A Service for Trinity Sunday - 7th June 2020

A Service for Trinity Sunday 2020



Before beginning to read this short service, you may wish to find a space for prayer in front of a cross, a candle, or a special place.  


May the light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.


We begin this morning with a reflection upon our frailties before the perfection of God’s presence:


Holy, holy, holy.

When our eyes have seen the Lord of hosts,

we echo the words of Isaiah,

‘Woe is me! I am doomed.’

We long for the fire of God’s cleansing to touch

our unclean lips,

for our iniquity to be removed and our sins wiped out.

So we meet Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with confession on our lips.


Father, you come to meet us when we return to you:

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.


Jesus, you died on the cross for our sins:

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.


Spirit, you give us life and peace:

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.


The Collect


Silence is kept.


Holy God,

faithful and unchanging:

enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,

and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,

that we may truly worship you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.



The First Hymn

Holy Holy Holy:- please access Simon’s accompaniment here: 




Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!

Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;

Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!

God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!


Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee,

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;

Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,

Which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.


Holy, Holy, Holy! though the darkness hide Thee,

Though the eye of sinful man, thy glory may not see:

Only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee,

Perfect in power in love, and purity.


Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!

All thy works shall praise thy name in earth, and sky, and sea;

Holy, Holy, Holy! merciful and mighty,

God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!





The First Reading:

Isaiah 40: 12-17, 27-end



The Second Reading:

2 Corinthians 13: 11-end




The Second Hymn


Father of Heaven: https://youtu.be/TULkTownKuo



1 Father of heaven whose love profound

a ransom for our souls hath found,

before Thy throne we sinners bend;

to us Thy pardoning love extend.


2 Almighty Son, Incarnate Word,

our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, Lord,

before Thy throne we sinners bend;

to us Thy saving grace extend.


3 Eternal Spirit, by whose breath

the soul is raised from sin and death,

before Thy throne we sinners bend;

to us Thy quickening pow'r extend.


4 Thrice Holy! Father, Spirit, Son,

mysterious Godhead, Three in One,

before Thy throne we sinners bend;

grace, pardon, life, to us extend


In preparation for reading the Gospel let us say:


Alleluia, alleluia.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

one God, who was, and who is, and who is to come,

the Almighty.



The Gospel:

Matthew 28: 16-20






An otherworldliness to the readings today catches us, as it should on Trinity Sunday, with the thought that there is more that we must consider of the majesty and glory of God than what we only too often do. Too easily we narrow and confine what we see and know, of our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier; Father, Son and Holy Spirit - The Trinity.


So much of what we say and do in worship is Trinitarian in its basis and heart.  The Kyries - the “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy” - with which our service frequently begins (as it has today); the Sanctus - the “Holy, Holy, Holy” sung at the communion; the Creed, which we recite each Sunday, when we are in Church together; and the Gloria, which, again, is sung in each of our churches, every Sunday except in Lent and Advent. 


We are enhancing our prayers and worship all of the time through the liturgical form that we give to our own phrases and thoughts, as the Eucharistic service proceeds.  We centre our minds on concepts of God that we hold true and dear rather than necessarily fully understand; contemplate and live out, rather than attempt to describe and analyse.  The Christian Church has done this for centuries, basing these thoughts on the Scriptures from the Patriarchs and Prophets through to the final book of the New Testament, the Revelation to St John the Divine.  We have thoughts of a prophet before us this morning:


“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains on scales and the hills in a balance?”  (Isaiah 40: 12)


How many of us wish that we had written that?  But it was Isaiah.  He got there first!  And he draws from us a response, as the words flowed from him like a mountain stream in spate.  It manages to join awe and wonder with vitality and immediacy; because the very things that are around us declare the glory of God - if we will but have the eyes to see them.  


The first time that I preached in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, at which I was later to become dean, was on Trinity Sunday in 1998 at an ordination of deacons.  I was terrified, I can tell you, even though I had, at that stage of my ministry been ordained for nearly twenty years.  I was glancing back at that sermon and I rather surprised myself in having made one or two good points.  I spoke to the candidates for ordination on the difference between the defining moments of our lives and the formative moments, and how these related to becoming a deacon, and then in time, being ordained priest.


How I would relate this to today brings us back to the Isaiah passage before us and asking how, through his descriptions and rhetorical questions, he is leading our thoughts on what is greatest in our experience of life - and declaring the glory of God - to help define and form who we are.  This passage has a key thought embedded in the middle of it.  It opens with the glorious and poetic words of majestic and awesome contemplations of God.  But, as Isaiah leads us further and further into the realms of our inconsequence before the greatness of our creator, he then slips in the rhetorical question, “Why do you say […] my way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?”  (verse 27)  Let us just pause at that question a moment.  What is he saying?  What is he attempting to tease out of his own mind?


The prophet is turning his hearers thoughts to how we relate to a transcendent God, and I would add, how that relationship is formative for us.   Now clearly, as Christians we spend some serious consideration of this point at various moments in the Christian Year and these thoughts declare and define the way that we pray.  


Hence, we learn of the intercession of Jesus; we read of Christ as the way; the incarnate Son of God who has broken down the barriers that separate sinful humanity from the purity and holiness of God. The core elements of the Christian faith are around forgiveness and redemption; acceptance and new life.  The wonder of Isaiah’s vision is that time and again he was framing the way that Christ (several hundred years later) was going to break down the walls, and redefine and reform humanity’s search for God; and help us to understand that the kingdom of God is within us; the presence of God is Christ’s abiding gift of himself in us always. 


Essentially, this will always bring about transformation: new life means new life.  Isaiah like St Paul much later recognised that to reach that point of being picked up and held we must first know how powerless we are; how weary and faint and utterly drained of strength.  Trinity Sunday, like many another day of the Christian Year, is quite capable of bringing this to the fore.  


Some people find the route to understanding this through dwelling on the capacity of God to hold the whole world in the palm of his hand; for others, it is through striving and failure; for others again, it is along the difficult path of falling time and again into the same sin through the same temptation; for others, it is in discovering that they are loved, deeply loved by someone, when they felt themselves to be unloved and unlovable.   


These things bring us humility of spirit; they are formative; they help us define who we are in relation to Christ, who is calling us and commanding us to take up our cross and follow.  As he parted from his disciples Jesus said to them: “Don’t forget, just remember, I AM WITH YOU.  Now go and make disciples; spread the Good News.” A slight paraphrase, but the sense is there. 


So it is that Trinity Sunday is as much about our outlook on humanity as it is about our apprehension of the triune God, in the same way as our response to the health crisis of these days is defining our capacity to engage with others, as much as our willingness to open our hearts and plough on regardless, enthusiastically embracing social, religious or racial difference, for the greater good of all, and as an expression of our understanding of what the love of God asks of us, and blesses us with, each day that we live.



John Mann




Third Hymn


How shall I sing that Majesty?https://youtu.be/QBZLzFlRH5o



1 How shall I sing that majesty

which angels do admire?

Let dust in dust and silence lie;

sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.

Thousands of thousands stand around

thy throne, O God most high;

ten thousand times ten thousand sound

thy praise; but who am I?


2 Thy brightness unto them appears,

whilst I thy footsteps trace;

a sound of God comes to my ears,

but they behold thy face.

They sing, because thou art their Sun;

Lord, send a beam on me;

for where heaven is but once begun

there alleluias be.


3 How great a being, Lord, is thine,

which doth all beings keep!

Thy knowledge is the only line

to sound so vast a deep.

Thou art a sea without a shore,

a sun without a sphere;

thy time is now and evermore,

thy place is everywhere




(using words from the gradual hymn we sung earlier)


We come boldly to the throne of grace,

praying to the almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

for mercy and grace.

We plead before your throne in heaven.


Father of heaven, whose love profound

a ransom for our souls has found:

We pray for the world, created by your love,

for its nations and governments.

Extend to them your peace, pardoning love, mercy and grace.

We plead before your throne in heaven.


Almighty Son, incarnate Word,

our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, Lord:

We pray for the Church, created for your glory,

for its ministry to reflect those works of yours.

Extend to us your salvation, growth, mercy and grace.

We plead before your throne in heaven.


Eternal Spirit, by whose breath

the soul is raised from sin and death:

We pray for families and individuals, created in your image,

for the lonely, the bereaved, the sick and the dying.

Breathe on them the breath of life

and bring them to your mercy and grace.

We plead before your throne in heaven.


Thrice holy! Father, Spirit, Son,

Mysterious Godhead, Three in One:

We pray for ourselves,

for your Church, for all whom we remember before you.

Bring us all to bow before your throne in heaven,

to receive life and pardon, mercy and grace for all eternity,

as we worship you, saying,

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest. Amen.



The Lord’s Prayer


A few moments of silence before we pray:


Peace to us all from God our heavenly Father.

Peace to us from his Son Jesus Christ who is our peace.

Peace to us from the Holy Spirit, the life-giver.

The peace of the triune God be always with us.



Almighty and eternal God,

you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

and live and reign in the perfect unity of love:

hold us firm in this faith,

that we may know you in all your ways

and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory,

who are three Persons yet one God,

now and for ever.



After a moment of silence we read:


The Acclamations


You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honour and power.

For you have created all things,

and by your will they have their being.

You are worthy, O Lamb, for you were slain,

and by your blood you ransomed us for God.

From every tribe and language and nation,

you have made us to be a kingdom and priests

serving our God.

To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be blessing and honour and glory and might

for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 4.11;5.9b,10,11





The Lord bless us and keep us:


The Lord make his face to shine upon us,

and be gracious to us:


The Lord lift up his countenance upon you

and give you peace:


Numbers 6.24-26


The Lord God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

the holy and undivided Trinity,

guard us, save us,

and bring us to that heavenly city,

where he lives and reigns for ever and ever.



Fugue in E Flat “St Anne” - J.S.Bach: https://youtu.be/io_P0F2rGCw