Ascension Day at Kings
28th May, 2019 by Jude Owens
On the final Thursday of the last term, there was music in the air in Cheddar, as the words of “Hail the Day that sees him rise” resounded around the village down from the church tower. The hymn was part of The Kings of Wessex Academy’s Ascension Day service held forty days after Easter at St Andrew's Church in Cheddar to mark Jesus' ascension to heaven following his resurrection. Although a week early this year due to the half term break.
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 and 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 Reverends John Angle and Richard Neill led the address on behalf of Reverend Stuart Burns. After Jesus rose again, he said goodbye in the same way that Year 13 students have now completed their time at Kings and have said farewell as they prepare for their next life steps – be it education or other challenges. The Year 9 students watched on as they have now begun their educational journey at Kings.
Rev. Neill began with a puzzle. What links London, university, division and mountain? Before Mrs Alden thanked Year 13 for being “a fantastic year group” and noted that this was their last time together in church and hoped they would remember their experiences together and all they have learned. At some time in the future she also hoped they might visit a church or say a prayer and feel the holy spirit with them throughout life.
Bible readings were from Luke and the Psalms about the Ascension story read by the outgoing Head Boy and Girl Sam Kai-Dyke and Lucy Bishop. Music was provided by the choir who sang the harmonious “Blue Mountain River” as a time for reflection for the students with a panging for summer days and the transience of life. “I want to rest awhile.” Students and staff joined together for the hymn “At the Name of Jesus.” “Lifted up triumphant/far above the world.”
With the theme of gazing up, looking down and moving on, Rev. Neill noted that Jesus adds value, perspective and growth and as the Year 13 students prepared to climb the church tower and indeed thinking of the view from beauty spot, Cheddar Gorge and other high vantage points, he recalled how this would give a better perspective on life, and the students could see how all the local Cheddar Valley villages join together.
Rev. Angle led the prayer and thanked God for the school, church and community and prayed for help with the current complex political situation and prayed that Year 13 might make the right decisions and judgements in life. Rev. Neill led the blessing of joy and piece and the power of the holy spirit upon the students and staff.
At the end of the service the intrepid Year 13 students climbed the twisty narrow tower, symbolically mirroring Jesus’s ascent to Heaven, whilst the Year 9 students enjoyed a cookie (as a modern twist on the sticky bun), which in Victorian times would have been a real treat.
Back to the puzzle. With a musical clue, the students knew the answer could only be UP!