Remember, Remember, the fifth of November… amazingly not in Northern Ireland

Growing up in Northern Ireland with an English mother (I know, we all have crosses to bear) and an Ulsterman as a father leads to some interesting debates about what we celebrate in the house. Around our family home in Ballymena there was a great sense of community when my brothers and I were under ten and most of the local families had children under 18.

We used to have a community bonfire around this time of year. You know the sort of thing, one family brings toffee apples, someone else actual toffee, others fudge, others sandwiches, others cups of tea, and others still lots of wood for the fire. However, as this was Northern Ireland, we had it not on 5 November but on All Hallows Eve, or Hallowe’en on 31 October.

Why not on 5 November?

I don’t really know why we don’t celebrate it – after all it is the celebration of the execution of a Catholic Terrorist following a failed attempt to blow up the three Estates of Parliament.

That being said, the United Church of England and Ireland used to have a set service for this day for

For the happy Delivereance of King James I and the three Estates of England, from the most traiterous and bloody-intended Massacre by Gundpowder: And also for the happy Arrival of his Majesty King William on this Day for the Deliverance of our Church and Nation.

Book of Common Prayer 1836

There were several set prayers, including:

Almighty God and heavenly Father, who of thy gracious Providence and tender mercy towards us, didst prevent the malice and imaginations of our enemies, by discovering and confounding their wicked Enterprize, plotted and intended this day to have been executed the King, and the whole State of England, for the subversion of the Government and Religion established among us; and didst likewise upon this day wonderfully conduct thy Servant King William, and bring him safely into England, to preserve us from the attempts of our enemies to bereave us of our Religion and Laws: We most humbly praise and magnify thy most glorious Name for thy unspeakable goodness towards us, expressed in both these acts of thy mercy. We confess it has been of thy mercy alone, that we are not consumed: For our sins have cried to heaven against us; and our iniquities justly called for vengeance upon us. But thou hast not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us after our iniquities; nor give us over, as we deserved, to be a prey to our enemies; but hast in mercy delivered us from their malice, and preserved us from death and destruction. Let the consideration of this thy repeated goodness, O Lord, work in us true repentance, that iniquity may not be our ruin. And increase in us more and more a lively faith and love, fruitful in all holy obedience; that thou mayest still continue thy favour, with the light of thy Gospel, to us and our posterity for evermore; and that for thy dear Son’s sake, Jesus Christ our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

To bring the collect for use up to date for the present Reign it could be

Eternal God, and our most might Protector, we thy unworthy servants do humbly present ourselves before thy Majesty, acknowledging thy power, wisdom, and goodness, in preserving the King, and the Three Estates of the Realm of England assembled in Parliament, from the destruction this day intended against them. Make us, we beseech thee, truly thankful for this, and for all other thy great mercies towards us; particularly for making this day again memorable, by a fresh instance of thy loving-kindness towards us. We bless thee for giving his late Majesty King William a safe arrival here, and for making all opposition fall before him, till he became our King and Governour. We beseech thee to protect and defend our Sovereign Queen ELIZABETH, and all the Royal Family, from all treasons and conspiracies; Preserve her in thy faith, fear, and love’ Prosper her Reign with long happiness here on earth; and crown her with everlasting glory hereafter; through Jesus Christ our only Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.

Of course, these were removed from the Book of Common Prayer later in the reign of Queen Victoria. But it does seem strange that the loyal Ulster prods do not make a big thing about today. It may have something to do with the weather being better in July!

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