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COMFORT FROM TIMES WRITER PATRICK KIDD’S WARTIME PRAYER BOOK CONTINUES THROUGH THE COVID CRISIS image

COMFORT FROM TIMES WRITER PATRICK KIDD’S WARTIME PRAYER BOOK CONTINUES THROUGH THE COVID CRISIS

22nd July 2020

A copy of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), originally a Christmas gift during the First
World War, is among Patrick Kidd’s most treasured possessions the editor of the Times
Diary column has revealed.

‘My slightly battered copy, which I purchased in a second-hand bookshop in Blackheath,
provides solace and encouragement through the inscription written in the front by a former
vicar to one of his flock,’ reports Patrick.

‘The words – Tilty Church. Mary Bush from the Vicar. Christmas 1916 – comprise a
poignant yet reassuring timestamp, reminding us that humanity has faced grim times before
and come through. Did this BCP, and the messages it contains, give the same comfort to
Mary at the height of the Great War as it does to me in our current Covid crisis? I hope so.
‘The light shineth in darkness, as St John says, and while that light has felt well shaded at
times this year, it has not been extinguished.’

The parish in which his Prayer Book was dedicated is also of modern relevance, explains
Patrick.

‘Tilty Abbey in Essex was ransacked by King John's soldiers during mass on Christmas Day
1215, just a year after the end of a six-year lockdown of English churches by papal interdict.
That was the last time, until our current pandemic, that churches had been closed.

‘Yet within five years a new nave was built at Tilty and, with later additions, exists in the body
of the current Tilty Church. And so, as Paul and John teach, we walk on in newness of life,
always reassured that the light shines in darkness, no matter how gloomy life appears.’

The BCP, alongside Shakespeare and the King James Bible, is an influential part of our
literary inheritance according to Patrick who says that ‘it provides salt for the tongue and light
for the soul.’

Patrick, a former parliamentary sketchwriter at The Times whose anthology of his columns,
entitled The Weak Are A Long Time In Politics, was published last year, reports that his
second-hand Prayer Book sometimes accompanies him when he worships at the south-east
London church of All Saints', Blackheath. Offering traditional Anglo-Catholic worship using
the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Holy
Communion, the church has a long-standing choral tradition and an emphasis on liturgy.Pictured is Patrick Kidd, editor of the Times Diary column

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