Weekly message – Sunday 3 May

Rosemary RichterDear friends,

This letter comes to you on May Day. No Magdalen College Choir going up the Magdalen tower in Oxford early in the morning and singing a hymn to greet May Morning as usual, no maypole dancing on village greens, or Morris dancers out and about.

[In fact Magdalen College Choir recorded a Virtual May Morning so maintaining the 500-year-old tradition.]

When looking at May Day for Time Together last year I went off at a tangent, and found out that the Mayday distress call (‘Mayday, mayday, mayday’) originated in Croydon. As Croydon was a pioneering airport, they needed a word that would indicate distress, and be easily and unmistakably understood by pilots and ground staff in a time of emergency.

A senior radio officer, Frederick Mockford came up with Mayday as most of the air traffic was between Croydon and France, and Mayday is like the French for ‘help me’ – m’aider. It was then adopted as an international radiotelephone distress call. (Incidentally, this is not why the Croydon hospital was called Mayday – that was named earlier from the road it was originally sited in – though, who knows, familiarity with that road might have sparked a subconscious train of thought.)

M’aider (help me) is a consistent cry in the Psalms, which are appropriate reading at the moment! You do not have to venture far into the Psalms to find the phrase ‘help me’. Here are a very few:

  • But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Psalm 22 v.19
  • Arise to help me; look on my plight! Psalm 59 v.4
  • Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, Lord, to help me. Psalm 70 v.1
    This verse is particularly familiar from services of morning or evening prayer where the response to O God, make speed to save us is O Lord, make haste to help us.

If you are looking for something to do in the current lockdown, why not research the Psalms and find how many references there are to a cry to m’aider? But remember such Psalms come with verses that offer reassurance too! As in Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth..

Every blessing for this beginning to May.
Rosemary


Next message: Sunday 10 May