Anglican Church of Canada – Primate’s Message

“FORBEARING ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE”

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate
July 14, 2016

In light of decisions made at General Synod 2016 concerning the solemnizing of same-sex marriage, I pray our Church can and will take to heart Paul’s plea with the Christians living in Ephesus, “I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Going into General Synod, the delegates knew there would be pastoral implications whether the Resolution to amend the Marriage Canon passed or not.  In order to pass it would, according to the Declaration of Principles (General Synod Handbook), require a two-thirds majority in each of the three orders voting: bishops, clergy, and laity.

On Monday, July 11 the result of the vote was that in the orders of bishops and laity there was the required two-thirds majority but not in the order of clergy.  The vote was very close.  The pastoral implication was that LGBTQ2S persons and those who have accompanied them were disappointed and saddened.  Many wept.  The Synod sat in silence.

Because the vote was so very close, on Tuesday morning there was a request that the record of this vote be made public and Synod concurred.  Analysis of the actual vote revealed that one clergy member’s vote was not properly recorded.  The Chancellor then advised the Synod that according to the numbers we, in fact, did have a two-thirds majority vote in the order of clergy, and I announced the resolution had therefore passed in all three orders.  The pastoral implication was that a number of members of Synod were disappointed and saddened.  Many wept.  The Synod sat in silence.

We have been deeply divided over the solemnizing of same-sex marriage for a very long time.  That has not changed.  In the midst of this division, I need to take to heart Paul’s counsel and I encourage our whole Church to do the same.  “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” writes St. Paul.  He reminds us of our fellowship in Christ Jesus, through our baptism, and in the eucharist.  He reminds us that we are “the Body of Christ, members one of another”, and that we, in fact, need each other, and need to find ways to make room for one another.

In keeping with the theme of Synod, “You are my witnesses” the question with which we must now wrestle is this, “For what kind of pastoral and prophetic witness can and will we be known?”

I pray that witness not be marred by fraction and breaking of communion with one another, but rather that “forbearing of one another in love” that “eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”.  More than ever we must make efforts not to turn away from one another but rather to one another, not to ignore but to recognize one another, not to walk apart but together.  We need as a Church to work hard at maintaining our communion in Christ, for in his reconciling love is our hope and our life.

The Synod passed on first reading an amendment to the Marriage Canon to allow for same-sex marriage in our Church.  Because it is a Canon about doctrine, consideration of the matter is required in “two successive sessions of the General Synod”.  So the matter will be before the General Synod in 2019.  In the meantime, it is referred “for consideration to diocesan and provincial Synods”.

I call the Church to seize this opportunity.  I commend the General Synod’s reaffirmation by resolution of the 2004 General Synod Statement on the integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships, and its call for a much wider and deeper engagement with the report, “This Holy Estate”.  I will ask the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to give immediate attention to the matter of translation, at least of the executive summary of the report and frequently asked questions.  I will ask CoGS to consider what other resources might be helpful.  I will be asking the House of Bishops at their fall meeting to consider how we encourage “further consideration” of the matter, and to show strong leadership in their dioceses in hosting events, dialogues, and studies.

In all these conversations I want to encourage much more engagement with people who identify as LGBTQ2S.  We have spent a lot of time talking about them.  I believe we need to take much more time to talk with them and to learn of their lived experience of covenanted love in relationships that are monogamous and life-long.  I know that will require of all of us a good deal of courage and grace.

Finally, I ask that without ceasing, we pray for one another, mindful always of the counsel of Paul.

“I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4: 1-3)

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In the wake of the surprising overturning of the first result of the electronic voting system at the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod Meeting this week, when the recount revealed a different outcome – leading to the passage of a motion to change the Constitution of the Church’s Marriage Canon – there was understandable confusion in the hearts and minds of all present at the Synod.

Naturally, the majority – who were for the motion – were shocked at the first result, which indicated that the motion had been lost by one clergy vote. However, after details had been released on the actual process, it was revealed that the General Secretary’s vote had not been counted in the clergy listing – owing to an error in procedural reporting. This meant that, when the G.S.’s vote had been counted, the 2/3 majority in the clergy division was actually attained. Not only that, there were 2 other clergy and one lay vote(s)  – all for the motion – that also had not been recorded. This meant that the motion to allow for Same-Sex Marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada to go forward to the next and final vote of the general Synod was passed by all 3 Houses of the Synod.

In the following acclamation by those in favour of Equal Marriage, it seems that those who had voted against the motion (who were now, in their turn, dismayed by the new outcome) were not sufficiently dealt with pastorally by the Chair of the Synod. As a consequence, the Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, has now issued this statement that includes his profound apology to those who had hoped for the defeat of the motion.

In the following paragraph, the Primate sums up the situation:

“We have been deeply divided over the solemnizing of same-sex marriage for a very long time.  That has not changed.  In the midst of this division, I need to take to heart Paul’s counsel and I encourage our whole Church to do the same.  “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” writes St. Paul.  He reminds us of our fellowship in Christ Jesus, through our baptism, and in the eucharist.  He reminds us that we are “the Body of Christ, members one of another”, and that we, in fact, need each other, and need to find ways to make room for one another.”

Herein is surely an expression of the Primate’s desire for everyone to take the time to reflect on the situation as it has evolved, giving way to one another in love, in the hope that all can live together in peace – despite their differences.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

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Canadian Bishop(s) to go ahead with S/S Marriage

Statement After General Synod Vote on the Marriage Canon

POSTED JULY 11, 201

STATEMENT BY THE BISHOP OF NIAGARA

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has narrowly voted against a change in the marriage canon that would have enshrined equal marriage within our national canons. This decision is deeply regrettable and inconsistent with the ever more inclusive witness of our Church that has inspired this synod’s theme: “You are my witnesses” (Isaiah 43).

The Report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon, ‘This Holy Estate, provides a sound and compelling mandate to move forward with an understanding of the sacrament of marriage that is inclusive for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. Over the past few months I have heard from an unprecedented number of faithful people from across the Anglican Church of Canada expressing support for this vision which upholds the dignity of every human being. I am also mindful that it has been over a decade, in 2004, that our Church affirmed the “integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships.”

In the words of David Jones, the chancellor of General Synod, our current marriage canon “does not contain either a definition of marriage or a specific prohibition against solemnizing same-sex marriage.” At the same time, it is clear that our Anglican conventions permit a diocesan bishop to exercise episcopal authority by authorizing liturgies to respond to pastoral needs within their dioceses, in the absence of any actions by this General Synod to address these realities.

Accordingly, and in concert with several other bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, it is my intention to immediately exercise this authority to respond to the sacramental needs of the LGBTQ2 community in the Diocese of Niagara. In the absence of any nationally approved liturgy, I am authorizing The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage and The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2 for use in our diocese. These newly created rites of The Episcopal Church in the United States of America may be used for the marriage of any duly qualified couples. Clergy intending to use these rites will, for the time being, be required to notify the Bishop’s Office in advance.

I offer this witness to the transformational power of God’s inclusive love while acknowledging the considerable differences that exist within our beloved Church. My sincere hope is that God’s grace will inspire all Canadian Anglicans to continue to break bread together in the days ahead. I want to say, as a bishop charged with guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church, that I solemnly pledge to do my part to ensure that this is indeed the case.

Please join me in praying for God’s constant presence, guidance, and comfort as we move forward.  Pray for our Church: local, national and universal; as its discernment continues on this matter. And my dear friends pray especially for the global LGBTQ2 community that continues to face unjust and often horrific discrimination, oppression, and violence for openly being the people God created them to be.

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Prophetically, perhaps  (even before the about-turn in the results of the voting on the issue) some Bishops in the Canadian Anglican Church decided – despite the fact that at the time of their announcements the votes had seemingly gone against the Motion to change the Constitution to allow for Equal Marriage  –  to facilitate the Celebration and Blessing of Same-Sex Marriages within their dioceses.

Now that the actual votes cast have been discovered to have been misrepresented by the electronic system (a careful recount has led to the discovery of a majority of votes in all three houses of bishops clergy and laity to have supported the Motion)  the Anglican Church in Canada has been officially declared as supporting a change to the extant marriage regulations, thus – opening up the possibility of the Celebration and Blessing of Same-Sex Marriages in its churches.

The obvious sincerity with which the Bishop of Niagara, and other bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada have stated their case for this radical prospect of inclusion of faithful Same-Sex married relationships within the family of the Church is buttressed by their desire not to incite the possibility of schism, but rather to continue to dialogue with those in the Church who find this new pastoral approach to the complex situation of Same-Sex relationships difficult. Like other substantial changes to the policy of the Church (for instance divorce and re-marriage), this new initiative to bring the policy of the Church in line with the law of the land will gradually be seen to be a positive move towards the pastoral integration of  a formerly marginalized community into the Church

Besides the Bishop of Niagara, these 3 Bishops also declared their intention to go ahead with special pastoral provision for Same-Sex Marriage in their dioceses:

Statement by the Bishop of Toronto – (please view this video)

Statement by the Bishop of Ottawa

Statement by the Bishops of Huron

Now will the positive signal of its intention to change the Constitution to allow for equal Marriage in the Church of Canada, these 4 Diocesan Bishops will be recognised for their prophetic witness – before the final vote count – to the need for change that has now been signalled by the Church majority.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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A.C. of Canada Votes YES to S/S Marriage

Statement on the vote count on Marriage Canon Resolution (A-051-R2)

The following is a written statement by The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The events leading to the passage, at first reading, of a motion to amend the Canon on Marriage so as to provide for the solemnization in the church of same-sex marriages are complex. On July 11, the motion was declared defeated in the order of clergy, where it appeared not to have achieved the necessary two-thirds majority in that order.  The actual numbers recorded electronically were 51 in favour and 26 opposed. The motion did achieve that majority among the bishops and among the laity.

In the last hours of the General Synod, a number of issues emerged that led initially to some confusion, and then, with the support of the company providing electronic voting, to clarify that an error on our part had led to a failure to count one clergy vote.

All of this took place following two procedural motions. The first called for a recorded vote, and the second for that record to be made public before the end of General Synod. When that record was made known, a number of members of Synod noted that the electronic count from the previous day was not consistent with the print record distributed as a PDF to the members of Synod, and brought this to the attention of the head table. The chancellor and I left immediately to consult in another room during a short break and were joined by the person supporting electronic voting, J. P. Copeland of Data-on-the-Spot.

It was at that point that Mr. Copeland, the person supporting the electronic voting, discovered that it was, in fact, my own vote as General Secretary that had been overlooked in the electronic count.  Initially, we thought that it had been miscoded as a lay vote, rather than as a clergy vote.  We have since been provided, by Mr. Copeland, the list from which the electronic voting was coded, a list prepared by my office.  That list described the General Secretary as “clergy, non-voting”. Data-on-the-spot simply coded the information that my office gave them. This error took place in my office, and I take responsibility for it. We were more than well-served by Data-on-the-spot. In fact, without Mr. Copeland’s prompt attention, I am not sure that we would have discovered the nature of the error and had a chance to understand and correct it.

That error was then shared with the assessors, who provide procedural advice to the chancellor. In this case, the advice we sought was about the proper procedure to inform the synod of this error. They gave the immediate and unanimous advice that it was the role of the chancellor to provide this information. We returned to the head table and the chancellor informed synod of the failure to count one vote.

After a period of some consternation, the Primate in his role as president of General Synod verbally reviewed the chancellor’s new information. Based on that information, he declared that the motion had received, in all three orders, the majority required by the constitution and that the motion had been passed.

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This amazing turnaround of the vote-count, that now ensures the passage of the original Motion “to  amend the Canon on Marriage so as to provide for the solemnization in the church of same-sex marriages” has caused consternation at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Because of an initial error made by the office of The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, which indicated that the G.S., though a clergy-person in the general Synod, was a non-voting official. Therefore, in the vote-count, the House of Clergy were short of one vote – that of the G.S. – which rendered the clergy count unable (by just one vote) to make the requisite 2/3 majority for the Motion to pass.

Fortunately, the error was discovered in time for the Primate, President of the general Synod, to declare the motion – by virtue of its affirmation by all 3 Houses of General Synod – to be Passed!

This will no doubt hearten the majority of the Synod Members, whose votes have indicated their approval of the change of the constitution to allow S/S Marriage. There will need to be a second Reading of the Motion before it is put into the legislation.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

STOP PRESS!

The following communique has now been received through ACNS which show that not just 1 but 3 votes were missed from being recorded in the House of Clergy at the ACC General Synod. See this report:

http://goo.gl/9XoBW8

 

 

 

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LGBTI Mission Response

Wednesday, 13 July 2016LGBTI Mission responds to shared conversations

This press release was issued yesterday by LGBTI Mission:

LGBTI Mission calls on Church of England to move forward following completion of Shared Conversations

The LGBTI Mission rejoices that almost all General Synod members were willing and able to engage in conversation and listening about human sexuality. We commend David Porter and his team for their excellent work in bringing this about. It is also clear that very many throughout the Church of England want to see change soon, as a priority for mission.

We call on the House of Bishops to bring forward bold proposals that enable the Church of England to move towards LGBTI equality, of course with proper safeguards for those who cannot, in conscience, accept any such changes.

Same-sex marriage is only one item on the table. There are other important issues, which could be resolved sooner and more easily. Some do not need synodical approval. We urge the bishops to review urgently all the areas listed in our LGBTI Mission launch document.

We also ask bishops to consult fully with their own LGBTI laity and clergy who are directly and personally affected by current discriminatory policies.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Now is the time to move forward and take action. Church leaders and LGBTI church members, of all convictions, need to work together to devise answers to these problems. We now have an opportunity to change the way that LGBTI people are treated in the Church. A good start would be to have a staff member funded to coordinate work in this area and show that the national Church is serious about change.”

Two specific examples of other urgent issues are:

There is a Blackburn Diocesan Synod Motion (see text below) awaiting General Synod debate, which asks the Church to improve its welcome to Transgender people and for the House of Bishops to recommend suitable rites and prayers to mark their transition journeys. Debate on this was recently deferred a second time. We urge the bishops to endorse that motion and to ensure it is debated without further delay.

An issue not requiring synodical action is the current ban on clergy entering same-sex civil marriage, contained in paragraph 27 of the House’s February 2014 Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The widely inconsistent application of this has brought the Church into serious disrepute. It must be reconsidered urgently.

Media reports suggest the bishops may revive the 2013 Pilling Report recommendation (see Recommendations 16 and 17 on page 118) to allow clergy who wish to do so to “mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service” but only as a “pastoral accommodation” without authorizing any formal liturgy. This would be welcome as an interim step towards the long-term goal of enabling same-sex marriages in the Church of England. But the addition of approved liturgical forms would improve clarity and give clergy protection against unwanted disciplinary complaints.

ENDS

The Blackburn Diocesan Synod motion is as follows:

WELCOMING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

…to move on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod:

‘That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 13 July 2016
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Thanks to Simon Sarmiento, of ‘Thinking Anglicans’ and ‘LGBTI Mission’, for this response by the Mission to the outcome of the C. of E. General Synod discussions on the issue of  Human Sexuality at its recent meeting.
Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Now is the time to move forward and take action. Church leaders and LGBTI church members, of all convictions, need to work together to devise answers to these problems. We now have an opportunity to change the way that LGBTI people are treated in the Church. A good start would be to have a staff member funded to coordinate work in this area and show that the national Church is serious about change.” 
From this report, by the newly-constituted Anglican ‘LGBTI Mission’, there would seem to be reason for a guarded optimism that the 48-hour session on this important subject; Human Sexuality – especially as it concerns the Church’s treatment of the LGBTI community in the Church – will have begun the process of ridding the Church of England of its traditional conservative attitude towards the existence of different understandings of sexual orientation that are different from the binary ‘norm’.
It is now time the Church to make good on the recent declarations made at the January Primates’ Meeting that condemned homophobia and the culture of violence against homosexuals that is endemic in certain countries where the Anglican Church is planted.
With the narrow defeat (by one vote) of the Anglican Church of Canada‘s bid to change its embargo against Same-Sex Marriage – together with the United Reform Church in the U.K. passing legislation to allow Same-Sex Marriage on a parish to parish basis; the Church of England will need to bring some resolution to the current stand-off on the issue.
As a footnote, the report contains the news of the Blackburn Diocese’s intention to enact a policy of acceptance of transgender people into the Church, with a request for appropriate pastoral measures for recognition of the change of gender identity. This would seem to be one step further than that envisaged by the C. of e. General Synod, but nevertheless an important move towards full inclusion of everyone into the Body of Christ.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand
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‘Shared Conversations’ – conclusion

Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process
12 July 2016

Over the last 2 days members of General Synod have met in an informal setting in which they have listened and been heard as they have reflected together on scripture and a changing culture in relation to their understanding of human sexuality.

Throughout these conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. The Shared Conversations over the last two years now come to a conclusion with over 1300 members of the church directly involved. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the church conducts whatever further formal discussions may be necessary in the future. It is our prayer that the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements will bear witness to Jesus who calls us to love as he has loved us.

In comments to members of Synod at the end of the Shared Conversations the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“At the heart of it is to come back to the fact that together we seek to serve the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and in whom there is never despair, there is never defeat; there is always hope, there is always overcoming; there is always eventual triumph, holiness, goodness, and grace.

That is for me what I always come back to when it all seems overwhelming.

Thank you so much for your participation. Let us go in confidence. Confident in the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Posted by Peter Owen – ‘Thinking Anglicans’ –  Tuesday, 12 July 2016 at 6:38pm BST
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Succinct and to the point – but indicative of any information regarding the ‘Way Forward’ for the Church of England on its treatment of Same-Sex relationships in the Church? NO is the answer.
The Archbishop of Canterbury might hardly be expected to spell out the trajectory of future action that might be taken – on an issue which confronts every local Anglican Provincial Church where society has already accepted the reality of legally recognized Same-Sex relationships by the provision of a form of ‘EqualMarriage’ celebration.
However, the prospect of an ongoing round of talking-the-talk in ‘further formal discussions’ seems only to prolong the agony for those members of the Church of England who were looking forward to an end to homophobia and discrimination against them by the Church – merely because of their desire to settle down to a monogamous faithful relationship with the person they love and want to be with for the rest of their lives.
While the Church of England is not alone among provinces of the Anglican Communion to delay what might seem to be the inevitable acceptance that gay people are actually part and parcel of the structure of the Church; other, more liberal parts of the Communion have already moved ahead of the C. of E., believing their openness to LGBTQI people to be part of the mission of the Body of Christ  that seeks to demonstrate “the great love of God as revealed in the Son” to the world at large.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand
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‘Some Day I’ll Find You’ by H.A. Williams C.R. (London: Mitchell Beazley, 1982)

Fr Harry Williams was a Cambridge don, tutor to the Prince of Wales, who, aged 50, entered an Anglican religious community. This is his autobiography. It is fair to say that it caused a stir when p…

Source: ‘Some Day I’ll Find You’ by H.A. Williams C.R. (London: Mitchell Beazley, 1982)

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From the Church of England General Synod

Prorogued but not ended

So that Group of Sessions ended.  The formal word is ‘prorogued’ which simply means bringing it to its end. But it felt odd to know that the Synod had ended but we were still meant to be here.

When I was a kid, going to the pictures was a bit of a bargain – unlike today – you got a film to watch before you saw the main feature, the film you had really gone to see, and, of course, you still had the adverts, for the local Indian or Chinese restaurant. They were called ‘B’ movies, they were of variable quality, sometimes rubbish, but it was something to watch or eat your sweets through.  Well, this Synod has taken me back to those days in the Magna Cinema in Wigston where I was brought up and where I went with my sister every Saturday for the children’s film club.

Magna

 

The business of Synod, though interesting and important, felt like the starter to a meal, the film before the main feature. We all knew that the Shared Conversations would be the thing that we would remember most about the July Synod in York in 2016. It could be, by the grace of God, a positive turning point for the Church of England, it could be the ultimate car crash, or, of course, (and perhaps most likely) as indeterminate as most things can be in Synod life until, as with women bishop’s, the rubber finally hits the road.

So, the legislative business ended, a revision committee will look at the Amending Canon on vesture and the burial of those who have committed suicide.  The talent pool will continue to be stocked with promising new people, leaders will be trained for leadership, the Archbishops’ Council will do its work, schools will continue to offer excellent education and the budget has been passed so that we can spend money creatively for mission and ministry.  Life goes on.

In the evening yesterday news came through that the URC Church had made the decision, by a large majority, to allow same-sex marriages to take place in those churches who wish to conduct them. It was a timely reminder that society and the church is moving on around us and we are looking more and more isolated. I’m proud of the Methodists, some of the Baptists, the Church of Scotland and now the URC for having the courage, confidence and vision to take this step.

How do I feel as we embark on these two days?  This will be my third set of Shared Conversations, so in one sense I know a bit of what will happen.  But the regional one and the diocesan one that I took part in were not with people who would have to create some kind of outcome.  Members of the General Synod are here to be part of the governance of the church and to make decisions about its future.  We all know that.  We also know that we will be together as a Synod until 2020. So it is different and I suspect it will feel different.  But I entered those other two conversations positively and trusting in the Protocol and the process and my trust was well placed. So, despite all the undercurrents of negativity that sweep around Synod, I enter these conversations positively and trusting in the God I always trust and who I know loves me, for that God created me, my ultimate father, my ultimate mother.

We are asked not to blog and Tweet during the process but afterwards we can share some reflections.  So, until then I’m being prorogued …. but I promise, I’ll be back!

This verse from the hymn by Jan Struther I’m making my prayer as we begin this journey.

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy:
be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.
Amen.

 

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