Waiting for The Carol Service

“”Once upon a time, I used to sing in the choir. In my day we wore white surplice, violet robe with ladies and girls sporting a three cornered hat. The small ones, girls and boys wore a frilly ruff and hated them!

Times change and St Giles Singers no longer sport the traditional garb, although always smartly turned out; and boys and girls no longer tug at ruffs, but the singing is angelic and I am waiting patiently for Sunday Evening’s  9 Lessons and Carols. 

This year I haven’t been able to sit in on the Singing Practices so there will be surprises, but no surprise can equal the one given  the shepherds out in the fields when the angel of the Lord showed up. Smelly Shepherds, in that day were held in as much respect as those who live on the streets today, unprepared,  ( we use that word in our Communion Service ~ “our hearts were unprepared”) wearing grubby apparel, sleeping in the open doing nothing to enhance their appearance, those shepherds were the last people expecting the Angel of the Lord, yet appear He did, together with a multitude of heavenly beings, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14] (E.S. V)

I look forward to the Carol Service, and unprepared as I am, to seeing peace reigning on the earth.

Lord, I  pray for gentlenes, and your strength to be forgiving.  Lord Jesus  I ask for patience that I might understand and the blessing of endurance like yours to stand for all things that are just, and right, holy and good that I may know your peace and praise God aright all my days.Amen

(Image Pixabay)

Towards Christmas

St Giles Church, Rowley Regis circa 1840

My friend Ken, often says Rowley folk have been a little careless with their churches, because we have had 4 churches on the top of the hill since 1199, that’s a long time, since before Magna Carta was signed, there has been a church on the hill, and even before the church was built a churchyard. We are coming to the end of 2017, frosty nights and mornings begin to make their presence felt and the churchyard trees are almost stripped bare; the crab apples have disappeared into squirrel larders, or maybe visiting badgers have enjoyed midnight picnics.

It seems strange, looking at this old drawing, that once upon a time, there were no trees; and so few gravestones, back in those days, Rowley was a village with very few houses, the tall building on the right, we called the ‘Mansion House’ when I was growing up – it wasn’t demolished until the early 1970s – all things change. Time doesn’t stand still, but I would like to think that tomorrow’s children will still have trees, that blue-tits, robins, woodpeckers and a friendly owl will still be around, and that the present 4th Church will still be playing host for School Carol Services, that the great tenor bell cast in Tudor times will still be calling out welcome to visitors to the Christmas Midnight Service, and that loving hands will be making a Holly Crown for the Advent Candles.

Who knows what the years may bring? It’s December 1st  and Joyce Walker is taking a winter break, dreaming a dream, that our old churchyard, and long forgotten stories will spring to new life as The Living Churchyard Project unfolds – but first the Winter,  Carols, Christmas the Snow. 

Is this really Santa?  Maybe Larry Emms, St Giles neighbour and friend knows?

“Thank you Larry, Terry, and the, so very many, more Rowley friends who came to visit the Christmas Fayre in the Church Hall – you helped raise £1679 towards keeping the children warm as they visit church over Christmas.”  ~ from The Churchwardens, (Yvonne and Jean) and the Elves.

When cleaning a church…

Here are couple of new faces I came across when cleaning church this week.


He is Big Spender this one, I am sure of it, and this …

…..this is his honey, waiting, all starry eyed ….

for him to pop the question this coming May Day at the Scarecrow Wedding of the year.

We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of some of the country’s best dressed scarecrow guests for this event organised by Joyce Walker, and husband Dave. It is a free to come and all scarecrows and friends are welcome. This event launches a new initiative to care for Rowley’s oldest Churchyard and to ensure a peaceful, restful place for young and old to enjoy in future years.


And this is just what a weary cleaner needed. Arranged by Carole Annetts in a big, basketwork cup and saucer.

A cup of sunshine

Happy holiday weekend to all

St Giles Singers Celebrate The Queens 90th Birthday

St Giles Singers are getting in Tune for a special concert to mark the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Their programme includes popular songs from the decade of Her Majesty’s long and glorious life, so there should be something to stir up our memories, set us humming and tapping our feet.

Reverend Ian Shelton, Music Director Agata Beaman and St Giles Singers warmly invite you to join us in St Giles Church, (Rowley’s Parish Church) on

Saturday, June 11tn, 7:00pm for an evening of celebration of our Queen’s remarkable life of service to our Nation and to us her people




God Save Our Queen
Long May She Reign

Getting Ready


Jemima may be sitting pretty waiting for eggs to hatch, but at Rowley church feathers are ruffled, and there are plenty of quacks, squawks, squeaks and other sounds of intense activity, and enjoyment; as St Giles folk get prepared for this year’s Summer Fayre and Flower Festival.

The Fayre begins at 12:00 noon in the Church Hall, Hawes Lane, Saturday 4th June.

Back in February, the Hall completed 60 years of service to Rowley’s Community, but I think Peter Rabbit has never visited before which explains the flurry of excitement.

Will the cottage be painted in time?

Please come along and meet Peter and Beatrix on Saturday the 4th, and enjoy an afternoon of fun. All your usual stalls will be there, the Bottle Stall is being abundantly stocked, every one’s favourite home baked cakes, Tom-bola, Fancy Goods plus one or two surprises more. The Kitchen is looking to its menu to provide excellent refreshments for you to sample as you catch up with the gossip … Come…see

The Flower Festival, over the road in Church is also being carefully prepared for with Beatrix and her cheery, characters providing us with delight.

Date: Saturday 4th June 2016
Time; 12:00 Noon onwards
Venue: Rowley Church Hall and St Giles Parish Church, Rowley Regis
Rowley Church

Year End

The past few weeks have been busy, jam-packed with happy memories. Here are just a few.


A busy craft table at Messy Church, 6th December. Numbers are growing at Messy Church life is getting exciting and real messy. Thought it best not to choose the photo of the marbles rolling in ink!


The Christmas Fayre November 28th: There was plenty of Frozen Magic with princesses Anna and Elsa … The ice castle was perfect to hide away Santa, thank you Princess Elsa. The cake stall attracted plenty of visitors, getting to crowded for photos so here are a couple taken as it was being set up.







St Giles looked really stunning this year, here are just a few photos, Carol Annetts and team created little spaces for quiet contemplation amongst the twinkling lights of Christmas Trees, there was s smaller tree in every window space, plenty of oohs and aahs from visiting infant and primary schools. This year Blackheath Primary, Rowley Hall, Westminster Special School and St Michaels Church School all held their Carol Services in Church.

Our own Carol Service with St Giles Singers under the direction of Mrs Agata Beaman, was attended by The Worshipful Mayor of Sandwell, Councillor Price her consort Councillor Bob Price, and Deputy Mayor Councillor Julie Price. Tenor, Brian Williams gave a solo rendition of Susser die Glockenspiel nie Klingon – sweeter the bells never sound ~ St Michael’s brass band bought the evening by reminding us “That it’s only just begun” Truly a memorable 9 Lessons and Carols.

The crib Service, 4:00pm Christmas Eve was very well attended, visiting children were invited to take part in telling the Christmas story as they came in, no child refused, and with Agata’s gentle encouragement sang Away in a Manger with a tenderness that bought tears to some eyes.

The Midnight Eucharist saw church filled to capacity, and the simple service on Christmas morning, bought visitors from Perth, Australia and Durban, South Africa.

The stained glass window depicting Saint Joseph, Virgin Mary and baby can be found in Saint Giles Lady Chapel. The crown of thorns and holly berries found on the Lady Chapel window sill remind us that the baby in the Manger became the Saviour on the Cross.

Happy New Year everyone. May you be blessed!

The Nativity (beneath the altar)

We Are Getting Ready….

St Giles, (better known as Rowley) Church is hustling, bustling, getting ready:

Ready for Saturday 28th November and a Christmas Fayre with a ‘Frozen’ theme in the Church Hall, over in Hawes Lane. We are expecting Royalty.. Princesses Anna and Elsa, no less, and of course Father Christmas. Just so our V.I.P. Visitors feel right at home, an Ice Castle is being purposely built for them.

But, this is all very hush, hush, we don’t want to spoil the surprise for their Majesties, just to say the Fair opens at noon and all children are welcome to come to join the Parade in Fancy Dress, and things will feel far from ‘frozen’ a warm, friendly welcome is extended to all. Admission is free, and there will be plenty of ideas for Christmas gifts, so, come—see.

(From the Disney Film, Frozen)

Ready for Advent
We will be joined by friends from the neighbouring parishes of St Paul’s, Blackheath and St James’, Rounds Green for an Advent Sunday Communion Service on the 29th. Time 10:15am. All are very welcome.

Traditional Advent Candle Wreath.

Ready for the Christmas Season

Sunday 6th December, at 10:15am Holy Communion/Toy/Christingle Service. We bring new toys as gifts to local children in need, for distribution by our local food bank Loaves N’Fishes, we bring our offerings for the work of the Children’s Society… I love helping to make the Christingles; getting ready for Christmas is good for us, I reckon, and brings out the best in us, as we take thought and do for others. I suppose the Magi bringing gifts to a poor, child can be considered Role Models.

I look forward to watching the faces of little ones from our local primary Schools, Rowley Hall, Blackheath Primary as the altar frontal a are thrown back for them to take a peek, before Christmas Day at the Crib figures in the hay in the altar/stable. Nothing can match the glow of the child fortunate enough to hold ‘baby’ Jesus just for a few moments. Perhaps they have been blessed to hold baby brothers or sisters, at home with Mom and Dad looking on, I don’t know, but it always seems to me, that children and Jesus hold each other in their hearts, and that they really do meet each other at His Manger Bed.

Street Nativity Scene-Barcelona


We celebrated Harvest Festival today.

Harvest Festivals in the 21st Century are not like those the Church Mouse talks about in his poem,
Click here to listen to poem: Diary of a Church Mouse

produce arrives in tins, packets, bottles and jars: at St Giles we donate those to Loaves ‘N Fishes, a local Food Bank. The vegetables come from supermarket shelves, all carefully graded in size; gone are the days when the gardeners competed with each other to bring along the biggest onions, cauliflowers, and the longest, straightest carrots.

Gone to are the days of growing glorious Chrysanthemums in glowing golds and bronzes, I recall a well loved uncle spending weeks and weeks carefully nurturing and pinching out all the side shoots leaving just one flower bud right on the top. to create a ‘bloomer’ which would then disappear beneath a brown paper bag, protected from insects, and soiling until the day of its unveiling. In those days, working class people had no conservatory, or glass houses, such things were beyond their dreams. In those days your dreams were small ones, limited to the size of a man’s wage.

But, small as dreams and wages were, hearts were large and generous and only the best was good enough for Harvest Festival.

Here is a true tale about real, true Black Country folk.

Doris was a flower arranger, and Doris liked to arrange the flowers by the altar for the Harvest Festival. Every year she would peek from her bedroom window, watching the paper bags in Mr B’s garden. Every year she would ask in advance for some of the precious blooms. Which were duly cut for her as required.

“I always pay for them,” she told another neighbour.

“She always takes my best ‘bloomers’ – I’d like to keep some for the Churchyard,” Mr B, confided to the same neighbour, ” But what can’t say no. I don’t grow them to sell, but for ….”

“Love,” the neighbour replied, understanding that Mr B’s devotion and care for the chrysanthemums matched his love and devotion to his late wife.

“Look Mr B. Do you know what Doris wants them for?”

She went on to explain the pride of place the treasured blooms would occupy.

“‘Er ay never tow’d me that, me luvver. Well ‘er ay ever gooin to pay agen. An next year I’m gooin to grow twice as meny. I dey know that. That’s an ‘onner, that is.”

Apologies to scholars of the Black Country Dialect. I have probably done a great injustice to the spelling…. But not, I hope to Yesteryear Black Country folk who had little in material goods, but were rich in generosity. And would have shared over garden walls, and back fences the things they grew with needy neighbours, and in days before Food Banks, whatever today’s dinner was…

Times change. Love never changes.



Photos taken around St Giles Church, the amazing St Giles Flower Girls have been at work again.

A Sparrow’s view of a wonderful day.

Sunday 13th September, 2015
St Giles Church Rowley Regis

The distinguished guests have moved on.

The organ is silent, the trumpet and singers, the happy crowd has moved on to lay down in memory the record of a grand occasion. A Civic Service with The Worshipful Mayor of Sandwell, Councillor Barbara Price, who looked radiant, and in this her year of Office will, we are sure fulfil every engagement and duty perfectly.

Since her election as councillor in June 2004, Councillor Price has served the people of Rowley well, the restored War Memorial, outside in the Churchyard owes much to her thoughtful care, and determination that the names of the Village fallen in WW1 should shine out once more.

And, now the Parish Church of St Giles, welcomed her as Mayor of the Borough, the Rowley Regis Mace preceded her with due ceremonial, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Mr Stewart Towe C.B.E. representing the Queen, the High Sheriff, visiting Mayors, Deputy Mayors, Chief Executive of SMBC, Aldermen, Councillors, consorts, British Legion Standard Bearers, 1st Rowley Scouts all present and standing to mark and witness Barbara’s Act of Dedication.

Now, a sparrow had no camera at hand to record history in the making, and a sparrow’s song could not compare with Misericordias Domini in aeternum the splendid, happy Anthem sung by St Giles Singers, but a sparrow hiding in her nest was very happy, to be there and secretly to play her part, watching as the new Mayor was presented with a bouquet by a young person representing St Michael’s School, a sparrow. silently offered up a prayer, that Rowley’s new Mayor, and all present may be blessed.


Now church is empty, just me, a church sparrow sitting in my nest reflecting on the events of a wonderful day. A church you know, is never empty, and the silence it knows is awesome. It is the silence of eternity, and in eternity an angel choir is singing.

“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever”