And can it be?
on the occasion of Tessa Rust's ordination as a pioneer minister in the Church of England in July 2011, to Thomas Campbell's tune for Charles Wesley's "And can it be", plus a bit of Taize reprised with additional words three years later.
And can it be that she should gain
a First in Contextual Theology?
So many essays and so much pain
to gain a non-stipendiary curacy!
Amazing Tessa, how could it be
that she should join the ministry?
She left her parents in Australia
and came to the UK where the action is.
Here she became a solicita
and married some geezer in the music biz.
They had three kids, and all were fair
and nearly all the family have lots of hair.
But long her imprisoned spirit lay
fast bound in wife- and motherhood—
picking up Lego for half the day
and listening to the Archers while preparing food.
“There must be more”, she thought, “or I will
I’ll go and volunteer to help the church in
She led mums and toddlers, and ministered
then took over the running of the Drop-In place,
soon all her days were spent in pastoral care
and singing Taize choruses at Sacred Space:
Tessa hear my prayer (x2)
Don’t forget to stop at Sainsbury
Oh Tessa hear my prayer (x2)
Please get some nut-free muffins for tea
heard the call to be a pioneer,
to move the C of E from darkness into light;
studied past midnight for three long years,
and filled up the house with books by
N T Wright.
Now she has learned where the Trinity came from
and doubled the profits of Amazon.com!
No ordination now she dreads—
just fresh church expressions for her to found;
learning a surplice is not an overhead,
and wearing her shirts all the wrong way round.
Bold she approached the altar of St Paul
and claimed the right to cure us all!
Verses added at the end of Tessa's curacy three years later, before taking up her post as Chaplain to Heathrow Airport:
And can it be—the pioneer returned
to make a fresh expression for all of us!
Brought all the lessons that she had learned—
a sign it was from God when Snips acquired a Plus!
Now we all hail our beloved reverend Tess
who turns the crypt each monthinto a holy Mess!
‘Tis mystery all: her future is plane
to bring to Heathrow’s millions some real air care.
Yet though she’s going, she’ll still remain—
and somehow stay right here while going over there!
‘Tis mercy all! Her air ministry’s assured—
three years have passed, and she is cured!
Sung by Godfrey, Emma, Joel and Adam in Cafe Rouge, St Paul's Churchyard following Tessa's ordination at St Paul's Cathedral, July 2nd 2011. The last two verses were added at the completion of Tessa's curacy at St John's, West Ealing, and the whole thing sung there by Godfrey, Emma, Joel and Adam at her "farewell" service on June 15. 2014. "Snips" was the twice-weekly play group community which Tessa led during her curacy, and "Snips Plus Family Church" the Messy Church congregation which she started and continued to lead after the end of her curacy (as she was not taking up a parish role, there was no reason to leave St John's).