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Friends Bulletin Number 2 January 2009


Soon Han, Patrica Routledge & Bishop Michael
(photo: sns/rosenthal)

Bishop Michael writes......

Jesus said, 'The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.' That is how all God's works begin - small and hidden. He plants the seed of his love together with a deep longing for him within the hearts of people. And that is how the ministry and mission of SPA has begun. For the past six months, each and every Friday lunchtime between 1.00pm and 1.30pm, a small group of ten or fifteen people have been gathering in the Church of the Annunciation, Marble Arch for half an hour of worship, bible reading and silent, corporate contemplative prayer.

Then on Thursday, January 15th at 7.00pm with the strong encouragement of the Priest in charge (Father Alan Moses) and the Wardens and people of the church of the Annunciation SPA - scripture, prayer & action - was formally launched. It was a very special evening in so many ways. Nearly sixty people attended; worship, a biblical reflection, music, prayer, stillness and silence clearly witnessed to the activity of the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ in our midst. The music and prayer songs, played and sung by Soon Han Choi, from the outset of the SPA ministry, have had a special texture which gives to the worship and prayer of SPA a particular and distinctive style, without slavishly copying Taize or other musical expressions of what are sometimes rather loosely termed charismatic occasions. Most conspicuous perhaps was the stillness and the silence of the corporate prayer which seem to release the activity of the Holy Spirit.

After the prayer time in the church, many people came downstairs to the crypt of the Annunciation for refreshments with the opportunity to meet and to talk with some informal sharing. It was such an encouraging evening in every way as we launched out into the unknown and unchartered waters of this particular kind of ministry - thanks be to God.

Music and the Renewal of Church Music

All religions use music in worship and since the very earliest days of the Christian Church, there has never been a time of spiritual renewal which has not been accompanied by and expressed through music. Shakespeare claimed that music was and is 'the food of love' and whatever worship is, or however we define it, surely it is all part and parcel of love - the worship of the One who is Himself Love and from whom all love in whatever form is derived.
Music releases us and opens us to something which is beyond words and formulae. It can, as the saying goes, 'take us out of ourselves.' In a word it opens us to the transcendent. It is not incidental that music is used in our day as therapy in hospitals and of course we read in the Old Testament of how King Saul, in his madness, was helped and healed by the young David making music in his presence. From the earliest days of the Gregorian Reforms, through the music of the Reformation period; the evangelical and catholic revivals of the nineteenth century; the distinctive music of Taize and the music of the contemporary charismatic revival - these are just a few of the many instances where music and singing in the Spirit have lifted the hearts as well as the voices of worshippers in the worship of the church.

Soon Han Choi has been given a very distinctive gift for music making and for making music through his spiritual and prayer songs. They do not seek to imitate any of the contemporary musical expressions of renewal in worship.
St. Paul speaks of three different kinds of music in worship: 'hymns and psalms and spiritual songs.' We tend to stand to sing hymns, sometimes rather boisterously! We chant psalms with their refrains and antiphons. But 'spiritual songs' are quite different. It is best to sit when singing spiritual songs - singing from the heart quietly and prayerfully. Soon's music as well as his particular singing together with the classical guitar, strikes just the right note in every sense for spiritual songs during times of otherwise silent worship and corporate contemplative prayer. Soon's music is ministry with its own distinctive charism. The mission of SPA is particularly grateful to God for this gift - the gift of Soon both in his person and in his music.


'Jesus said, "From now on I no longer call you servants; I call you my friends."' (St. John 15:15)

'Prayer is primarily relationship. Its growth reflects the way we make friends with any person. Getting acquainted is a little awkward in the beginning. Acquaintanceship gradually moves into friendliness and familiarity. Friendliness evolves into friendship. The latter always involves a mutual commitment. Commitment may unfold into various degrees of union, like spiritual friendship or marriage….People, at this stage, begin to share their feelings with each other. They call each other up when they are upset or if they are going somewhere. They send post cards when they are travelling. As the relationship draws closer, one may even call the other person at work to say, "It's just me. I wanted you to know that I am thinking of you."

('The Better Part' by Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O.)

Bishop Michael Marshall

A CD of Soon's 'Prayer Songs' entitled 'My People Need My Love' is available on sale at The Church of the Annunciation or directly from the Secretary of SPA, Roy Hyslop: click on "Contact Us" or "Praise" to hear a Prayer Song from Soon.

If you want to read previous bulletins click the appropriate link.
Bulletin No. 1, December 2008
Bulletin No. 3, December 2008
The Church of the Annunciation
Bryanston Street
Marble Arch

May I
Know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly,
Day by day.

Saint Richard of Chichester
The Church of the Annunciation

All Saints Margaret Street

The Oxford Street Oasis of Churches

The work of SPA is with the encouragement of the parish priest, the church wardens and PCC of the Annunciation.