October – ‘Now hell is here’: Poetry as a response to current events

The Reverend Dr Andrew Pratt is well-known for his hymns, but he also paints, takes beautiful photographs and writes poetry. Much of his work is reactive, responding to news items that are often shocking. This poem, written after the terrible events in Israel and Gaza, gives words at a time when we may be finding them hard. It could be used as an introduction to lament or intercessory prayer, or for focusing our own thoughts at a time of international crisis.

Now hell is here, and words are cheap,

a bloodied sheet, a shattered bed…
as women, men and children weep,
while prayer is silent, felt not said.


With seeds of vengeance sown not sought,
while roots in hearts of flesh, not stone,
bring carnage traced with quiet thought
as guilt will fester none will own.


And distantly, in muffled sighs,
of deep regret and dark despair
we wring our hands and harbour lies,
dare not admit the blame we share.


© Andrew Pratt 17/10/2023
We are grateful to Dr Pratt for giving us permission to publish this poem on our website. You can
find more of his work on his blog: https://hymnsandbooksblog.uk

September – Celebrating the season

It is that time of year when the leaves change colour and many churches (even urban ones) hold harvest festivals. John Keats’s great poem revels in the sights, sounds and scents of autumn, and encourages its readers to do the same. He moves us from the voluptuous days of late summer, through the richness of harvest to the melancholy season of rapidly shortening days and coming cold. And he urges us to rejoice in all of it. The poem is filled with a love of life, even as it hints at an awareness of mortality. Barely a year after writing it, he was dead.


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


August – Emily Brontë: No Coward Soul is Mine

Although best remembered for her novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë was a passionate poet. Although much of her work was destroyed some pieces were saved by her sisters and published in a slim volume. This poem tells of faith in an all-powerful, everlasting, and ultimately loving God who cannot be imagined by mere mortals. Our religious language and structures pale into insignificance beside the eternal, infinite reality. So indeed does what we, in this temporal world, understand as death.


No coward soul is mine
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven’s glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear


O God within my breast
Almighty ever-present Deity
Life, that in me hast rest,
As I Undying Life, have power in Thee


Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main


To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.


With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears


Though earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And Thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee


There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.

Vacancies at the Central Readers’ Council

Secretary to the CRC
Andrew Walker, our Secretary, will be retiring in the late autumn. The Board is looking for someone to replace him in this responsible and stimulating post. Salary: £15,000 p.a. for a 17.5 hour week. Expressions of interest, and requests for further information should be sent to crcsec@btinternet.com You can also contact Andrew or Imogen Clout (Chair) Imogen.clout@btinternet.com to arrange an informal chat.

Website Editor and Communications Officer
CRC is looking for a freelance editor to manage the website and create electronic communications with members. We envisage the post taking a day a week. Applicants should be able to edit in WordPress. Expressions of interest and requests for an information pack to crcsec@btinternet.com

The Hiding Place

Moving into film

Transforming Ministry is now experimenting with film reviews, and Andrew Carr has started the process with a review of The Hiding Place, about Corrie Ten Boom. We are keen for everyone to see this review, as it is a first for us, but we anticipate future reviews being available in the Subscribers’ area of the website.

If you would be interested in reviewing a film for Transforming Ministry, please contact editor@transformingministry.co.uk in the first instance.



The Hiding Place (2023 USA film)
Certificate: 12A
Runtime: 153 minutes
Director: Laura Matula
Cast: Nan Gurley, John Schuck, Carrie Tillis

Based upon Corrie Ten Boom’s memoir, this is an emotive film version of a stage play of her moving and powerful book. I was reminded of a quote from movie satire The Player (1992) “No stars, just talent!” which summarises the quality of the three lead performances, especially Carrie Tillis (Betsie Ten Boom).

It’s not an easy watch, its subject matter and theme are sombre, turning as they do to a dark page in human history. The staging and lighting with the narrative switching effectively between the characters’ past and their then-present is played out on a revolving stage. The theme broad – Anti-Semitism, Hatred of the Other, the Holocaust; the focus narrow – what would you personally have done in the same situation?

The sequences in Ravensbrück camp are powerful yet understated, the communion scene in particular is extraordinary. It stays with you… ‘forgiveness must first be a scandal if it is to have any power at all’ which is said and shown by Corrie (Nan Gurley) forgiving a former Nazi captor.

Not a film to passively watch, but to be engaged with and to ask ourselves why we are potentially allowing the circumstances that caused the events back then to happen again today?



Essential information required for your profile. Click okay to complete.