The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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February 2017


Judy East

“Why, what’s the matter
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”    (Don Pedro, Much Ado about Nothing)

“February Fill-Dyke” *

For some reason February has a bad reputation.  Is it because Christmas and Epiphany are behind us and what is there to look forward to except more winter?  But if, like me, you long for the lighter evenings (I don’t care about mornings, I’m not a morning person) then take heart - we are several weeks past the winter solstice and the days ARE getting longer. And short or long, we have plenty for you to do to fill in those cold, cheerless days.

February is an interesting time in the church as we turn away from the winter festival and look towards Lent.  This year Father Stephen has been commissioned to write the Lent Course for Churches Together in Hampstead  so we can share our deliberations ecumenically in weekly groups.  There’ll be more about venues in the pewsheets nearer the time.

A note about sermons
We can only reprint one sermon each month in the magazine and it’s difficult sometimes to decide which one to use (I always welcome suggestions) so if you want to catch up on any you missed, or revisit one you heard and enjoyed, they are all on the parish website (well, usually!) and there’ll be a hard copy in the file on the magazine table which you’re welcome to take home and read at your leisure.

We have three concerts this month.  Our regular lunchtime recital on Wednesday 1st will be given by Duo Asteria (Corinna Hentschel, violin  and Guilio Poggia, piano), Aidan Coburn is bringing his Colle Voce Singers for “Our Lady of Lourdes”, a concert of music of The Song of Songs on 11th, then on 25th we have the Sidwell Memorial Recital, given this year by our soprano Christine Buras.

Sidwell Memorail Reciatl is now on May 12th

It’s time for the  Voluntary Rate
You don’t know about the voluntary rate? Let me explain.  We are allowed, as a parish church, to levy a voluntary rate, based on council tax bands, on everyone living in the parish (no, it isn’t a special dispensation for Hampstead Parish Church - all parish churches can do this).  This typically brings in between £5,000 and £6,000 a year so is well worth doing.  But - as with so many other things in the church - we can’t do it without a lot of help from everyone in the congregation.  A mailing  to every household comes to around 4,500 letters : 4,500 letters to be put in 4.500 envelopes, along with a leaflet outlining our regular and special services and such events as the Spring Fair.  This year we are doing it early enough to tell everyone about Father Jeremy’s induction on 16th March.   So on Friday 24th February we will have all the letters ready, the coffee perking and lunch prepared - all we need is all of you to turn up and help.  We start at 10.30 and usually finish between 2.30 and 3.30pm depending on the number of helpers. We’ve made it a Friday because the next day is the Sidwell Recital (see above) and we really hope to get it all done and not have to come back on Saturday morning!

Our charities
The charity featured this month (Traidcraft) is in a slightly different position from our other charities in that we don’t donate money to them but seek to earn it by sales at our monthly Sunday morning stall in the Crypt Room.  People sometimes complain that our prices are high - well, yes, that’s rather the point. Traidcraft supports producers by paying a fair price for their goods and then, of course, has to pass on that price to us, the consumers.  But isn’t it worth it, to know that somewhere someone is able to live a better life because you paid a little more for your pasta?   To give an indication of what they do you’ll find examples in this issue or you can follow this link to their website and browse through their programmes.  Or you can join one of their campaigns at  And don’t miss next month’s Big Brew Day (5th March) - put it in your diary now!

Living Book Club
If you haven’t discovered this yet I recommend this month’s talk on Angela Burdett-Coutts who sounds a very entertaining character with eclectic tastes in philanthropy!  Sunday 5th February at 3pm in the Crypt Room.

Tea Services
Something else you may not know about.   Also held once a month, on the second Sunday of the month at 3pm, this is a short service mainly aimed at elderly or infirm people who may find it difficult to cope with the longer morning and evening services. It consists of  well-known hymns, a short address and prayers and lasts only 30 minutes.  And it’s followed by tea and lively conversation at the back of church. The dedicated group of people who run it would like it to be better known so that they can feel they’re reaching more of the people they want to serve.  If you know someone who you think might enjoy it do bring them along. 
So - lots ahead to help us shake off the February blues.

* February Fill Dyke
A famous Victorian landscape, February Fill Dyke was greeted with lukewarm reviews when it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1881. With later showings in Manchester for the Royal Jubilee Exhibition, it became very popular. The scene is actually a November evening after rain. The title is taken from an old country rhyme:

February fill the dyke, Be it black or be it white;
But if it be white ‘Tis the better to like.

You’ll have to go to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to see the original - or google it of course.        

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