duties, and fun of all sorts - wet days no exception! And ‘that’s how it’s done.’ One who visited the Camp as a camper was heard to remark, ‘Now this is what I call ideal community life’ - and they had all things in common.
With our Patronal Festival recommences, year by year, our winter’s campaign. Let us try and start together ‘with a long pull, and a strong pull’, not frittering away in a week or two. Just as the summer season is for making money, our harvest of visitors is short, so our season for harvesting souls, our own and others, is short; the winter is soon gone, and we have much to do. Every year the ‘season’ is responsible for some back slides, and we know it. It is hard to get into the swing of regular hours and duties towards God. September 21st (St Matthew’s Day) is our rallying date….Preparation for St Matthew’s day begins now, with a resolution to go one better than this time last year towards making our little Island the House of Saints that it was in days of long ago. The very names, the ancient stones, the kiels, cry out to us today:-
Faith of our Fathers, faith and prayer
Shall win our country back to thee.
Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
A very successful Festival was held on the 4th September, when a large number of members attended from all parts of the Island. The programme for the winter’s session is already in hand, and the secretary is to be congratulated not only on the excellence of the programme itself, but on the early date at which it has been placed in the hands of the members. The opening meeting of the session will take place on the 29th October, when the Vicar has been asked to give an address on ‘The Practical Life of a Catholic’.
On Sunday afternoon, October 5th, we hope to re-open our Bible class. The subject will be ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’. The loan of copies of Bunyan’s masterpiece will be gratefully acknowledged. Any girls over seventeen will be welcomed at the Schools at 3.45 o’clock. We are hoping to see many new members. Officers, treasurer, registrar, secretary, pianist, and album keeper will be selected at this meeting. The treasurer’s account shows £2 subscribed to UMCA since Christmas; the secretary’s record shows a very regular attendance of senior members, but a most irregular attendance of juniors. We began the year with 34 members. For the sake of some whose time is limited, we hope to close the Class by 4.20, so hoping to make for regularity. The album is a great feature of our Bible Class; in it the secretary writes notes of the lesson, and pictures to illustrate it are pasted every week opposite the notes. Mr Lewthwaite, Duke Street, has made us a specially large scrap book of brown paper for the purpose. Postcards, sketches, and etchings, culled from many sources, fill the pages. We owe a debt of gratitude to some fellow-members of the National Home Reading Union, London, for the loan of study books and portfolios of illustrations and cuttings. -(NB -Would the members who borrowed ‘Omar K’ and ‘Fairie Queene’ please return.)
The feast of St Matthew falls at a very awkward time for many. The 21st September is just about the time when the season ends, and the local holidays begin. Nevertheless, the Festival was duly kept and the services well attended. It is usual to have a luncheon in the School on this occasion, but as the Festival fell on a Sunday this year we had to forgo this pleasant extra. On the evening of the 21st the Vicar read the sermon preached by Bishop Wilson at the dedication of our Mother Church on that day 216 years ago. It was long, and must have taken ¾ of an hour to deliver, but its faithful teaching of the Catholic Faith on the authority of the Church, and the Apostolic Ministry, the necessity of the Sacraments and the Ministry of the Holy Angels, the duty of worship and the reverent conduct of the worshipper, made it well worth while.
On the 19th and 20th January the Rev Father Vernon of the Society of the Divine Compassion is giving two addresses at Villa Marina on ‘The Catholic Religion’. We hope that all our readers will attend and do their utmost to ensure a large audience. The lecturer belongs to one of our Church’s Religious Orders, and is a well-known Missioner across the water, where it is no uncommon thing for him to address vast audiences of working people, who have been deeply impressed by his ability and fervour.
On the 7th December Dr Tootell, Mus.Doc., Dunelin, FRCO gave a most excellent recital, consisting of six items by some of the great organists and musicians, chosen with that taste and played with that ability which we have learnt to look for from him. Miss L. Kaneen was the vocalist on this occasion, and sang her two solos, ‘O rest in the Lord’ and ‘Abide with me’, with great clearness and devotional feeling. The collection is to be devoted to the purchase of new Prayer Books and Hymn books for use in the church.
We are very pleased to be able to announce that a beautiful stained glass window is to be erected in the Lady Chapel by His Worship the High Bailiff of Douglas (R.D. Farrant, Esq.), as a trustee of the Murray Estate, in memory of our dear old friend and fellow-worshipper, Miss M.L. Wood. We are very grateful to him for helping us in this way to commemorate one to whom we of St Matthew’s, and indeed the whole Island, owed so much. The work is being done by Morris and Company, of Merton Abbey, which was founded in 1861 by William Morris, the poet, to carry out his great revival of the decorative arts. It will be remembered that our beautiful window over the High Altar was the work of this firm.
We have already commenced work on the new building, and, if all goes well, the opening ought to take place in the second or third week in December. When it is known that the purchase money of the building itself is £1400, and that the cost of the work, which we are at present taking in hand, will amount to over £1100 it will be realised that we are in need of all the help we can obtain. We are hoping that we may shortly receive substantial help and encouragement in the form of donations from the charitable persons in the town who have realised that we are doing the work not only for the benefit of the people connected with the church, but for the comfort and welfare of the sailors, porters and coal-heavers, who have to spend much of their time on the Quayside, and have no place in which to meet and find shelter, particularly through the winter months.
(This is now the Indian restaurant next door. Father Burnett sold it to pay for gas heaters which were fixed to the pillars in church. Ed.)
Never did the church look more beautiful and never was it more eloquent of thankfulness and devotion than on Thursday, the 1st October, when we began our harvest festival. Large numbers of people gathered for the tea, so excellently prepared by the ladies, at six o’clock. This was followed by Evensong…..The festival was continued over the Sunday….At the close of Evensong, a most delightful organ recital was given by Dr. Tootell, who enabled us to realise the truth of the words of Carlyle, who described music as
‘an inarticulate, unfathomable speech, which leads us to the edge of the infinite, and lets us for moments gaze into it.’
The following extract is from the Isle of Man Examiner 12th February 1926
The new church institute and sailors’ shelter adjoining St. Matthew’s Schoolrooms were opened by the Lieut. Governor on Thursday week. The premises were acquired and converted out of the proceeds of the bazaar held by the workers of St. Matthew’s Church just over a year ago, and comprise a large room in the basement for the young men’s club, and a similar spacious room on the ground floor for the use of seamen and quay workers. Lack of funds has delayed alterations to the upper part of the building but it is hoped that clubrooms for girls will be provided at no far distant date.
The purchase price of the building was £1,450, of which sum £700 has been paid; the cost of altering and renovating was £1.125, and about £300 is still required to meet the latter liability. The vicar invites anyone who would care to assist in furnishing the premises to communicate with him.
The Sunday School Festival
Father Waggett’s visit is not likely to be forgotten. His subject, ‘The Church a Divine Revelation’ was handled as few even such learned scholars could do, interspersed with delightful humour and illustrations. Do you know he spoke for 50 minutes on Sunday night, and yet many of us said we wanted more. It was good to know he has promised to come again if at all possible, and he was so delighted with the evident signs of life and progress in St. Matthew’s.
On January 13th I shall have completed my second year’s ministry amongst you. Sometimes the period seems far longer, so much has occurred; sometimes far shorter, the time has sped by and so much remains to be done. Both for my wife and myself the years have been happy ones, and we look hopefully to the future. But with regard to the ministry, many - very many - have helped, encouraged, prayed; some have just looked on and waited for signs of progress or retrogression; some have criticised and discouraged. To the first I would say from the bottom of my heart ‘Thank you’; their friendship and cooperation has been invaluable. Of the rest I would say, I am hopeful that the love of Christ will yet constrain them to do many things which otherwise they might not do, so that His Kingdom may come ‘on earth as it is in Heaven’.
Emmanuel. ‘God with us’ be our watchword!
In accordance with the directions in our Prayer Book, the Vicar will be in Church for the purpose of administering ‘absolution, together with ghostly counsel or advice’ on Saturdays at 2.30 and 8 pm and at other times by appointment.
A new alms box for our Tract Rack was kindly made by Mr. W Gill. The Vicar desires to acknowledge a donation of £5 from Mrs. Fenton and £1 14s 7d in the box for the special Church Expenses Deficit Fund. Thanks are due to the children, who brought 147 eggs, two apples and a chocolate hen to our Easter Gift Service, thus giving cheer to many of our sick and poor. The number of eggs contributed last year was 102.
My Dear Friends,
The event to which we are all looking forward to this month is our annual Sunday School Festival on Sunday, June 30th. Our preacher this year will be the Rev. Cyril Bickersteth, of the London House of the Community of the Resurrection. He is well known throughout the Anglican communion, and may be remembered by many of us as the author of two delightful little books ‘Letters to a Godson’. I personally have always had a sincere affectionate regard for him, because on the few occasions I have heard him preach, or otherwise come into contact with his sympathetic personality, it has always brought real spiritual help. Moreover he is intensely fond of children, and at his own request he will preach not only morning and evening, but address the Sunday scholars in the afternoon as well. I feel sure that everyone will make a special effort to be present at the services, and I know that those who have not done so will be very sorry for it afterwards.
My dear Friends,
Since I last wrote to you my wife and I have returned from a delightful holiday in Devonshire. The scenery round Torquay is very beautiful, indeed reputed to be some of the loveliest in England, but not more so than our Island. Indeed we remarked many times that nothing could compare with the glorious view of Douglas Bay from the sea, or the wonderful variety of some of our glens, and by contrast wild mountain scenery or rockbound coasts. The great pity is that so much here is spoilt by rude and vulgar advertisements, automatic machines and certain ugly wooden or corrugated iron erections. A wise and tactful committee for the preservation of natural scenic beauty, similar to those in certain parts of the mainland, if given sufficient power, might do wonderful work here.
Churches with services similar to those at St Matthew’s abound in the South, and it was encouraging to find in how many the Lord’s own service (Holy Communion) was evidently regarded as the chief act of worship on the Lord’s Day, just as it used to be in the time of the Holy Apostles.
My dear Friends,
Sometimes I view with trembling anxiety the tendencies of the present day. It is in just such a time of careless forgetfulness of God, ‘happy-go-lucky’ drifting away from His counsels, lukewarmness and overwhelming materialism, that we are told He may come again. How shall we stand in that day? I bid you dear friends of generous hearts and willing works, and you also whom I have prepared for Confirmation, and you all who look upon St Matthew’s as your home, and yet only come now and then even to the Lord’s Service, not to repress the best instincts of your souls, nor fail to heed the still small voice of conscience directing attention to spiritual things. Let us make the month of December a time of new endeavour, so that Christmas may find us rejoicing in the newborn King
We welcome in our midst the Reverend Sydney Victor Pressley, appointed assistant curate of our parish. He comes to us after six years’ careful training at Kelham Theological College, that great centre of Catholic influence worked by the Society of the Sacred Mission. We wish him not only happiness, but God’s grace in fostering his vocation and then surely his ministry at Saint Matthew’s will be richly blessed.
My dear friends,
Perhaps the most important local event during the present month will be the Anglo-Catholic School of Religion, to be held on February 21st – 24th. The subjects chosen concern us all, to whatever school of thought we belong and I feel sure that all who come will benefit by the instruction to be given. We all need to know clearly and definitely the reasons for the Faith, but this knowledge can only be gained by taking the trouble to learn and such connected course of instruction is one of the best ways of acquiring this knowledge.
(The Seamen’s Shelter was the building next to the Church Hall. Its original use and intention declined and it was used as a Band Room and for other recreational uses until sold by Father Burnett. For a long time it was used by the Manx Farmers and it was then sold to Mr Gubay who made it into a restaurant with various different tenants. Sadly at the moment it is closed. The money from the sale was used by Father Burnett to buy the old radiant gas heaters which were on each of the pillars in church. When the new system was installed some of the gas fires were put in the halls.)
As in past years, Sunday, July 13th, will be observed as our ‘Animal Sunday’ when our duty to our animal friends will be the subject of the sermon, and special intercessions will be offered. The celebrant and preacher at the 11 o’clock Sung Eucharist will be the Rev. J.N.E. Tredennick, Principal of Bishop Wilson Theological College.
My dear Friends, - I trust everyone of us has been spiritually strengthened and encouraged by our Patronal Festival. The visit of our Bishop with his encouraging message, and that of the Rev. Hugh Taggart, made it indeed a time of special significance. Father Taggart’s sermon on our Festival Sunday, tracing out the wonderful history of St. Matthew’s in the past, was particularly appropriate. All his earnest exhortations as well as his genial, sympathetic personality, was a delight to those who came. Naturally, the church was crowded, not only by St. Matthew’s people. but by many who came out of sheer affection for their dear old friend, but to many of these latter our beautiful Sung Eucharist made perhaps little or no appeal.. Nevertheless, we were glad to see them, for the Church opens her doors to everyone. But now that our Patronal Festival is over, let us hope it was the beginning of a revival of spiritual energy and renewed enthusiasm. Let us say to ourselves, quite candidly, it is not by any spasmodic efforts, or occasional waves of attendance that our church can go forward. St. Matthew’s cannot rely on those who make their spiritual fervour or co-operation depend upon choice human leadership, whether clerical or lay. St. Matthew’s depends upon those whose faithful allegiance is to their Divine Saviour, and whose faith in Mother Church is strong, active and enduring. Such people are not far to seek, and there are also the other sort, who just look in and criticise.
Bur even as St. Matthew’s has great traditions, so let us remember it has a great part to play in the future. Our Church stands for truths which have in many places been misunderstood, forgotten or neglected. At times we suffer persecution, ridicule and even contempt. Let us rejoice if these are suffered for righteousness sake. Let us not shrink from such things in the future. Let us by precept and constant practice be true to our belief in the Sacraments, in the church as a Divine Society, not a human organisation, and in the full Catholic Faith once delivered to the saints. Thus will the Grace of God continue, and we need not fear.
Our special visitor for the ECU Festival was Rev. W.J. Crouch, organizing Secretary from London who preached at the Sung Eucharist and at the meeting gave an instructive address on the recent Lambeth Conference. How thankful we ought to be that the dangerous pitfalls of that Conference were averted and that our Bishops as a whole stood firm for the Catholic faith and practice. Miss McKnight, who had attended the Anglo-Catholic Congress in London, gave a vivid description of that inspiring event, and made us all long to have been present. As we go to press, it is encouraging to record a general re-awakening of enthusiasm and activity after the summer months and the same spirit of harmony and good fellowship prevails, which is so characteristic a feature of St. Matthews.
Just as we go to press, I have had a delightful surprise. I had invited my friend Canon Cooper, the Rector of Prestwick, Manchester, to conduct a retreat in St Matthew’s on December 3rd and 4th, but remembering the dreadful crossing he had last year in September and the serious effects it had on him, it was almost too good to expect he would accept. Now, however, he has written a most kind letter, saying he is looking forward to his visit with much pleasure.
The idea of a retreat arose from one or two members of our congregation, who suggested that I should conduct one. It is true I have done so on a very few occasions before coming to the Island, but I do not feel so competent to do so, and perhaps my ministry mat not be entirely helpful to everyone. We know each other very well, and therefore our faults and failings are constantly evident. A more unfamiliar voice can speak with such freshness.
A retreat is for those who really desire to serve our Lord and to know His will. I am persuaded that there are several in our congregation who really do desire this and only wish they knew how to do it better. Will you pray for God’s blessing on our conductor in his preparation?
It is generally agreed that the Oxford movement which brought about the great Anglo Catholic revival in our Church, originated in the famous Assize sermon, preached by John Keble in the University of Oxford on July 14th 1833. We are now therefore within two years of that centenary and already men in various quarters have been considering how best to organise a suitable and impressive celebration of it.
We are glad to note a strong desire on the part of churchmen of every school of thought to observe the centenary, but all will agree it is especially OUR task in the Island, as a centre of Catholic Faith and practice, to plan a worthy celebration. The centenary year ought to mean very great things to us.
As in other Catholic parishes throughout the British Isles, a start has been made at Saint Matthew’s by enrolling all those who wish to join the movement and presenting all such members with a special badge of membership at a cost of 1s each, which we hope they will wear constantly and interest others. A great membership is essential and we trust that every single member of Saint Matthew’s may be relied upon to join.
Remember the centenary preparations in your prayers and at the Holy Communion when offered with special intention for the movement. Enrol now for the centenary. The vicar will gladly supply membership badge and prayer card on receipt of name and address together with 1s. A meeting of all enrolled members to form plans for our local celebration of the centenary year will be announced in due course.
Since my last letter my wife and I have returned from a very enjoyable holiday in Yorkshire, during which we visited several seaside resorts - Scarboro’, Whitby, Filey, and also Morecambe. It is natural to draw comparisons with our rivals, and we returned convinced that for beauty and variety of scenery the Isle of Man far excels them all. We are both of us enthusiasts for Manxland, and I might add, the Manx people, amongst whom we have found so many good friends. But comparing our town in Douglas with those I have mentioned, I am bound to admit that we have far too much bare concrete promenade, unrelieved by trees, grass plots and flower beds such as are found in other places. Similar arcades to the one we possess outside the Villa Marina (an undoubted improvement) are adorned in these towns with a profusion of plants and flowering baskets. The result is perfectly delightful, and I can’t help thinking that if we would really improve the attractiveness of our town, there is hardly a better method.
The churches in Scarboro’ seem very much alive, and it is encouraging to find so many in which the Lord’s own service (Holy Communion) is given the chief place., just as it used to be in the time of the Apostles. That, too, is the case in York Cathedral, where the type of service in its ceremonial is almost exactly the same as our own. After a varied experience in different churches, it was nevertheless a delight to get back to our dear church by the harbour, where the spirit of reverence and worship is so manifest, and to services in which the whole congregation seems to join with heart and soul.
From the Isle of Man Times:
After the official and legal ceremonies, the Bishop, addressing the congregation, said there was probably no task resting on a bishop which was more solemn and responsible than choosing a new vicar, and he assured the parish of St. Matthew’s that he had only one motive in choosing Mr Watson - to secure a parish priest who, above everything else, desired to consecrate his life for the good of the people and for the deepest spiritual interests of the place. Mr Watson had been commended to him by varying types of clergyman including the present headmaster of Eton. For many years Mr and Mrs Watson were responsible for the splendid piece of work done by the Eton school, known as the Eton Mission, in one of the most congested and poorest parts of the great city of London. They would have in their new vicar one of very rich experience in parish work, and in administrative and organising work, and one with a very good academic record. But he had the greatest essential of all; he was a man of definite spiritual conviction, whose aim would be to bring the people committed to his charge to a knowledge of God in Jesus Christ.
My dear People,
The Nativity pageant was performed with great reverence and beauty by our Communicants, and this was helped by a splendid team of workers who put in many hours of devoted service voluntarily. The Pageant has made a great impression on all who saw it, and I have had innumerable expressions of gratitude for the spiritual help it has given them, and the many mental pictures of the Bible scenes of Christ’s birth. Many people went away with tears in their eyes and felt they had been to Bethlehem. It was quite evident our message ‘got across’, as we say, and the Press accounts showed this quite clearly. It was, therefore, amazing that some people took the opportunity, through the newspaper correspondence, not only to belittle the Pageant and the spirit in which it was produced and acted, but to make this beautiful and reverent act of worship another opportunity for an attack on St Matthew’s. Personally, I get rather tired of these one-sided attacks. People imagine that because there are only one or two churches on the Island like St Matthew’s that we are most peculiar, when as a matter of fact there are hundreds like us in England, and the Anglo-Catholic movement grows.
The aim of the movement with which St Matthew’s is identified is nothing less than bringing men, women and children through the full faith of Christendom to the love and service of the Incarnate Son of God.
I believe that the Catholic way - a definite way of life - of Prayer, of Communion, of the daily offering of the Holy Sacrifice, of a living fellowship with the Saints and all the blessed dead - is an assured and tested way whereby the redeemed may find union with their Saviour and Redeemer. That is the way for me, and the way you have been led in the past, and it is up that way I shall try to lead you, however haltingly, whilst I remain
Your Vicar and sincere friend,
Lewis C Watson
My dear People,
My first thought is to wish you a happy and prosperous New Year. A New Year is always full of hope. Time passes, and we do not get younger. Familiar faces that were with us last New Year’s Day are missing. This reminds us of the transistoriness of life which is just a journey to a fuller and happier life beyond. This fuller life can only become an accomplished fact if all our hopes and aspirations are centred on Him who is our Hope. In the Festival of Christmas we have had placed before us the humble picture of the condescending Love of God Incarnate in order that a fallen world may have Hope.Advent has not been kept as well as I should have hoped, and many people have been absent from church. I am sure that the weather and sickness have played a large part in this; indeed it has been an unfortunate time for me, for I have been laid aside for two weeks or more, and I have had to leave many things undone. May I thank all those that have kindly inquired or sent tokens of esteem and all who have kindly taken services for me? It is in times of sickness when one realises one’s true friends.
THE SALE OF WORK
The Press gave us excellent reports, but one or two people should be mentioned who are not members of our congregation. We were grateful to our two openers, Mr Clegg and Mr Farrant, who spent a lot of time and money at the Sale. We were fortunate in securing the kindly services of Mr F.D. Johnson to auction the pictures given by Her Majesty the Queen. We were also glad to see Mrs Stanton Jones among the purchasers and many other well known ladies who came to show their sympathy. We were sorry that Mr Gale, the verger, could not be with us during the Sale owing to an accident sustained whilst erecting the stalls. We must congratulate the coupon sellers (especially Mr Duggan) on their energy and powers of persuasion in selling coupons. Finally we must say a very big ‘Thank you’ to the band led by Mr Bert Ralph and obtained through the kindness of Mr H Harris.
Lewis C Watson
My dear people,
Easter will probably be over before you read this. I hope and trust that those who have been so regular during Lent will keep it up after Easter for that is always the test. Many devout people make an effort during Lent, but slack off when Easter is over. But Lent is surely meant to help us after Easter as well as before.
I have been kept very busy these last few weeks in sick visiting, and it is a cause of thankfulness that so many look for the ministrations of the priest. At one time there were no less than seven people attached to St Matthew’s in one ward in the Hospital. Two men asked to have their Communions, and this needed some courage, I am sure, in days that can hardly be called the ‘age of faith’. In passing may I pay a tribute to the members and staff at the Hospital, and the readiness to help to prepare patients for their Communions. This understanding of the Matron, Sisters and Nurses is a great help in the common task of healing body and soul.
I am beginning Confirmation classes immediately after Easter. This year I propose to have an even longer preparation than last year because I find after even the most careful preparation some have not fully understood their obligations.
The annual meeting was held last month, and an excellent state of affairs was shown. The uniforms have all been paid for, and the debt on the instruments is being gradually reduced. Under the able conductorship of Mr T. Lewin, the Band has progressed, and there is a splendid team spirit and plenty of new blood, if the noise on certain nights is anything to go by! May the recruits soon learn to play the cornets!
My dear People,
The first thing I must refer to is that Fr. Taggart has written to say he cannot come to our Patronal Festival but he has offered to come to our Children’s Festival. I have written accepting his offer and asking him to open our garden fete as he did last year.. It will be a good opportunity for his friends to meet him again, and he will receive a warm welcome to his old parish.. The garden fete will be in aid of the New Electric Blower and New Boiler Fund.
THE CHOIR AND BAND are to be congratulated on their successes in the Manx Guild. The choir won the Sharp Column for the first time. And the band quartette won the first prize for the first time. The Girl Guide Troop put up a splendid performance in the country dancing and were bracketed third.
This was kept as usual, with the exception that on Rogation Sunday we went to the Quayside in procession to ask for God’s blessing on the visiting industry and the fishermen and boatmen. Another year I hope to organise this on a larger scale.
My dear People,
We have had our children’s Festival, which was a most happy day. We had the pleasure of a visit from Fr. Taggart, who, although far from well, preached two fine sermons and spoke very nicely to our children. The outdoor procession through the streets was most beautiful and well organized. I should like to express my appreciation to the parents of our children who saw to it that the children looked their best that day. In their pretty frocks and hats, carrying new nosegays of flowers, the little ones holding on to the banner streamers and the wee ones holding little banners. All helped to make the procession a beautiful sight. There were crowds of people to witness the children’s witness to their Lord and His Church, and I have never seen more cameras busy. I think these outdoor witnesses are a great help, and they teach and encourage the children not to be afraid of witnessing to their faith in the open. We sang our Festival hymns at two stations and these were appreciated by the people in the vicinity. The band was in particularly good form and was a great help as usual. Altogether it was a happy day.
My Dear People,
I hope Mr. Kirkpatrick will be ordained priest shortly, and I hope you will all pray for him that his ministry may have God’s blessing and he may be a blessing to many souls and be a good priest. ‘The office and work of a priest in the ‘Church of God’ entails great responsibilities, as you will see if you read carefully the ‘Ordering of Priests’ in your Prayer Book. It means something more than being merely popular. A man may be quite a good preacher and quite good at games or he may be a ‘good fellow’ socially, and yet be a failure as a priest. A priest is one who has a ‘cure of souls’, and therefore must have in his heart a deep longing to bring people to Christ. He must be prepared to give himself up entirely to that work, for that is his ‘calling’. It does not mean a 48-hour week but it means at any time, day or night, he may be on duty. There is much more one could say on ‘the work and office of a priest’, but I only want to ask you to pray for Mr. Kirkpatrick that he may be a ‘good priest’.
My Dear People,
By the time you receive your magazine I shall be far away for my holidays. The first two weeks will be a ‘busman’s holiday’ as I am organising the annual Summer School of the UMCA (Universities Mission to Central Africa) this year at Abingdon-on-the-Thames. It is nine years since I organised the first one. We then had 32 students for the inside of a week. It has grown to such an extent that this year we shall have 96 staff and students the first week and about 86 the second week. I have been honoured this year by being asked to be the chaplain the second week. The school is being held at one of the boarding schools run by the ‘Wantage Sisters’, and is delightfully situated and only four miles from Oxford. My wife is being responsible for the catering. This will be a huge task, but she always has a willing band of voluntary helpers. It will be hard work, but it is a great change from parochial life, and the delightful atmosphere of friendliness of scores of people all keen about missions and keen to know more about Africa is stimulating and refreshing in spite of the organising work
My dear Friends,
Our Patronal Festival is over and we have had a happy time. Our numbers can never be very great because it falls just at the end of the season, when everyone is tired and many are just going away or are already away. This year the day coincided with the opening of our organ with its new electric blowing apparatus. It was a joy to hear it once again, and the choir evidently appreciated it, if the singing was anything to go by. Most of you will have read in the leaflet I sent round for the Patronal Festival the position with regard to the heating and lighting of our Church and Schools. After a very long discussion the Council decided to reheat the Church by a hot-water radiator system which would, at the same time, keep the Schools warm. This new system will cost £212 and has been placed in the hands of Messrs Todhunter and Eliot. The Council decided to relight the Church and Schools by electricity.
My dear people,
I expect most of you will know that I am going out to Central Africa, for a trip of four months, to the Universities Mission to Central Africa1. A member of the UMCA Council offered to pay all my expenses if I would go. It so happened that the only time that I could visit Central Africa (when the rains are over) is the summer when most of you are busy with visitors. I felt that I could not shirk what seemed to me a great opportunity of widening my own knowledge of the mission which I have loved and worked for so long, and which you have supported for so many years. I consulted the Bishop, and he readily consented, and has given me leave of absence, and very kindly looks upon it as an honour for the Diocese that I should be asked to go. I shall sail on the last day of April, and shall visit the Dioceses of Zanzibar and Masasi, and return in early September.
Although we had extremely bad weather when the Bishop came (for the first time) to our Sung Eucharist, there was quite a good congregation to welcome him and hear his message. He dedicated our heating and lighting systems, which are most affective.. It was a great joy to me, and I know to all who were present, to have him with us at our Sung Eucharist for although our service is elaborate, he felt that everything was done reverently and in a spirit of devotion to the Lord Christ, and I hope he will come and worship with us again in the near future.
(1. In 1965 UMCA merged with Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts to form the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel which St. Matthew's still supports)
The church, as the Body of Christ, calls you each year during Lent to ‘take stock’ of your spiritual life and to make a spiritual ‘spring cleaning’ of your soul. Half the churches today live on stunts, and we might almost say ‘the church that doesn’t advertise is lost’. It is pathetic how in these modern days the church and her parsons and ministers have to strain every nerve to get a few extra people to come to church or any place of worship even on a Sunday. We advertise, send our special appeals, cajole plead, send personal invitations and the like, to try and persuade people to come to God’s House. But think of the early church when her members were persecuted, driven about from place to place and put to death. Read Acts 2 verse 42, ‘They continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers.’
Let every confirmed Christian who reads these words ask himself or herself - ‘Have I the steadfastness and fervour of the early Christians? Do I hear the Apostles’ doctrine every Lord’s Day or only when it suits me? Do I join the fellowship of Christians all worshipping and praising God Sunday by Sunday? Do I continue in prayer, or have I given them up or say them perfunctorily?’
Isle of Man Times, 3 September, 1938
From the MNH iMuseum
After the service at which he preached at St. Matthew’s Church on Sunday evening, the Rev H.S.Taggart stood in the porch and shook hands with each member of the congregation.
Vicar for many years (and his father before him) at St. Matthew’s, he was without doubt the most popular clergyman in the Isle of Man, and many of his old friends, who held him in great affection, attended the service. Father and son took part. The Rev. J Paul Taggart of Grantham, son of the Rev. H.S.Taggart, read the lessons.
A welcome to them was given by the Rev. L.C.Watson, the present vicar.
At the beginning of his sermon, the Rev.H.S.Taggart spoke of the pleasure it was to see so many of his friends again, and his thankfulness for the privilege of being allowed to worship once again ‘in these dear walls’. He preached a heartening sermon, pointing out that it was the Christian’s faith not to despair of the present and desire the past, but in the knowledge that Christ lived, to look forward with hope to the future.
The Manx Fisherman’s Evening Hymn was sung during the service. The St. Matthew’s Band played selections outside the church.