NRM at Sanctum 2019

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Each year we gather at the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, Yorks to talk Mission, Sacraments and Creativity. It is often described as “a noisy retreat” and so what better way to spread the word and encourage others to take up the NRM than to lead it there.

Here is a short excerpt…

Extra Hymn – to the tune of “Old McDonald”

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Our Sunday School were learning about Luke 10:1-12 (the sending out of the 72), and learnt about the blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby, author of “To God be the Glory” and many others.

So the challenge was to create our own hymn, and what better to do than to set it to a Nursery Rhyme! This was written by Beth, Ali, Amy and Charlotte, all credit to them!

so: set to the tune of ‘Old MacDonald’

Our Lord God, He made the earth,
For us all to share.
Our Lord Jesus is alive,
He is everywhere.

People praising here,
People praising there
Here we pray
Every day
Every day we live and pray.

Our Lord God,
He made the earth,
For us all to share.

Jesus’ people spread the word
Healed sick in body and mind.
We go from church to tell good news
of Jesus who is kind.

People loving here
People loving there
Caring here
Sharing there
Praising Jesus everywhere.

Jesus’ people spread the word
Healed sick in body and mind.

Article in Praxis – News of Worship

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Full Article Text:

The Nursery Rhyme Mass – a childish approach to worship

Fr Simon Rundell, Parish Priest, Parishes of Bickleigh and Shaugh Prior, Plymouth, Diocese of Exeter.

Worship with children, especially sacramental worship with children needs to tread a fine line between accessibility for the participants and authenticity to the faith which is manifest in worship. Within the canon of Fresh Expressions, there have been many innovative gatherings which have struggled to find this balance, and the challenges of Messy Eucharist for example[1] to move from gathering to sacrament have been well documented.

The Nursery Rhyme Mass[2] (NRM) is an ongoing, collaborative initiative to enable authentic expression of the sacramental but in idioms which are appropriate to children from pre-school to school year 6 (Age 10/11). By reinterpreting the liturgical structure of Common Worship and by reworking age-appropriate rhymes set to traditional nursery rhyme tunes, a new liturgy is formed which is identifiably Anglican and yet owned by young people.

Brian Ogden published a series of Nativity Plays set to Nursery Rhymes[3] and this provided the springboard for parish youth workers and priest to collaborate to create this liturgy[4]. The key challenge was in the representation of each individual element of the liturgical structure with a suitable rhyme, and then to find appropriate rhymes. Many of the rhymes simply fell together with little effort and then were modified in practice, either to improve the rhyming scheme or to enhance the theological message.

So in an act of penitence, set to the tune of “Ba Ba Black Sheep”, after absolution there is a resounding song of thanks to “If you’re happy and you know it…” which culminates in a powerful “If you believe that God forgives you say “We do…””  “WE DO!” They all shout. Such liturgical elements can be frequently reused in Collective Worship, which (much to the approval of SIAMS Inspectors) emphasises the connection of school Collective Worship to the wider worshipping community with full gathering songs, penitential rites, intercessions and Trinitarian blessings borrowed directly from the NRM. Although a whole Eucharist Prayer was written (to the tune of Kum By Yah) it is always replaced by initially the excellent Roman Prayer 2 for Children and now the Common Worship Eucharistic Prayer for Children once it had been authorised.

Coming from a distinctly Anglican sacramental tradition, the NRM unashamedly seeks to express this Anglican charism within its texts, speaking of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and evoking images and metaphors consistent with liberal Anglocatholicism. In an age when certain powerfully rich Evangelical strands can enforce their own spin on Anglicanism through their materials, this is a subtle, low-tech and under-resourced response. Churches uncomfortable with the praying of the Hail Mary during the intercessions may simply omit it, for this Creative Commons-released project encourages local adaptation and refinement which can feed back into the project and enrich it. No copyright is claimed on the materials and they are freely available on the website:

It can be employed with little or no additional resource. The songs are always sung acapella. As a priest quite comfortable with the use of multimedia, I usually used slides for the liturgy but as demonstrated when the school projector was out of action, the children quickly absorbed the words and demonstrated that they actually didn’t need the text. A screen is much more engaging than a printed sheet of rhymes and these should be avoided as much as possible.

The NRM is used weekly in a Church of England Primary School, and frequently as the liturgy of a Family Mass aimed at pre-schoolers. In school, in their own time, between 8 and 20 young people participate and communicate weekly. This is connected to a parish ethos which is more concerned with administering the sacraments of salvation than preventing access to them: a completely open table is practiced and all children, regardless of baptism, admission to communion or confirmation are invited to communicate. However, for safeguarding reasons, in school, communion is received in only one kind (the Host) unless a child has been formally admitted to Holy Communion. Other Churches in the UK, Australia and Canada have also adopted its use and contributions and refinements are received from far and wide.

The use of the NRM has greatly increased the decision of unbaptised children to seek Baptism of their own volition, for families to find deeper and lasting connection with the church following Baptism and for young people to further engage in Admission to Holy Communion and Confirmation (depending upon age). In my own Parish, children who receive First Communion are strongly encouraged to continue to participate in sacramental worship from that point onwards. It has been used successfully at All Age Masses with positive response from both adults and children communicants.

So, if we are to proclaim the Gospel afresh in each generation[5] then we should be prepared to use tools which are both authentic to our spirituality and theological expression but which are couched in language, metaphor and style which reaches the participants. I pray that it will continue to grow and enable even more young people to meet with Christ in his most Holy and Blessed Sacrament.



Fr Simon Rundell



Twitter: @frsimon





Fr. Simon’s books:

Please feel free to take any image from the website:

[1] Accessed 18th January 2019

[2] Accessed 13th January 2019

[3] Ogden B (2002) Nursery Rhyme Nativities, BRF. Oxford.

[4] Rundell S (2011) Sacramental Worship with Children Canterbury Press. Norwich.

[5] Common Worship Ordinal


SIAMS Outstanding result thanks to NRM

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2015-05-21 08.35.36Bickleigh Down CofE Primary School just had its SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools) inspection, and we were proud to receive an Outstanding grade.

Of particular mention was the regular and inclusive sacramental life largely supported by the Nursery Rhyme Mass. So, if you too want to bring the sacramental life effectively into a school environment, why not consider the NRM…

Gloria – to Old MacDonald – revised version

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From the genius pen of Sue Wallace (@PrecentorSue), shortly to be Precentor of Winchester Cathedral

Where you see a word in red, the congregation can clap or ring a bell, hand chime

Glory be to God on high
On the earth be peace 
Lord and God and heavenly king
Our praises never cease

We praise you YES!
We bless you YES!
We praise you, bless you 
Glory and adore you
Thank you glorious God on high
Lord God Heavenly king. 

God Almighty Father Dear
Jesus Christ God’s son
Like a lamb you take our sin
The wrong things we have done

Hear our prayer YES!
Hear our prayer YES!
Hear us  Hear us.
Have mercy and be near us
For you are the Holy One. 
Father, Spirit, Son.

New Nursery Rhyme Mass element: Gloria to the tune of Old Macdonald

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This still needs revision, especially as I have copped out of a working of “everywhere and <animal sound>,<animal sound>” and gone for the equivilence of “ei-ei-o”

As usual, your comments and changes are appreciated. Especially for this one. Deadline is the 9th of Feb when we use it at S. Peter’s Eaton Square in London. Come and join us!

To the tune of Old Macdonald had a farm…

Glory be to God on high
To all on earth be peace
Lord God, Heavenly King
For you we praise and sing

O Lord God,
Lamb of God,
You take away
the sin of the world
Have mercy on us

You alone are the holy one
You alone are the Lord
You alone are the mo-ost high
Jesus Christ

In the Glory of God,
the Fa-a-ather
ever one
Always three


School Mass: 31st January: Mustard Seed

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In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

The Lord be with you
and also with you

Penitential Rite

Just like lost sheep we have gone astray
Done bad things and run away
So we come to say sorry
Make things better as you see
Loving Jesus make anew
Our lives so we can be like you.

Absolution (If you’re happy…)

You’re forgiven and you know it, so clap your hands
You’re forgiven and you know, so you really ought to show it,
You’re forgiven and you know it, so clap your hands

Jesus loves you and you know it, so stamp your feet
Jesus loves you and you know it, so you really ought to show it
Jesus loves you and you know it, so stamp your feet

If you believe that God forgives you, say “We do” “We do”
When you say that you are sorry, you no longer have to worry
God takes away your sin, so say “Amen”. Amen!


Let us pray…

Heavenly Father,
May our faith grow
As we grow with you
May it flourish and produce the fruits
Of goodness and kindness in our lives
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
who is alive
and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Gospel Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

This is the Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, O Christ


Here we are
One in Christ
Gathered here
Ain’t this nice?
So let us share a sign of peace
A kiss or hug before the feast…

The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you

Let us offer one another a sign of peace

Pray, my brothers and sisters, that this our sacrifice may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his Church.

Prayer over the gifts

Heavenly Father, we thank you for these gifts,
Bread and Wine, fruit of the earth
We pray you will change them
as you change us
by the power of your Holy Spirit

Preface (Kum By Yah)

The Lord is here right now
His spirit with us

Lift up your hearts to him
We lift them up

It’s the right thing to do
Yes Jesus, O yes, we come in prayer

Lord of all life,
you created the universe,
where all living things reflect your glory.
You give us this great and beautiful earth,
to discover and to cherish.

You give us sun and moon and star-lit sky,
everything that gives us light,
light for our eyes, our hearts, our minds.

You made us all,
each wonderfully different,
to join with the angels
and sing your praise:

Sanctus (Kum By Yah)

Holy, Holy Lord, O Holy God
Our prayers are joined
By the Saints
Blessed is the one
Who comes in peace
Blessed is the Prince of Peace

Eucharistic Prayer 2 for Children

Father, on the night before he died,
Jesus shared a meal with his friends.
He took the bread, and thanked you.
He broke it, and gave it to them, saying:

Take and eat; this is my body, given for you.
Do this to remember me.

After the meal, Jesus took the cup of wine.
He thanked you, and gave it to them, saying:

Drink this, all of you.
This is my blood,
the new promise of God’s unfailing love.
Do this to remember me.

Memorial Acclamation (Kum By Yah)

Let us proclaim Of our faith

“Christ has died
And has arisen
Christ will come
To us again
O yes, he will return”

Father, as we offer this bread and wine,
and remember his death and resurrection,
send your +Holy Spirit,
that we who share these gifts
may be fed by Christ’s body and his blood.

Pour your Spirit on us
that we may love one another,
work for the healing of the earth,
and share the good news of Jesus,
as we wait for his coming in glory.

For honour and praise belong to you, Father,
with Jesus your Son, and the Holy Spirit:
one God, for ever and ever.

Great Amen (Kum By Yah)

Amen, Amen
Let it be so,
Amen, Amen
Let it be so,
Amen, Amen
We say this now,
Amen, O yes, Amen!

Lord’s Prayer (Pop Goes the Weasel)

Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy na-a-ame.
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us all our si-i-ns
As we forgive
all those us who sin
or trespass against us

Let us not be drawn into
Any kind of temptation
Deliver us
from the evil one
Amen, Amen, Amen.

Agnus Dei (3 blind mice)

Lamb of God, Lamb of God
You take away, the sin of the world
Have mercy on us, Lamb of God
Don’t let us stray away from the flock
You take away the sin of the world
So grant us peace

Come and eat, come and drink
You’re welcome here, come quite near
Share in his body and blood with us
It tastes like wine and bread but just
Know that inside it’s not like that
Share the food of God.

Communion Antiphon:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8)

Prayer after Communion (Polly put the kettle on)

Thank you for the meal we eat
Thank you for the meal we eat
Thank you for the meal we eat
Christ brings us life

Now let us go from this place
Now let us go from this place
Now let us go from this place
To do his work

Blessing (Sing a Song of Sixpence)

The Lord be with you
And also with you

Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing

May the Lord now +bless you
And keep you all safe
Send you out from here
In a state of grace
Take what we have learned
About Jesus our King
And do what he has taught us
To make the world a better thing.

Go, the Mass has ended
But our service has begun
We heard it straight from Jesus
What it means to live as one
With him now up in heaven
Looking from above
Blessing us in all our work
Let’s go and share his love.

The Mass is ended.
Go in the Peace of Christ.
Thanks be to God