1066 And All What?

Death of Saint Harold

This is an exciting moment for liturgists everywhere. It would appear that the Church of England has published a new prayer, this time commemorating the Battle of Hastings.

Following some discussion last night on social media, I’m pleased to be able to provide this study guide to the prayer for those thinking of using it, in the form of 12 questions. (The questions may be useful for discussion groups).

But first, the prayer itself.

God of justice and mercy,
whose Son came among us as the Prince of Peace:
look with grace on all who look back on the Battle of Hastings
as a defining moment in our history.
Guide our island nation, poised between Europe and Scandinavia,
and from the remembrance of defeat bring solidarity
with oppressed, subjugated and humiliated peoples today.
By your Spirit lead us to make the past our friend,
and to find our future in you,
that we may become a people of memory and hope;
through our crucified and risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

1 – The prayer begins conventionally as an address to the God of justice and mercy. Looking back at the Battle of Hastings, which side represented the forces of justice? Which side was God on?

2 – In telling God to look with grace on all who look back on the Battle of Hastings does the Church of England suggest that those who do not look back on the Battle of Hastings will not experience that favour?

3 – What will be the measurable consequences of the favour of God being bestowed upon Battle of Hastings gazers?

4 – What nation is being invoked in the term “island nation”? (Groups may wish to make reference to #indyref, #brexit and #conquest in answering this question).

5 – Using a map and the description “poised between Europe and Scandinavia”, can you pinpoint

a) Europe?
b) Scandinavia?
c) This Island Nation?

6 – Given the phrase the “remembrance of defeat”, in whose voice is this prayer offered?

7 – Similarly, who is the “we” in the phrase “that we may become a people of memory and hope”?

8 – In what ways are the Saxon people of England today not a people of memory and hope? Give examples to demonstrate your understanding of this question.

9 – How would you lead a youth group towards understanding the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ through the death of King Harold? (Consider drama, storytelling and needlecraft based approaches)

10 – How can the oppressed, subjugated and humiliated members of the Church of England, acting in solidarity with all people of struggle, reach out to build a better world?

11 – Would the addition of Saint Harold the Good to the Calendar of the Church of England be a step forward for justice?

12 – In what circumstances will you use this prayer?