News from The Kings of Wessex Academy

Ascension Day at Kings with a star twist

15th May, 2018 by Jude Owens

Last Thursday (10/5), the people of Cheddar might have imagined the angels were singing, as the words of “Hail the Day that sees him rise” floated around the village. The hymn was part of The Kings of Wessex Academy’s Ascension Day service held forty days after Easter at St Andrew's Church to mark Jesus' ascension to heaven following his resurrection.

Ascension Day is one of the earliest Christian festivals and is a cherished Kings' tradition brought to Cheddar in 1883 by Rev James Coleman of Oriel College Oxford that is thought to be based on the tradition at Magdalen College where scholars ascend the tower on May Day. Years 9 and 13 students were in church for this moving service organised by Christian Leader Elizabeth Alden and Reverend Stuart Burns led the address. After Jesus rose again, he said goodbye to his disciples in the same way that Year 13 students will soon have completed their time at Kings and will say their farewells as they go on to their next life steps – whether to higher education or other challenges.

This was a star-studded service. ITV’s “Britain’s Got Talent” came to Cheddar when half of the Rat Packers duo Marvin Muoneke – best known as his stage name, Marvin the Jazzman - made a surprise visit to sing “You’ll never walk alone” to the congregation who sat in tingling silence. Taken from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel” with the timeless lyrics “Don’t be afraid of the dark” and “With hope in your heart” was a moving addition to this special service. Marvin prayed for the students for their next chapter and told of his own baptism 12 years ago and reminded the students that God is with them.

Year 13 student trio James Leader, Elliot Veal and Jack Wagstaff then enacted the story of Jesus’s ascension to heaven with Reverend John Angle playing the role of Jesus and told on from the Mount of Olives that he would always be with them. Mrs Alden celebrated the power of prayer and remembered the up and down emotions of the disciples (“like teenagers today!”) – their excitement of this great saviour, then deep sadness at the crucifixion and Jesus’ death and burial and their sense of hope when he rose again.

Executive Headteacher Gavin Ball led the Lord’s Prayer and Reverend Burns and Reverend Angle walked through the church to bless all the students that they might feel God’s presence and how the students meant so much to him.

To end the service, the choir gave a beautiful rendition of “Siyahamba,” a South African hymn that means "We Are Marching" in the Zulu language; which was all the lovelier as Marvin sang alongside them.

As the intrepid Year 13 students climbed the twisty, narrow church tower to mirror symbolically Jesus’s ascent to Heaven, the Year 9 students enjoyed a sticky bun in the vicarage garden. Perhaps not that much of a treat today, but in Victorian times it would have been a real treat to the hungry children. Down below in the vicarage garden, the musicians and singers could be heard playing “Hail the Day that sees him rise,” as a trumpet call to us all to journey on in life.