Fore Street Topsham, Exeter

Minister : Reverend Paul Collings BTh (Hons) : email : : Telephone : 01392 206229 : Mobile : 07941 880768

About Us

St Nicholas Methodist Church has existed on the present site for over 150 years since it opened in 1867.

We are a friendly community of believers where all are welcomed. We help each other to worship God, and strive to live more like Christ in service beyond the walls of our church building.

Part of the
Exeter Coast and Country Circuit of the Methodist Church.

Corona Virus means that whilst we are unable to meet we are never-the-less united in prayer and pastoral care for each other.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Desert Island Hymn

Today, marks the birthdays of two Methodist, John Wesley and….. me! Both born on the 17th June 243 years apart. However, in actual fact Wesley has 2 birthdays the 17th and the 28th June; the first marked in the Julian Calendar and the latter by the Gregorian system that came into effect in 1752 when September 2, 1752 was followed by September 14, 1752; a drop of 11 days to conform to the Gregorian calendar.

Whilst his brother Charles was a hymn writer par excellence, John was an active translator of other’s hymns into the English language. Yet there is one hymn that found its way into Hymns and Psalms authored by John; “Eternal Son, eternal love.”

It was first published in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1742), as part of a long hymn of nine 8-line verses headed ‘The Lord’s Prayer Paraphrased’. In the 1780 Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists it was divided into three hymns of three stanzas each. The first began ‘Father of all, whose powerful voice’*, and the third ‘Eternal, spotless Lamb of God’*. This second part began ‘Son of thy Sire’s eternal love’, which remained the first line until the Wesleyan Methodist Hymn Book of 1904, which changed it to ‘Eternal Son, eternal Love’

I wonder if Wesley had in mind Philippians 2:9-11 when he wrote this hymn? “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Father of everlasting love,

Take to thyself thy mighty power;

Let all earth’s sons thy mercy prove,

Let all thy saving grace adore.

The triumphs of thy love display;

In every heart reign thou alone;

Till all thy foes confess thy sway,

And glory ends what grace begun.

Spirit of grace, and health, and power,

Fountain of light and love below,

Abroad thy healing influence shower,

O’er all the nations let it flow.

Wisdom, and might, and love are thine;

Prostrate before thy face we fall,

Confess thine attributes divine,

And hail thee sovereign Lord of all.

Thee, sovereign Lord, let all confess

That moves in earth, or air or sky,

Revere thy power, thy goodness bless,

Tremble before thy piercing eye.

Blessings and honour, praise and love,

Co-equal, co-eternal Three,

In earth below, and heaven above,

By all thy works be paid to thee!

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

Continuing the family link in pursuing the choice of Desert Island Hymns, our son Reuben Collings has chosen ‘And are we yet alive!” By Charles Wesley. Since John Wesley’s time, the people called Methodists have gathered to confer, to make decisions about the life of the church and to share in worship together. The annual Methodist Conference has always begun with the singing of ‘And are we yet alive?’ – as the Methodist people reflect on the year just gone and look forward to what might happen next.

Reuben at the age of 19 was a youth representative at the Portsmouth Conference in 2010, a memory that I know he cherishes.

This could well be a hymn that as we hopefully emerge from the pandemic, may well be one that as Methodist should sing. There is in these verses a firm reliance on the power of God, to bring us together once again as well as for each of our hearts to attain full salvation, that is, to be so filled with God’s love that we love both God and neighbour as God has loved us in Jesus Christ.

The early Methodists were not strangers to conflict or fear. They faced opposition from outside and internal dissension and were no doubt anxious at times for their continued existence and that of their mission.

Here is a word of encouragement! Whatever our human limitations, whatever the challenges we face, the Lord is faithful. Just as we are assured of eternal life, so God is also our help in this life. God is with us.

And are we yet alive,

And see each other's face?

Glory and praise to Jesus give,

For His redeeming grace.

Preserved by power divine

To full salvation here,

Again in Jesus' praise we join,

And in His sight appear.

What troubles have we seen,

What conflicts have we passed,

Fightings without, and fears within,

Since we assembled last.

But out of all the Lord

Hath brought us by His love;

And still He doth His help afford,

And hides our life above.

Then let us make our boast

Of His redeeming power,

Which saves us to the uttermost,

Till we can sin no more.

Let us take up the cross,

Till we the crown obtain;

And gladly reckon all things loss,

So we may Jesus gain.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

Today’s Desert Island Hymn comes from the other-side of the fireplace and is Angela Collings’ choice of “My Jesus, My Saviour” by  Australian Darlene Zschech. Darlene is well-known as a singer, songwriter, worship leader and speaker. Over many years, she was involved in the worship and music publications of Hillsong Church, Sydney, the largest Pentecostal "mega-church" in Australia, with many branches around the world.

Out of her own life experiences (which included, as a young teenager, the divorce of her parents and struggling with bulimia), Darlene has not only found ways of expressing her faith in song but also used her position to address issues near to her heart. In 2001, for example, she and her husband Mark helped launched Mercy Ministries Australia, a branch of Mercy Ministries of America, a non-profit organisation that claims to provide free housing and hope to teen girls struggling with pregnancy, drugs, abuse, and eating disorders – though these claims have caused controversy in recent years.

In an article for Today’s Christian Woman (March 2001), Camerin Courtney quotes Darlene Zschech (pronounced “check”) as saying that “Shout to the Lord”, written in 1993, was written during a time of great discouragement.

“At the time, Darlene and her husband, Mark… had two babies, and with a struggling motorcycle-parts business, money was tight. It was during one particularly stressful day that Darlene snuck into the toy room where they kept their piano and put into song the spiritual truths to which she desperately clung: ‘Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name,’ and ‘Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.’

The song was released by Hillsong Music Australia, the praise and worship label of Hillsong Church. The church is the hub of the international Hillsong Conference, of which Darlene and Mark were associate directors. In 1996, “Shout to the Lord” became the title cut of a gold-certified worship album released in the U.S. by Hosanna! Music.

My Jesus, my Saviour,

Lord, there is none like you;

all of my days

I want to praise

the wonders of your mighty love.

My comfort, my shelter,

tower of refuge and strength,

let every breath,

all that I am,

never cease to worship you.

Shout to the Lord all the Earth, let us sing

power and majesty, praise to the King:

mountains bow down and the seas will roar

at the sound of your name.

I sing for joy at the work of your hands,

for ever I’ll love you, for ever I’ll stand;

nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

CCLI Licence 814800

Monday, 14 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

You may have noticed that some versions of the hymns in our series of Desert Island Hymns are different from those that appear in our current Hymnbooks. I have attempted, where possible to quote the version nearest to that penned by the author. Many hymns have passed through a number of iterations, often to hone a more theological alignment with a particular denominations belief system.

Today’s hymn, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, is my Desert Island Hymn choice, with it’s first verse often on my lips.

It is not unique for one of our hymns to be taken from a longer poem. But the 17 verse poem that gave us this hymn by John Greenleaf Whittier a Quaker Poet, is somewhat unusual. In the 1872 April edition of the Atlantic Monthly, his poem “The Brewing of Soma” first appeared. Whittier discovered that Soma was used as a sacred ritual drink in some ancient Indian religions, and used its alleged effects as a metaphor for evoking the sensual in some expressions of Christianity. He was thinking of music, incense, vigils and trances – all very far removed from the stillness and selflessness associated with the Quakerism he himself practised. Here are just two other verses for his poem.

“Drink, mortals, what the gods have sent,

Forget you long annoy.”

So sang the priests, From tent to tent

The Soma’s sacred madness went,

A storm of drunken joy.

But then, lest his readers begin to look down their noses at such folly, Whittier makes an application to the religious extremists of his day. His words have relevance still, for those who would try to manipulate and stir up emotion in the name of worshiping God!

And yet the past comes round again,

And new doth old fulfil;

In sensual transports wild as vain

We brew in many a Christian fane

The heathen Soma still!

The poem ends with six verses that were that were adapted by Garrett Horder in his 1884 Congregational Hymns. In the United Kingdom, the hymn is usually sung to the tune "Repton" by Hubert Parry.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

Forgive our foolish ways!

Reclothe us in our rightful mind,

In purer lives Thy service find,

In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard

Beside the Syrian sea

The gracious calling of the Lord,

Let us, like them, without a word

Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!

O calm of hills above,

Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee

The silence of eternity

Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all

Our words and works that drown

The tender whisper of Thy call,

As noiseless let Thy blessing fall

As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from our souls the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire

Thy coolness and Thy balm;

Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,

O still, small voice of calm.

I wonder whether Greenleaf had 1 John 4:1-3 in mind when writing his poem. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Sunday Worship Link

Online Worship from St Nicholas Methodist Church, Topsham 13/06/21

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

David Batty’s choice of hymn comes from the pen of Richard Gillard and is the contemporary hymn “Brother, Sister, let me serve you.” Charles Pavey - Organist & Choirmaster of Holy Trinity Church, Malvern commentary on this hymn says;

Brother, sister, let me serve you is an expression of the Christian call to community and friendship, marked by selfless service; walking alongside and bearing one another's joys, sorrows and fears.  The first verse to be written – on a scrap of paper – was the third verse, back in 1976.  The composer, Richard Gillard, recounted how he returned to that scrap of paper (which he had left in his guitar case) that winter and the remaining verses came quickly, although not in the same order we sing them today.  He has had little musical training but, from the age of seven began to play the ukulele and other similar instruments, often to accompany his own singing and learning by experiment.  It usually needed an expert to set out his songs and the arrangement published in Holy Trinity’s hymnal, Common Praise, is by Betty Pulkingham.  

The eldest of six children, Richard emigrated to New Zealand with his family when he was three years old.  Living on the northern island, his faith background is a mixture of the Anglican Church on his mother’s side of the family and the Pentecostal Church on his father’s.  Regarding the hymn he says it "was first published in 1978 on a record album by Scripture in Song called "Father Make Us One".  He says he prefers “the down-to-earth groundness of a guitar accompaniment and a simple folk-song treatment.  But I let go of it long ago and have very little to say any more.  And that’s as it should be.”

Although not explicit in The Servant Song, there is a biblical focus which comes from Matthew 20:26b-28: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Brother, sister let me serve you, 

let me be as Christ to you; 

pray that I may have the grace to 

let you be my servant too. 

We are pilgrims on a journey 

and companions on the road; 

we are here to help each other 

walk the mile and bear the load. 

I will hold the Christ-light for you 

in the night-time of your fear; 

I will hold my hand out to you, 

speak the peace you long to hear. 

I will weep when you are weeping; 

when you laugh I'll laugh with you; 

I will share your joy and sorrow

till we've seen this journey through. 

When we sing to God in heaven 

we shall find such harmony, 

born of all we've known together 

of Christ's love and agony. 

Brother, sister let me serve you, 

let me be as Christ to you; 

pray that I may have the grace to 

let you be my servant too.

Reproduced here under CCLI Licence 814800

Friday, 11 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

Today’s hymn choice for our Desert Island Hymn series comes from Carolyn Keep and comes from the pen of Frederick W. Fabre. 

Raised in the Church of England, Frederick W. Faber (b. Calverly, Yorkshire, England, 1814; d. Kensington, London, England, 1863) came from a Huguenot and strict Calvinistic family background. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and ordained in the Church of England in 1839. Influenced by the teaching of John Henry Newman, Faber followed Newman into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845 and served under Newman's supervision in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Because he believed that Roman Catholics should sing hymns like those written by John Newton, Charles Wesley, and William Cowper, Faber wrote 150 hymns himself.7

Calvinism was distinctive among 16th-century reform movements because of particular ideas about God's plan for the salvation of humanity, about the meaning and celebration of the sacraments, and about the danger posed by idolatry.

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” celebrates the wideness of God’s mercy––”like the wideness of the sea.”  It celebrates God’s welcome for the sinner and the “good” person alike.  It reminds us that “the love of God is broader than the measure of our mind”––and therefore encourages us to broaden the measure of our own love so that it might be more like God’s love.  And, finally, it calls us to “rest upon God’s word” so that “our lives (may be) illumined by the presence of our Lord.”

1 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,

like the wideness of the sea.

There’s a kindness in God’s justice,

which is more than liberty.

2 There is welcome for the sinner,

and more graces for the good.

There is mercy with the Saviour,

there is healing in his blood.

3 But we make God’s love too narrow

by false limits of our own,

and we magnify its strictness

with a zeal God will not own.

4 For the love of God is broader

than the measures of the mind,

and the heart of the Eternal

is most wonderfully kind.

5 If our love were but more simple,

we should rest upon God’s word,

and our lives would be illumined

by the presence of our Lord.

Community Groups Regularly Usiing the Church

Regrettably, due to the current restrictions, there are no community activities at the church premises.

Watch this space for news of when activities will restart.