Kirkdale Compositions



Miscellaneous items variously associated with Kirkdale.

New items of a similar kind always welcome!


Kirkdale in December

Found in a book of 19th century newspaper cuttings; signed 'A.R.'; communicated by Lorna Watts
1.  O leafless trees, O ice-bound brook,
    O fallen leaves all dead and sere;
How chilling and how deathly falls
    The cold breath of the changing year.
2.  The old earth sleeps in spotless robes, 
     In cloudless frosty light, -
And glistening bright as clustered gems,
     The snow lies pure and white.
3.  But pearly snow, and nipping frost,
     And hoary rime must vanish soon;
And once again the land shall throb
     With all the life of balmy June.
4.  Unstirred by every quickening pulse
     That yearly leaps to life around,
The seed sown with such bitter tears,
     Lies in God's Acre's hallowed ground.
5.  Where monkish hymns and monkish feet
     Were known within this wooded glen, -
And all our hardy fathers feared
     The war-cry of the Northern men; -
6.  Even then perchance, the funeral chant
    Had echoed in the lonely wood;
So long ago, the sorrowing monks
    Beside the open grave had stood.
7.  For centuries now, in this lone vale,
   In an unbroken stillness lie
The treasures that the riven heart
   Gave up with many a heart-felt sigh.
8.  Yet even those who sleep so long,
   God's quickening touch shall wake at last;
In changeless summer, blighted hearts
   Shall find their winter over-past.

A Hymn for Gregory

Tune: Laudate Dominum [O praise ye the Lord] or Hanover [O worship the King]

Copyright Robin Brown 2006. First sung at St Gregory's Bedale, September 2003


1.  Monk Gregory's fame come let us report,

Whose love for his Lord inspired every thought;

Who sent his apostle to this island race

To strengthen the English, to win them to grace.


2.  O come, let us tell how he of high birth

State office renounced for things of more worth:

Though perfect patrician, his ancestral home

Converted to serve the poor people of Rome.


3.  Though Bishop and Pope, chose monk to remain,

Defended the weak, deplored wrongful gain,

Sought justice with mercy, just judgements set forth,

And Benedict's teachings spread wide, west and north.


4.  God's consul to be, God's servants to serve,

Was all his desire, deep peace to preserve.

His care and his writings, his notes firm and strong

Enrich still our serving, our worship, our song.


5.  May we who today his legacy share

Be patient and bold to live out God's care:

Inspired by example, from slavery free,

Not Angles but angels, God's messengers be.


6.  As echo these walls with centuries' praise

His deeds we recall from far distant days:

The best of the Romans a pattern we find

for honouring Jesus with heart, soul and mind.

Let the Kings of all the Islands

A Festal Hymn for Gregory the Great, Apostle of the English

Copyright 2009 S.A.J.Bradley & Trustees of St Gregory's Minster Kirkdale. May be sung to Genevan Psalm 42 (New English Hymnal 229)

Gregory's (imagined) prayers for the English nation are based on the narrative of Bede's Ecclesiastical History and invoke several Messianic passages from the Old Testament.

"How is the king of that province called?" They told him his name was Ælle; and he, punning on the name, said: "Alleluia! The praise of God the creator must be sung in those parts."


1.  Let the kings of all the islands

bring Him presents of their store!

Let all kings bow down before Him,

nations serve Him and adore!

Alleluia let them sing!
Alleluia to the King!

To the poor comes consolation,

to the needy their salvation!


2.  They shall live and they shall bless Him

who alone does wondrous deeds.

Righteousness and peace shall flourish;

earth shall yield her fruits and seeds.

Alleluia let them sing!
Alleluia to the King!

To the poor comes consolation,

to the needy their salvation!


3.  And the dale shall be exalted,

where his faithful congregate,

level laid shall be the mountain,

and the crooked way made straight:

Alleluia let them sing!
Alleluia to the King!

To the poor comes consolation,

to the needy their salvation!


4.  Let them learn His might and glory

when he fashioned heaven and earth;

let them know his loving-kindness

when His Son took human birth:

Alleluia let them sing!
Alleluia to the King!

To the poor comes consolation,

to the needy their salvation!


5.  May they know the faith of Mary

when she said: His will be done.

May their homage never falter:

Hail! blest Mother of The Son!

Alleluia let them sing!
Alleluia to the King!

To the poor comes consolation,

to the needy their salvation!


6.  Let the Cross be raised before them,

token of His power to save;

glorified that Easter morning

when he rose up from the grave!

Alleluia let them sing!
Alleluia to the King!

To the poor comes consolation,

to the needy their salvation!


7.  May their ancient name remind them

of a hope beyond this world -

hope of glory with the angels

when his judgement is unfurled:

Alleluia let them sing!
Alleluia to the King!

To the poor comes consolation,

to the needy their salvation!


8.  Let the praise of their Creator

ever in their church be sung -

praise unstinting, praise unceasing!

Let the bells in praise be rung!

Alleluia let them sing!
Alleluia to the King!

To the poor comes consolation,

to the needy their salvation!


9.  Praise we God the loving Father,

praise we Christ the living Son,

praise the Comforter, the Spirit,

praise the Godhead, Three in One!

Alleluia let us sing!
Alleluia to the King!

To the poor comes consolation,

to the needy our salvation!

The Kirkdale Pilgrim's Prayer

Copyright 2013 S.A.J.Bradley & Trustees of St Gregory's Minster Kirkdale. Translated and adapted from the Anglo-Saxon Journey Charm.

A setting by Carole Readman is available.

Forth I now fare: may I meet with friends,

and ever dwell in the Almighty's peace,

defended from foes that would fetter my soul.

safely encompassed by angelic hosts

and held in Heaven-Ruler's holy hand

for the while that I wend in this world. Amen.

The Friends' & Parish Pilgrimage October 2013

Published in the Benefice Magazine 2014 (SAJB)


When that October with his showers so wet

was nigh half done, as pilgrims forth we set.

From Kirkdale up to Lindisfarne our road -

not walking, but in comfy cars well stowed.

We stopped but once - in Jarrow - there to feed

and pay respects to Venerable Bede.

Good time we kept - for, had we come too late,

tidal immersion would have been our fate.

But safe in Marygate we settled, while

the tide turned Lindisfarne into an isle.

Good cheer prevailed. Snug were our beds; our fare

fit for restoring a pilgrim's wear and tear.

Some rose from sleep at unaccustomed hours

to see the sun rise (or get first to showers);

some were in church soon after crack of dawn

and hungry home to breakfast came, reborn.

Through talks we sat, on Cuthbert's deals with God;

and we too walked the sea-bed, all dry-shod!

Some to the tavern wended of a night -

but with the Vicar present, all was right.

And Cuthbert's friends we met - the curious seals,

unfearing eiderducks and trusting teals.

From Bebbanburh we viewed Farne's fearsome rocks

and tales we heard from Bede, of Cuthbert's socks;

and saw the beam spared burning (so we'd read)

because it pillowed dying Aidan's head.

Quaint tales, no doubt, and some that raised a laugh -

and yet ... tales telling of Man's better half?

(For timely meditations gently led

to deeper thoughts in thoughtful pilgrim's head).

And over all the sun shone down benign

(except when it didn't) - for sure, a heavenly sign.

The charismatic Island worked its spell:

we trod, we knew, where saintly footsteps fell

of Aidan, Cuthbert, Bede and many more,

while endless tides and ages washed its shore.

And so, through Chester on the Street, in rain,

to Durham - where the sun shone bright again.

And there, with "folk from every shirës ende",

we stood and thanked V. Bede as a new Friend.

True pilgrims now, maybe with moistened eyes

we came at last to where good Cuthbert lies:

And - surely filled with friendship, love and charity -

wild flowers we laid, with all solemnity.

And there - on that (alas) imperfect rhyme -

our pilgrimage was done. So ... back through time,

back to the daily round, the common task.

But say! Who fixed all this? we hear you ask.

The names of those who led shall not be hid:

the one was Andrew, and the other Sid.

Peace on Earth!

May be sung to a traditional Tyrolean tune, Es wird scho glei dumpa. Setting available.

Copyright S.A.J.Bradley & Trustees of St Gregory's Minster Kirkdale 2009


1.  So runs the old story: That angels once sang,

ablaze with God's glory, till earth and sky rang

with joy and with hope at a child's lowly birth -

"Good will to all peoples, and peace upon earth!"

Peace on earth! Peace on earth!

Blessèd peace upon earth.


2.  Untold generations have passed since that night,

and neighbours and nations have stayed not the fight.

The angels are silenced. Will strife never cease?

Nor goodwill prevail? Will this world not seek peace?

Peace on earth! Peace on earth!

Give us peace on the earth.


3.  That child born so lowly midst nations at strife

left words wise and holy, to light us through life:

Show love to your neighbour, as though to your own,

forgive, and forbear, and a seed shall be sown.

Peace on earth! Peace on earth!

Seed of peace on the earth.

A Kirkdale Carol - Ring out O bells!

Copyright S.A.J.Bradley & Trustees of St Gregory's Minster Kirkdale 2010. Based on Kimer, I Klokker! by N.F.S. Grundtvig (1856), melody by Henrik Rung (1857)


1.  Ring out, O bells!

O ring out while the world yet lies darkling!

Shimmer, O stars,

like the light in the angels' eyes sparkling!

Peace comes to earth,

peace from God through His Word's birth!

- Glory to God in the highest!


2.  Clear through the dark

of the dale let the tidings go winging,

tidings of joy

which this night holy angels come bringing,

tidings of old:

born is he whom seers foretold!

- Glory to God in the highest!


3.  Christmas is come

as a solstice to hearts that were fearful.

Christmas and Child,

Son of God, where the angels sing cheerful -

all is God's gift,

bidding us our hearts uplift!

- Glory to God in the highest!


4. Children of earth

clap your hands and come dancing and singing!

Raise up your voices

till earth's furthest corners are ringing!

Now is the Child

born of God's great mercy mild!

- Glory to God in the highest!


5.  Neighbour and friend! -

now embrace with each thrice-welcome stranger,

all for the love

of the Child that is born in the manger.

Sing, sing again:

Peace on earth, goodwill to men;

- Glory to God in the highest!


6.  Forth from his crib

let us go as the shepherds of story,

sharing the gift of his grace and the light of his glory.

Sing, sing along

with the Christmas angels' song:

- Glory to God in the highest!

On This Night (Joseph's Lullaby)

Copyright S.A.J.Bradley & Trustees of St Gregory's Minster 2014; Tune, traditional Irish lullaby


1.  Sleep, sweet son, while the angel choir

still echoes from on high.

Sleep, while sparks of starry fire

wheel through the midnight sky.

Sleep sheltered, warm, on mother's breast,

saved from all harm and fright;

while father, kneeling, joyful, blest,

prays blessings on this night.


2.   Shepherds come from the moonlit field

and leave their silvered sheep,

call you King, their homage yield,

and homely quiet keep;

and give their gifts, though poor and few,

and wonder at the sight

where ox and ass kneel down to you

upon this blessed night.


3.  Deep as ocean and deeper yet,

these mysteries unfold:

Ecce, virgo concipiet, as prophets have foretold.

And God, they say, is born as man,

the Word, the Life, the Light,

to right the wrong that man began:

then hallowed be this night.


4.  Grief and sorrow may be your part:

it is not ours to know.

Pain may pierce your mother's heart

if weal should turn to woe.

But ere the songs of angels cease

we hail the heavenly light:

Immanuel, our Prince of Peace,

is born this holy night.


5.  Sleep, sweet son, while the angel choir

still echoes from on high.

Sleep, while sparks of starry fire

wheel through the midnight sky.

Sleep sheltered, warm, on mother's breast,

saved from all harm and fright,

while father, kneeling, joyful, blest,

prays blessings on this night.

Orm Gamalson

Copyright S. A. J. Bradley 2001


Fast the feather lay

Like a sulky jewel in my head

Till I knew it had fallen in a holy place:

Therefore I raised these grey stones up again

- Herbert Read, Kirkdale


Or rather, did some distant English priest,

beardless and pallid,

shadowed by his cowl,

resenting your ruddy skin and your wild pale hair,

make you feel foreign in old Gamal's farm -

though begotten in Yorkshire, born as well as he

and bred among these English moors and dales?


And did he, this tonsured priest - turned sour maybe

by Advent fasting

or the living's dearth,

resenting your belly and your well-fleshed haunch -

pin guilt on you for your lands and for your wealth

usurped and plundered by some far-back viking kin -

albeit yours by lawful inheritance?


Did he insinuate that there were ways

to gain a place above

reach of reproach?

And did you at last sell out, Orm Gamalson?

Or rather, thinking in market terms, buy in -

into the stock of the righteous company,

into a share in the English hierarchy?


Only a churl would dare reproach you now.

Your Minster rose - still stands -

beside Hodge Beck.

And proud enough of your fine Norse name you were

to inscribe it there with Gregory's and with Christ's ...

And Edward's, the dubious confessor-king,

And Tosti's, the lawless and shortly-outlawed earl.

My Jesus, let my heart receive

After N. F. S. Grundtvig (|1783-1862), copyright S. A. J. Bradley 2002. Often used as a funeral hymn in Denmark. Its usual tune is by Carl Nielsen.


1.  My Jesus, let my heart receive

so sweet a taste of Thee

that night and day my soul may cleave

to Thee in constancy.


2.  Then shall my days and years of grace

be sweet to me and free

until Thy kiss upon my face

shall call me home to Thee.


3.  And in the grave, which Thou didst keep

till Easter morn's first breath,

O let my heart at evetide sleep

and smile upon her death.


4.  Then lead me, poor lost sinner, home

all in Thy righteousness -

home to Thy new Jerusalem,

to all Thy wondrousness.

Cædmon’s Hymn of Creation

Composed under Abbess Hilda’s patronage in her monastery at Whitby, some time before AD 670


Nu sculon herigean, heofonrices weard,

meotodes meahte, ond his modgeþanc,

weorc wuldorfæder, swa he wundra gehwæs,

ece drihten, or onstealde.

He ærest sceop eorðan bearnum,

heofon to hrofe, halig scyppend.

Þa middangeard, monncynnes weard,

ece drihten, æfter teode,

firum foldan, frea ælmightig.

An image of Whitby

Mixed media photomanipulation. Source images by Michael D. Beckwith (Whitby Abbey photo) and Lara Mukahirn (acrylic texture).Photographer/Artist:Nicolas Raymond (
Text & notes copyright S. A. J. Bradley 2014, 2017

Winter. Days darken and the night lasts long.

Late withered weeds bloom crystalline with frost.

Wind flings ashore the gull’s lamenting call

and fractures the fishpond image of ruined wall

where sightless windows stare on what is lost.

And faint strains stir, of Cædmon’s midnight song,

the cowherd chanting words of priceless cost:

Nu scylun hergan the Shaper-Lord of all . . .

Nine lines remain, the rest beyond recall,

in deepening night and creeping Fimbul-frost.


[Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard: “Now we must praise heaven-kingdom’s keeper” Approximate pronunciation: Noo shoo-lun hair-yann heaven-reech-ez wahrd. The opening of Cædmon’s ‘hymn’ of Creation, in Anglo-Saxon, the beginnings (c. 680) of Christian poetry in the English language.  Fimbul-frost: In the pagan myth of the North, one stage of the onset of Ragnarök (the end of the world) was the life-obliterating Fimbul-winter (the Great Winter)].



Sing with me, neighbour!

A hymn for Easter morning

Words ©  S A J Bradley 2016. Can be sung to a Polish folkmelody.

1.   Sing with me, neighbour;

sing with me, good friend!

Sing, welcome stranger,

seeking journey’s end!

Sing the blackthorn white with flowers,

sing the gentle springtime showers,

sing the fertile earth,

sing the world’s rebirth!


2.   Walk with the Marys -

fear and faith in strife,

tending the dead one

whom they loved in life.

Then return with them rejoicing,

prophecy and praises voicing:

He, despised of men,

slain, yet lives again!


3.   Where is thy sting, Death?

Grave, thy victory?

Hell’s gates are shattered,

faithful souls set free.

Though the night was filled with mourning

promised joy came with the dawning:

hope of heaven restored

in the risen Lord.


4.   Sing, friend and neighbour,

sing all Christian folk!

Lives the Redeemer,

He who bore our yoke.

Sing to heaven: Alleluia!

Hear the echo: Alleluia!

Christ is risen today!

Christ is risen today!