Ancaster Church: Happy Bosses

At Ancaster Church in Lincolnshire, a number of carved figures beam down from the ceiling. This is not uncommon in old churches; masons and carpenters enjoyed showing their skills, especially if the person or persons paying the bill had shillings enough to spare. Helped by a more powerful lens than that to which I usually have access, I was struck by how jolly and cheerful they were. Some depict musicians playing their various devices; the one below holds some kind of wind instrument:

This one has a two-part pipe:

This chap strums a lute:

This portly fellow appears to be singing:

Joining the musicians there seems to be a number of warriors, at least one of which might be a crusader with the cross upon his shield, and several more bearing shields and buffers upon which are no motifs at all. Yet their faces are as cheery and warm as can be, a very different image to the snarling medieval soldier we might have expected to fill the ranks of an invader’s force.

Even the carved kings and queen, masters of control and dignity, appear to be offering some approving acquiescence.

So what is taking place to effect such mirth and satisfaction? All these figures gaze down upon the worshippers below. Although I am the first to loathe the crass entertainment which in many churches masquerades as worship, and the counterfeit spirituality which pretends to be from the Holy Spirit, worship is to be enjoyed. This is its primary purpose- to being satisfaction, pleasure and glory to the great God. And if He sits high in our affection, bringing Him praise and worship become almost as pleasurable to we who offer it. Whether you be a warrior, a musician, or a plain Joe Meatball or Sally Housecoat, bring to God your songs of worship, and sing, pray and contemplate Him with pleasure.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Psalm 100:2

How pleasant, how divinely fair,
O Lord of Hosts, thy dwellings are!
With long desire my spirit faints,
To meet the assemblies of thy saints.

Blest are the saints who sit on high,
Around the throne of majesty;
Thy brightest glories shine above,
And all their work is praise and love.

Blest are the souls that find a place
Within the temple of thy grace;
There they behold thy gentler rays,
And seek thy face, and learn thy praise.

Blest are the men whose hearts are set
To find the way to Zion’s gate;
God is their strength, and through the road
They lean upon their helper, God.

Isaac Watts, in Gadsby's Hymns, No 369