Steamship Shieldhall welcomed The Lord Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Jacqui Rayment, and her Chaplain Will Rosie, who oversaw a ‘Rogation of the Seas’ service on Sunday 14 May, the 5th Sunday following Easter.
The ‘Blessing of the Waters’ was revived after many years of absence in the Port of Southampton, with a service conducted in fine weather on Shieldhall’s open deck.
Those assembled onboard sang ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’; ‘Eternal Father Strong to Save’ and the city hymn ‘Our God, Our Help in Ages Past’ ahead of an address and prayer of thanks and blessing.
An explanation of the history of Rogation Sunday was given by local author Martin Brisland, and readings led by the Lord Mayor and See Southampton’s Katie Santos.
The Lord Mayor was delighted to see the ceremony reintroduced as one of the final acts in her mayoral year, and hoped that it would be repeated in years to come.
Her presence was most welcome as the ‘Admiral of the Port’, with the Admiral’s own flag flying – a St George’s Cross on a white background with a black anchor motif in the canton.
Fittingly, as the service commenced a large container ship approached its berth. It provided a backdrop to Will Rosie’s address reflecting the importance of the water to Southampton in providing a recreational, business and natural resource, that should not be taken for granted.
Rogation Sunday concluded with the ritual blessing of the waters, with the Chaplain’s request that we improve our stewardship of the sea and to note the symbolism of the service.
Shieldhall Chairman Martin Phipps thanked Associated British Ports for accommodating Shieldhall within the Port. He noted that Shieldhall’s home of 110 Berth allowed the ship to host community events such as Rogation Sunday, together with their traditional sailing programme, set to commence on Friday 16 June 2023.