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When Charlie met Cranmer

Recently Charlie Mutton, a young member of St Aldhelm’s church, Poole won the Salisbury South heat of the Cranmer Awards held in Sherborne Abbey. With other regional winners he’ll be contesting the final at Hampton Court in February.

Charlie’s written an article about his experience which we want to share.

“Soon you’ll be confidently reciting passages from a book written hundreds of years ago.”

If I had heard this just a few months ago when Father Philip Martin suggested I try participating in the Prayer Book Society’s Cranmer Awards, I would’ve looked at you like you were crazy!

Yet across the last few weeks (thanks in no small part to the guidance of Father Pip) and long sessions of deep consideration and prayer, I found a striking beauty in the Book of Common Prayer begging to get out.

We considered a number of passages, but settled on Psalm 139. It slowly revealed how it teemed with unique nuances and an eloquently subversive, yet blunt and honest illustrations of the human condition and relationship with God.

Honestly, conveying this Psalm’s wide range of emotions became an obsession and the verses seemed to come to life.

Furthermore, I realised the beauty of the Chapel in Sherborne Abbey I would be reciting it in. In a place like that, with such brilliant coaching, encouragement and intimacy with the text I believe I became a vessel for the verses, rather than merely giving myself to the recital, verses oozed their own potent and personal vibrancy to (hopefully) everyone present.

My mother Kay and my friends Caleb and Luca come and support me alongside Father Pip. I believe this made a paramount difference to my confidence, as someone who struggles greatly with social anxiety, which was and likely will be a hurdle as I move forward to the national finals at Hampton Court next February.

As I eagerly prepare for the finals, I know this experience has been one of great personal and spiritual growth for me and that all I achieve is to the Glory of (and by the Grace of) God.

I fully encourage anyone from 11 up to 18 years to give this a go when the opportunity presents itself. If you find someone saying, “In a few months you will be…” anytime soon, you might be shocked at what unfolds.

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