Simple Exposition and Benediction at Greenbelt

From apparently nowhere in the Jesus Arms in the middle of the Greenbelt Festival we produce a couple of crates which are placed one on top of another on a table to produce an impromptu throne. It is draped with a sumptuous white/gold cloth.

Sanctuary bells are rung, and Jesus is brought out in the simple St Thomas Monstrance.

Two balti dishes of incense are laid at the foot of the throne, and two large, squat candles are lit. No-one is in vestments or even clericals, although we will use a humeral veil later.

The team burst into unaccompanied O Salutaris to the tune of “The Day Thou Gavest”. If possible a thurible is used.

O saving Victim, open wide
The gate of Heaven to man below;
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply; Thy strength bestow.

All praise and thanks to thee extend,
For ever more, bless’d one in three.
O grant us life that shall not end,
In our true native land with thee.

Blessed, praised, hallowed and adored be
our Lord Jesus Christ on his throne of Glory
And in the most holy sacrament of the altar

There follows silence. Prayers aloud may be extemporaneous, but may draw from these:

Now as the sun sets in the west,
soft lamplight glows as evening starts;
thus, light from light, God’s Son all blest
comes from the immortal Father’s heart;

We therefore sing our joyful songs
the Father, Holy Spirit, Son,
to whom in every age belongs
by right all praise from every tongue

Lord Jesus, Son of God, from you
all life, all joy come forth this night;
the world, and each soft glowing hue,
reflect the glory of your light.

Phos Hilaron, 2nd Century

O most sacred redeemer,
Give us wisdom to recognise you,
Intelligence to understand you,
Diligence to seek you,
Patience to wait for you,
Eyes to see you,
Hearts to meditate on you
And lives to proclaim you,
Through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

Benedict of Nursia 6th C

Let everyone be struck with fear,
the whole world tremble,
and the heavens exult
when Christ, the Son of the living God,
is present on the altar

O wonderful loftiness
and stupendous dignity!
O sublime humility!
O humble sublimity!
The Lord of the universe,
God and the Son of God,
so humbles Himself
that He hides Himself
for our salvation
under and ordinary piece of bread!

See the humility of God, brothers and sisters,
and pour out your hearts before Him!
Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by Him!
Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves,
that He Who gives Himself totally to you
may receive you totally!

St Francis of Assisi 12th C

Hail to thee, true body born
From Virgin Mary’s womb!
The same that on the cross was nailed
And bore for man the bitter doom.
Thou, whose side was pierced and flowed
Both with water and with blood;
Suffer us to taste of thee,
In our life’s last agony.
O kind, O loving one!
O sweet Jesus, Mary’s Son!


Lord Jesus Christ, present before us in this Blessed Sacrament,
Stay with us today, and stay from now on, every day, according
to the desire of my heart, which accepts the appeal of so many hearts
from various parts, sometimes far away… Stay that we may meet You in
prayers of adoration and thanksgiving, in prayers of expiation and
petition to which all those who visit this place are invited…

May all those of us who take part in the adoration of Your Eucharistic Presence attest with every visit and make ring out again the truth contained in the Apostle’s words: ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Amen

Pope John Paul II

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgements
and how inscrutable his ways!
`For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counsellor?’
`Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?’
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory for ever! Amen.

Romans 11:33-36 (NRSV)

Lord Jesus Christ, present before us in the most holy sacrament of the altar
you are the sun that always rises but never sets.
You are the source of all life,
creating and sustaining every living thing.
You are the source of all food, material and spiritual,
nourishing us in both body and soul.
You are the light which dispels the clouds of error and doubt
and goes before me every hour of the day,
guiding my thoughts and my actions.
May I walk in your light,
Be nourished by your food,
be sustained by your mercy,
and be warmed by your love.

Erasmus, 16th Century

Heart of Jesus, think on us.
Eyes of Jesus, look on us.
Face of Jesus, shine on us.
Hands of Jesus, bless us,
Feet of Jesus, guide us,
Arms of Jesus, hold us,
Body of Jesus, feed us,
Blood of Jesus, cleanse us,
Make us, Jesus, your own, both here and in the world to come. Amen

Sr Elizabeth Ruth Obbard ODC

My God, and my all

Francis of Assisi, 13th Century

We pray before the Blessed Sacrament
For the sick
For the dying
For the alone
For the afraid
For the refugee
For the homeless
For the oppressed
For the abused

Christ is the comfort for all of these

We pray before the Blessed Sacrament
For the joyful
For the comforted
For the blessed
For the bountiful
For the healthy
For the contented
For the hopeful
For those at peace

Christ is with all of these.

SPR, 20th C

Shout to the Lord, all the earth Let us sing.
Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands
Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

My Jesus, My Saviour
Lord there is none like You
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love
My Comfort, My Shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You

Shout to the Lord, all the earth Let us sing.
Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands
Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

Darleen Zanesh 20th C
(This is at its most powerful when proclaimed as poetry and not sung)

He is the bread sown in the Virgin, leavened in the Flesh, moulded in his passion, baked in the furnace of the sepulchre, placed in the churches, and set upon the altars, which daily supplies heavenly food to the faithful.

Peter Crysologus, 5th C

More silence followed by the Divine Praises

Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most spouse most chaste.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His Saints.

And the Tantum Ergo to the tune of “Let all mortal flesh”. The balti dishes are restoked and if possible, the thurible is used.

Therefore we, before him bending,
this great Sacrament revere;
types and shadows have their ending,
for the newer rite is here;
faith, our outward sense befriending,
makes our inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing
to the Father and the Son,
honour, might and praise addressing,
while eternal ages run;
ever too his love confessing,
who from Both with Both is One.

The Humeral Veil is placed over the priest giving benediction

Thou gavest them Bread from heaven, alleluia;
Containing within Itself all sweetness, alleluia.

Let us pray.

O GOD, who in a wonderful Sacrament
hast left unto us a memorial of thy Passion:
grant us, we beseech thee,
so to venerate the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood,
that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption;
who livest and reignest with the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen

The Priest gives benediction to the stunned people in the Jesus Arms as bells are rung.

At Reposition, the people sing:

Blessed and Praised be Jesus Christ in his most holy sacrament
Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in excelsis

Jesus is taken down, the candles, balti dishes, crates and cloths are removed and we scarper for a pint.


It took a couple of hours for it to sink in, but the parable in action of taking Jesus into the pub, and performing benediction there is significant. Reaction to the ‘spontaneous worship’ was great and a number of people really appreciated it, and spoke to members of the team afterwards. The setup was rapid and the looks on people’s faces as the bells rang out was just what I was hoping for.

At the actual act of benediction, I climbed onto the bench and gave the blessing from there: another risky strategy which paid off. Nor did my greatest fear materialise: I was not bludgeoned to death by my own monstrance by angry protestants. Sue commented “they are very forgiving at Greenbelt”, and that was both true and a wonderful tribute to the event.

The ale was sold out, but they sold a lovely Dark (Bock) Lager which was a perfect end to that act. I was interviewed holding a pint by the media team who had filmed it (I hope we see the film sometime) and they asked me whether I would do it again next year…

“Next Year? I think I’ll do it in the pub at home next friday!”