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Historical Documents: New Church Consecration Service



The Feast of Corpus Christi
June 9th 1977, 7.00 p.m.

Consecration of the new St. Peter's Church, Didcot


Kenneth, Lord Bishop of Oxford



The new Church of St. Peter's, Didcot is to be consecrated, that is, set apart for the service of God, and this act is reserved to the Bishop as high priest of his flock.

The consecration of a church is a very ancient ceremony which finds its origins in the dedication of the Tabernacle and Sanctuary in the desert by Moses. It is also recognised by the law of the land and after the Bishop has been round the outside and the inside of the building, his legal officer, The Registrar, reads out the process whereby the land was acquired and the church built. Then, the Bishop signs the Deed of Consecration.

Although early Christians used to meet in one another's houses it soon became necessary to set aside special places where the Eucharist could be celebrated. However necessary buildings are, we need to remind ourselves that it is not the building that makes the Church but the community, the people of God, who come together in fellowship in order to worship God. St. Paul spoke of the Church as the Body of Christ and so it is most appropriate that the consecration of our Church (which takes place within the context of the Eucharist) should be tonight, the Feast of Corpus Christi when we commemorate and give thanks for the institution and gift of the Holy Eucharist. Later in the service we shall come to the altar of God to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

You will observe a certain amount of ritual and symbolism as this building is consecrated for use as a Church and you will only understand this by reference to its historical and biblical origins:

At the beginning of the service, before the Bishop of Oxford even enters the building, he will walk around the outside including the graveyard, because by so doing he takes possession in the name of Christ.

During the service the Bishop of Oxford will move around the inside of the Church and as he does so he will sprinkle the walls with Holy Water and mark the Consecration Crosses with Chrism (Holy oil). Water is used because it is a symbol of God's blessing and the sprinkling represents the dew of God's benediction. Anointing with Holy Oil is a sign of absolute dedication to God; Moses took chrism and anointed the Tabernacle and then sprinkled the Altar and its furnishings to consecrate them (Leviticus 8. 10-12).

The name Christ means 'Anointed'; the altar which stands in the midst of his Church is symbolic of Him, and so with Holy Oil the Bishop of Reading will mark five crosses representing the wounds of Our Lord's Body.

After the anointing of the altars, the Bishop of Reading will light the Paschal or Easter Candle and this represents Christ as the 'Light for the revelation of the Gentiles' shining forth in and through His Church. Then, when the altars are dressed two candles will be placed thereon and lit from the Paschal Candle. This signifies that Christ is the true Light of the world and represents his two natures, the human and the divine.

Now that the Church and altars are consecrated, the Christian community here bring forward their gifts of bread and wine, shew-offerings as proof of our own dedication. Christ takes these offerings and joins them with His on Calvary; and to us as to his apostles in the Upper Room, he says, "Take, eat; this is my Body which is given for you". As he becomes present among us, for us to receive in Holy Communion, so the Church is united in its Head. After Communion, the Bishop of Oxford will place the Host in the Hanging Pyx, and the white light will burn as a continual reminder that Our Lord is always present in the Blessed Sacrament.


The Solemn Consecration of the new Church of St. Peter and Celebration of the Holy Eucharist by the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Oxford.

Concelebrants with the Bishop:
The Bishop of Reading
The Archdeacon of Berkshire
Fr. Hewetson
Fr. Kinnaird

We extend a very warm welcome to ail visitors to our new church. Please join in all the singing and the prayers as well as you can. There are refreshments after the service is over and we hope very much that you will be able to stay and enjoy them.

The Mayor and Mayoress will be welcomed at the door and taken to their seats before the service starts.

At the beginning of the service the church is bare of all ornament or decoration.


The Bishop of Reading's procession (in silence)
Entry of choir
Visiting and deanery clergy
Rural Dean of Wallingford
Archdeacon of Berkshire
Fr. Kinnaird
Bishop Cyril Bulley
Bishop of Reading

Vicar and Churchwardens receive the Bishop of Oxford at West Door.

Vicar: Right Reverend Father in God, we pray you consecrate our church.
Bishop: In the Name of God let us begin.

The Bishop, Chancellor and Registrar proceed round the outside of the church through the graveyard and return to West Door.

Face West Door

The Bishop stands at West Door saying:

Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of Glory shall come in.

Those within say:
Who is the King of Glory?

And the Bishop answers:
It is the Lord strong and mighty, even the Lord mighty in battle: even the Lord of Hosts, he is the King of Glory.

The Bishop enters the church and greets the people:

Peace be to this house from God our heavenly Father.
Peace be to this house from his Son who is our peace.
Peace be to this house from the Holy Spirit the Comforter.


Hymn: (Tune: Old Hundredth)


All people that on earth do dwell,
  Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
Him serve with fear, his praise forth tell,
  Come ye before him, and rejoice.

O enter then his gates with praise,
  Approach with joy his courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless his name always,
  For it is seemly so to do.
The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
  Without our aid he did us make;
We are his folk, he doth us feed,
  And for his sheep he doth us take.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
  His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
  And shall from age to age endure.

Bishop and procession move to the Sanctuary.

After hymn is over, all sit, and architect and builder are presented to the Bishop and questioned.



Father, I present to you the builder and architect of this church.

Bishop (to architect)

Have you and your colleagues designed this church with due reverence for Almighty God and as a place fit for the worship of His Name?


It has always been our intention to design this building where God's people may worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Bishop (to builder)

Are you satisfied that this church has been well built and in accordance with the architect's instructions?


We are satisfied that this church has been well built and that it is worthy to be called the parish church of this parish.

The builder hands the key of the church to the architect. The Bishop receives it from the architect and hands it to the Vicar.  


Christopher, I hand you this key that you may look after this church as a worthy place of worship for the people of this parish which is both my cure and yours.


Dear friends in Christ, we joyfully gather here to consecrate this Church and Altar by celebrating the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are a community, one family in Christ, for we have been born again in one baptism, and gathered around one altar in his name. Let us now celebrate these sacred rites with a renewed awareness of our unity and listen to the Word of God with lively faith, that we may continue to grow in love into that spiritual temple which is the sign of God's presence among men.


The Bishop moves round the church sprinkling the walls and marks the Consecration Crosses with oil, saying:

We sign this building with the sign of the cross that hereafter it shall be devoted to the worship of God which the whole church in heaven and earth for ever offers through the hands of the crucified Saviour.



The Bishop asks the registrar to read the sentence of consecration and signs the document. He then pronounces the form of consecration:

By virtue of our sacred office in the Church of God, we do now consecrate, and for ever set apart from all profane and common uses, this house of God, under the name of Saint Peter, and to the glory of the ever-blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.



All sing the Gloria

Glory be to God on high, and in earth peace, good will towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesu Christ: O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us. For thou only art Holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art the Most High, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

(As for Feast of Corpus Christi)


Lord Jesus Christ, you gave us the Eucharist as the memorial of your suffering and death. May our worship of this sacrament of your Body and Blood help us to experience the salvation you won for us and the peace of the kingdom, where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Epistle: (1 Cor. 11 v.v. 23-26)

This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me." In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me." Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.


This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God


Alleluia, Alleluia! I am the living bread which has come down from heaven, says the Lord.

Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever. Alleluia!


Gradual Hymn; (Tune: Hereford)


O Thou who earnest from above
  The fire celestial to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
  On the mean altar of my heart.

Jesus, confirm my heart's desire
  To work and speak and think for thee;
Still let me guard the holy fire
  And still stir up the gift in me.
There let it for thy glory burn
  With inextinguishable blaze,
And trembling to its source return
  In humble prayer and fervent praise.

Still let me prove thy perfect will,
  My acts of faith and love repeat;
Till death thy endless mercies seal,
  And make the sacrifice complete.

The Bishop:
The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.

The Bishop:
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John.

Glory be to thee, O Lord, (sung)

Bishop: (St. John 6 v.v. 51-58)

Jesus said to the Jews; "I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world." Then the Jews started arguing with one another: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" they said. Jesus replied: "I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him. As I, who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me. This is the bread come down from heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever."

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise be to thee, O Christ, (sung)

The Bishop will preach.



The Bishop of Reading anoints and marks with five crosses the high altar and the altar in St. Frideswides chapel.


We consecrate this altar (in this chapel of St. Frideswide) as a sign that it is set apart for God's service. May the Lord make it holy that it may be a convincing sign of the mystery of Christ and his Church, which is the mystery of Christ's love for men.

The linen, the Hanging Pyx and the Silver Pyx are presented, and the Bishop blesses them.



As the Paschal Candle and the other candles are brought to the Bishop he says:

Let the light of Christ shine throughout the Church that people everywhere may come to the fulness of truth.

The altars and the church are now dressed and decorated. The flowers are brought in, and the school children put up the hanging. During this the Litany is sung.


The Bishop says:

Let us beseech the all-holy and ever-blessed Trinity to send forth mercy and grace upon us and upon all people.


O God the Father, of heaven: have mercy upon us miserable sinners.

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world: have mercy upon us miserable sinners.

O God the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son: have mercy upon us miserable sinners.

O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three Persons and one God: have mercy upon us miserable sinners.

Remember not, Lord, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers; neither take thou vengeance of our sins: spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and be not angry with us for ever.

Spare us, good Lord.

From all evil and mischief; from sin, from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from thy wrath, and from everlasting damnation,

Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness,

Good Lord, deliver us.

By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity and Circumcision; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation,

Good Lord, deliver us.

By thine Agony and bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion; by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Ghost,

Good Lord, deliver us.

We sinners do beseech thee to hear us, O Lord God: and that it may please thee to rule and govern thy holy Church universal in the right way,

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to keep and strengthen in the true worshipping of thee, in righteousness and holiness of life, thy Servant ELIZABETH, our most gracious Queen and Governor;

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to illuminate all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, with true knowledge and understanding of thy Word; and that both by their preaching and living they may set it forth, and shew it accordingly;

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people;

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord;

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give to all thy people increase of grace to hear meekly thy Word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit;

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to defend, and provide for, the fatherless children, and widows, and all that are desolate and oppressed;

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to have mercy upon all men;

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

Son of God: we beseech thee to hear us.

Son of Cod, we beseech thee to hear us.

O Lamb of God: that takest away the sins of the world;

Grant us thy peace.

O Lamb of God: that takest away the sins of the world;

Have mercy upon us.

O Christ, hear us.

O Christ hear us.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

Christ, have mercy upon us.

Christ, have mercy upon us.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord, have mercy upon us


The bread and wine are brought to the altar.


Guitar Hymn:

Bless, O God and Father,
  These gifts of bread and wine,
Which through the priestly words
  Will become our Lord divine.

Bread which satisfies hunger,
  Wine which quenches our thirst,
These are gifts that we offer,
  Gifts that Christ offered first.

Bless, O God and Father,
  These gifts of bread and wine.
Which through the priestly words
  Will become our Lord divine,

Take this bread that we offer,
  Take this wine that we give,
Make of it the Lord Jesus.
  So that by it well live. (Refrain.)

Bread and wine in a moment,
  Flesh and blood will become.
Help us, Father, believe
  That this is truly your Son. (Refrain)



The Lord be with you;
And with thy spirit.

Lift up your hearts;
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God:
It is meet and right so to do.

It is very meet, right and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, holy Father, almighty, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, thine only Son, our Lord;

Because through him thou hast created all things from the beginning, and fashioned us men in thine own image;

Through him thou didst redeem us from the slavery of sin, giving him to be born as man, to die upon the cross, and to rise again for us;

Through him thou hast made us a people for thine own possession, exalting him to thy right hand on high, and sending forth through him thy holy and life-giving Spirit;

Through him therefore, with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name, evermore praising thee, and saying;


Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most high. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

 Hear us, O Father, through Christ thy Son our Lord, through him accept our sacrifice of praise; and grant that these gifts of bread and wine may be unto us his Body and Blood;

Who in the same night that he was betrayed took bread; and, when he had given thanks to thee, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat; this is my Body which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me.

Likewise after supper he took the cup; and when he had given thanks to thee, he gave it to them saying. Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins; Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me.

Wherefore, O Lord, with this bread and this cup we make the memorial of his saving passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his glorious ascension into heaven, and we look for the coming of his kingdom. We pray thee to accept this our duty and service, and grant that we may so eat and drink these holy things in the presence of thy divine majesty, that we may be filled with thy grace and heavenly blessing;

Through the same Christ our Lord, by whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, from the whole company of earth and heaven, throughout all ages, world without end.




The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And with thy spirit.


Bishop :

Let us offer each other the sign of peace.

All turn and greet each other with a clasp of the hand saying "Peace be with you",


O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.



Let us pray.


As our Saviour Christ has commanded and taught us, we are bold to say,


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.


Draw near with faith: receive the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for you, and his Blood, which was shed for you; and feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving.


Please remain kneeling until directed to the altar rail by the sidesmen. The clergy and choir will make their communion first. The choir will sing the anthem "Ave verum corpus" by W. A. Mozart, followed by the following two hymns:

(Tune: Picardy)


Let all mortal flesh keep silence
  And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
  For with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
  Our full homage to demand.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spread its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of Light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.
King of Kings, yet born of Mary,
  As of old on earth he stood,
Lord of Lords, in human vesture -
  In the Body and the Blood -
He will give to all the faithful
  His own self for heavenly food.
At his feet the six-winged seraphs
  Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the Presence,
  As with ceaseless voice they cry,
Alleluia, Alleluia,
  Alleluia! Lord most high.


(Tune: Living Lord)


Lord Jesus Christ
you have come to us,
you are one with us,
      Mary's Son;
Cleansing our souls from all their sin,
pouring your love and goodness in;
Jesus, our love for you we sing,
      Living Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have come to us,
born as one of us,
      Mary's Son.
Led out to die on Calvary,
risen from death to set us free,
Living Lord Jesus, help us see
     You are Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ,
now and every day
teach us how to pray,
      Son of Cod.
You have commanded us to do
this in remembrance, Lord, of you;
into our lives your power breaks through,
      Living Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ,
I would come to you,
live my life for you,
      Son of God.
All your commands I know are true,
your many gifts will make me new,
into my life your power breaks through,
      Living Lord.


The Bishop will take the Blessed Sacrament and place it in the Hanging Pyx.

Lord, we know the joy and power of your blessing in our lives. As we celebrate the dedication of this church, may we give ourselves once more to your service. Amen.

The Lord be with you.

And with thy spirit.

Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Who hath made heaven and earth.



The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.




Go forth in peace.
Thanks be to God.


Hymn: (Tune: Hyfrydol)


Alleluia! sing to Jesus!
    His the sceptre, his the throne;
Alleluia! his the triumph.
    His the victory alone:
Hark! the songs of peaceful Sion
    Thunder like a mighty flood;
Jesus out of every nation
    Hath redeemed us by his Blood.

Alleluia! not as orphans
    Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! he is near us.
    Faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received him.
    When the forty days were o'er,
Shall our hearts forget his promise,
    'I am with you evermore'?
Alleluia! Joy unbounded
    Came to Peter from the grave;
On whose faith the Church is founded.
    Steadfast, loving, strong and brave.
Rouse and strengthen our devotion.
    Lead us up the heavenly way.
Till we join your Alleluia,
    On the Resurrection Day.

Alleluia! Bread of angels.
    Thou on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia! here the sinful
    Flee to thee from day to day:
Intercessor, Friend of sinners.
    Earth's Redeemer, plead for me.
Where the songs of all the sinless
    Sweep across the crystal sea.

How his Master's gaze pierced through him-
    "Peter, have you love for me?"
He who once denied he knew him
    Gave his answer frank and free.
"Lord, how well you know I love you-
    Nevermore my faith shall roam."
"Follow me, then, faithful shepherd,
    Feed my sheep and lead them home."

Alleluia! King eternal.
    Thee the Lord of Lords we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary,
    Earth thy footstool, heaven thy throne;
Thou within the veil hast entered,
    Robed in flesh, our great High Priest;
Thou on earth both Priest and Victim
    In the Eucharistic feast.

*Verses 2 and 3 were written by Sister Cyrilla C.S.M.V. by special request for this occasion.

During this hymn a collection will be taken. This will be divided between St. James Hospital in Lesotho (U.S.P.G.) and our church building fund. You are asked to give generously.

All who have come to the service are asked to sign the church's Register of Services during the refreshments.


St Peter's Church, Newlands Avenue, Didcot, Oxfordshire. OX11 8PY
Tel:01235 812114

© 2013 Keith Mintern