Anglicans Online banner More about the gryphon
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 250,000 readers More than 30,000 links Updated every Sunday
Will you help support
Anglicans Online?

The Paypal logotype

Noted This Week
Sites new to AO

News Centre
News archive

News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe...
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
About our logo

Our search engine

An angel by Blake, who knew themHallo again to all.

Our Eastertide has been fairly staid since last Sunday—busy, to be sure, in many ways, but somehow not as joyful we think it ought to be. We've been to church, sang hymns lustily, eaten large and delicious meals. But relatives and some of our closest friends have been far away; we've run up against deadlines and upcoming travel that both came sooner than expected; we feel a bit in over our heads this Quasimodo Sunday. All the same, we're meant to have joy anyway. Easter is a feast of almost mandatory joy, ending Lent with the ringing of bells, and the proclamation of the resurrection. What's to be done by those who are glad that the fast is over, who give real thanks for the truth of Easter morning, but who still aren't quite bouncing off the walls with delight for every moment of each of the great fifty days?

Last night, we got a clue when we prayed the following prayer just before bed.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for thy love's sake. Amen.

We have prayed these words thousands of times on their own, always amazed at their simplicity, power, comprehensiveness, succinct pulling-together of all the night-time wishes we can bring to God in Christ. This prayer is one of the best riches of our rich tradition. Last night something about it was different. We know by name good friends who are sick, who sleep, who weep, who are weary, afflicted, dying, suffering. It is normal for us to ask God's protection for them. The words 'shield the joyous; and all for thy love's sake' caught us afresh, though. We've always counted ourselves in the general company of the joyous, and wondered why this prayer should single us out for special protection.

Mustn't we be joyous, especially right now? Isn't joy the thing too often missing in Anglicanism, one of the emotions with the least traction in too many of our lives, parishes, institutions, periodicals? So why shield the joyous, even during Eastertide? Everything looks a little different today from the other side of joy.

This fine part of the Book of Common Prayer reminds us that joy can place us—not entirely unlike affliction, suffering, sickness, weariness—in a position of fragility. Joy can be a side-effect of the certainty that we are right in the moment, in church controversy or in blog comments, correct in an argument with a friend, above all less vulnerable than we really are. Joy can blind us to the real needs of those around us. Joy can knock us off balance if we forget that it is something to be shared rather than just enjoyed. In this collect, we see joy as subject along with sorrow and every other emotion to the lordship of Christ and the transfiguring power of his resurrection.

We're praying on this Low Sunday that we're being shielded just momentarily from the possible effects of overmuch joy. When we're ready for it again in God's time, we hope we'll know it in good measure and be able to share it in even greater measure. It's the angels, in the meantime, who have charge over us—they like stars appearing who fear to tread where fools rush in, and who guide our feet in the way of peace. And above it all, we know Christ rises, and that our redeemer liveth. Alleluia.

See you next week.

?" Our signature
All of us at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 11 April 2010

A thin blue line
This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2010 Society of Archbishop Justus
. Please address all spam to