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Master's Day 14th July 2010

It was a lovely July day and events were not disturbed by the evacuation of a nearby building as a result of a fire practice. The Clerk and Beadle arrived early and the principals arrived promptly at the designated time to have their photos taken by the official photographer, Michael O'Sullivan. The Stewards for the day, Liverymen Ray Scott and Norman Gooding, handed out the Orders of Service and a map showing directions to lunch.

The congregation was seated by 11.20 am and the service started at 11.30 am with the ringing of a bell followed by the Choir singing the Introit He watching over Israel, slumbers not, nor sleeps. When the Choir had finished, the Chaplain, the Reverend Dr Alan McCormack, led the Livery procession of the Court followed by the officers of the Company. When all were in position, the new Master, Howard Mundy; Deputy and Immediate Past Master, Peter Harrow; Upper Warden, Michael Wren; and Renter Warden, the Reverend John Hayton; were installed after which the members of the Court came forward to shake hands with and congratulate the new Master. The Wardens, Deputy Master and Past Master then withdrew to their seats, the Chaplain blessed the new Master, and then all joined the congregation.

The service then continued with the Opening Hymn Stand Up! - stand up for Jesus to be followed by the versicles and responses. The Choir then sang the psalm Deus noster refugiium (God is our hope and strength). The Lesson, which was read by the Master, was taken from the Book of Genesis and told the story of Noah making his covenant with God and the 'bow' or rainbow which was a token of that covenant.

This was followed by John Bunyan's rousing hymn Who would true Valour see. This was followed by the Intercessions led by the Chaplain and the Lord's Prayer. The Choir then sang Charles Wesley's anthem Jesu lover of my soul to the tune Aberystwyth. The Rector then read the Bidding which was followed by his sermon.

He began by pointing out that there has been meticulous attention to detail regarding the ceremony but that this year there was a very rare thing - an innovation. For the first time, two war bows were blessed, chrismated and rested upon the altar.

He questioned if this is a contentious thing to do, combined with the singing of Onward Christian Soldiers with all its military associations. He reminded us that God is sovereign, free, in control and that no part of creation can be rejected or is free from the love of God. None of us deserves God's grace, but we all receive it. He quipped that we don't sacrilise war bows for fun.

He reminded us of the the Psalm which had been sung by the choir (Psalm 46) in which the psalmist wrote - he breaketh the bow, and knappeth the spear in sunder. He reflected that we long for the day when there is peace and no more need for war.

The other reference to the bow was in the lesson read by the new Master from the story of Noah's Ark - And the bow shall be in the cloud - being a reference to a rainbow which is a symbol of God's covenant with his people. He explained that in modern language, a covenant is a bargain and that God covenants that there shall be no more floods to wipe his people off the face of the earth.

He suggested that the oath which had just been taken by the new Master is similarly a covenant in that there is talk of execution, fairness and being just, hence the appropriateness of the reading. In the case of God's covenant, he will not only keep his side of the bargain but will do much more: when his people fail him, he will not fail them.

He summed up with the message that the new Master will help us to operate as a livery company which stands for friendship, sodality, generosity, community and affection. It's not about getting one's own way. The bow can been seen as a symbol of how we should work with our new Master. God who can sacrilise the bow can also destroy it.

He concluded with "God bless the Master, Court and Free Members of the Company. Amen".

During the rousing offertory hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers, the collection was taken on behalf of the Company's Charitable Trust and of St Botolph without Bishopsgate. During the last verse, the Master made his way to the communion rail where the Chaplain presented him with the war bow. The Choir sang the Aaronic Blessing to music by John Rutter and then all stood for the National Anthem. The Master and Officers of the Company retired to Jeremiah Clarke's Tru mpet Tune in D.

After the service photographs were taken of the Officers of the Company at the door of the Church. The Beadle, wearing his bi-corn hat and carrying the company mace, then led a procession through the City, followed by the Master and his lady, the Wardens and their ladies, the Marshal and other members of the congregation, proceeding by Bishopsgate, Threadneedle Street, Walbrook and Dowgate Hill to Innholders' Hall..

At the Hall, the Master, Wardens and their Ladies formed a receiving line to greet their guests. After the reception in the ante room, liverymen and their guests were called forward by table into the Hall for a buffet lunch. As to be expected, the food was magnificent. The main course of Scottish Salmon, Leek Pie or Sauté of Chicken with Borlotti Beans and Pancetta Ham was followed by French Apple Tart or Dark Chocolate Truffle Torte, all washed down with excellent wines.

At the close of the meal, the Master, Howard Mundy, made a short speech and the Immediate Past Master, Peter Harrow, ensured that the Master's Lady's brooch was safely handed over to the new Master's Lady, Miss Christine Hippisley.

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