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(Background and notes)

The following is an extract Taken from an Address called "GOD'S HUMBLER CREATIONS"
given by "Zodiac" at Sheerness on Sunday, 23rd April, 1933...

"…I want to touch on another aspect of love, and I think that ere we part you will find that it is all gathered into that same sweet phrase: Little children, love one another, for in the Heart and Mind of God all life is one, and each individual is dependent upon, borrowing from, or helping another.

"…I want you to think of your responsibilities towards those other forms of life which seem to you as something lesser than that represented by humanity, something only for man's use; but you know full well that there are some who abuse their powers. In the Holy Book it is written that God created all life and that He gave unto man dominion over other creations. And it seems to some that this has brought about a state of affairs where much injustice can take place; and it is true. There are men and women in every clime who realise not that all life is one, and so it is that not only in this enlightened country of your own, but throughout the world, now and again the hearts and minds of thoughtful people are wrung over the cruelty which is given out to God's Humbler Creations.

"…I want you to lay aside the thought of your own lot in detail, and rather to think of the lot of the lesser creations of God - lesser to man's mind alone - for in the Heart of Love each creature of His has its own place, is of equal value, and indeed contributes to the Divine Plan. This is a fact which has been overlooked throughout the long ages.

"…As you take your way, whether through the busy town, out in the sweet countryside, or by the water as the wild waves are dashing up, oh pray for the life in the sea, pray for the birds in the air, pray for the flowers; and all the while seek to harness, train and develop the resources they possess." - Zodiac

(NB. It should be observed that the following notes written to accompany the Service for Animals and Other Creatures, were penned in the middle of the nineteenth century)...

Cruelty and the selfish disregard of the sufferings of the creatures which God has made are symbols of man's unprogressed state. As soon as we are spiritually awakened our vision extends beyond ourselves and our own kind. We see that Nature ministers unto Man and that Man has a duty to Nature, and that Nature is largely dependent on Man in expressing its creative power.

So the Law of Love is gradually unfolded to us, and as we continue to extend our love and understanding, it becomes plain that we are the custodians of other forms of life; and if we use them in service to ourselves it must be with due regard to their needs, their well-being, and their sensitivity to pain. Have we not a direct statement in the New Testament that there is not one sparrow that falls to the ground unheeded by the Creator?

All this brings us to the idea of special Services for Animals and other Creatures. We know that God is mindful of them all, and are they not entitled to His blessing upon them? Therefore we invite all those who seek to do God's Will to meet together to pray for their own Animals as well as all the Creatures who are dependent upon man's care. As Man expresses his own gift of Divinity towards all life, so, eventually will the Animal World cease to fear him; the time will come when the promise of God will be worked out: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain." (Isaiah 11: 6.)


Some pioneer work has been done in this direction, and successful Church Services for Animals have been arranged by several clergymen. The Rev. Prebendary L. J. B. Snell, M.B.E., Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Hereford, has field Animal Services for several years, and thousands of people have attended with their pets. Prebendary Snell writes: "The last Service was not held in the Church itself, as although it accommodates 1,000 people it was not large enough to provide for the large crowds that came, so we now hold them in the garden. The Service has been broadcast, televised and filmed. The most impressive note of these Services was the marvellous behaviour of the animals themselves on the first two occasions when the Service was held in the Church. No noise and no fighting between natural enemies on this occasion. All the children made a joint promise: "I will always be kind to animals."


An annual Service for Animals is held at St. Andrew's Church, Queen's Road, Hastings. At the Service on April 8th, 1951, the Vicar, the Rev. J. S. Combridge, A.K.C., was assisted by two other clergymen. The Mayor, who was accompanied by the Mayoress, read the Lesson. Members of the following Societies were also present: British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection; Cats' Protection League; Children and Animals' League of Friendship; League Against Cruel Sports; National Anti-Vivisection Society; People's Dispensary for Sick Animals; Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; World League Against Vivisection and for the Protection of Animals.

These particulars are given to show the wide linking up which is possible in holding these Services, and how great is the need for the Churches to be naturally associated with the Animal Societies in their spiritual work.


The National Equine and Smaller Animals Defence League, Carlisle, which has a Home of Rest for Horses, held at their Headquarters an open-air Service for Animals on October 4th, 1951. Five Church of England Vicars, a Salvation Army Officer, a Methodist Minister and a Unitarian Representative were present at the Service and all took part. It was a combined Harvest Thanksgiving Service, with corn sheaves, flowers and fruit, an outside pulpit and a large Cross. Horses, donkeys, goats, dogs, etc. were brought to the Service.

The Service opened with a short Address, then a hymn, prayer, the 23rd Psalm (amplified by loudspeaker), Bible Reading: The lion shall lie down with the lamb (Isaiah 11, 6), Hymn, second Bible Reading, short Address, Hymn, Blessing.


October 4th is called World Day for Animals. It was inaugurated by the World League for Protection of Animals in 1928 to commemorate the great Christian and humane work of St. Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226, and this day is recognised universally by Animal Societies all over the world.

Animals' Welfare Week is the first complete week in May, and takes in the first two Sundays. This week is used for special Services for Animals and other welfare work on their behalf.

In the event of children being invited to bring their pets and to take part in the Animals' Service, the practical arrangements for this will be left to the Leader of the Service.


With deep affection must we think on the holiness of this blessed man who was of such wondrous sweetness that he conquered the wild beasts and tamed the woodland creatures.

When he bethought him of the first beginning of things, he was filled with a yet more overflowing charity, and would call the dumb animals, however small, by the names of "Brother" and "Sister," forasmuch as he recognised in them the same origin as in himself.

St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most tender and sweetest of Christian saints, was the son of a well-to-do merchant, and he passed his youth in the little town of Assisi in Italy. He was a gay and happy boy and much beloved by all who knew him. But a severe illness in early manhood turned his thoughts away from the thoughtless pleasure-loving life he was leading. Mysterious voices called him to the service of the Lord, and to the disgust of his father, who hoped to see him follow his own calling, Francis responded to the Heavenly Voice which said to him: "Francis, go, repair my house that thou seest is all in ruins."


Fetching stones, with his own hands Francis began to repair the little Chapel of St. Damian which can be visited to this day in Assisi. Hearing of this the wrath of the father knew no bounds. He considered his son was mad and reported him to the authorities. But there was no doubt in the mind of Francis that God had called him. He threw all his rich garments at the feet of his father and wrapped himself in a rough peasant cloak and tied a rope round his waist. In this way the Franciscan Order was founded.

The central idea of the teaching of St. Francis is to be found in the words: "Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece" (St. Luke 9: 3). He determined to follow this teaching quite simply and implicitly, and soon he was joined by other men who likewise would have neither gold, nor silver, nor wallet, nor shoes, nor staff, and with but one coat went forth to call men back to righteousness.


Through the length and breadth of Italy the barefoot disciples of Francis carried the message of love and good-will and poverty. But Francis would not have them beg; they were to work, but not to amass riches. Whenever it was known that Francis was coming to a village or a town the whole community dropped what they were doing to go and listen to him. The bells were rung - the merchant left his desk, the trader his shop, the workman his tools, and men, women and children together went forth to meet him, to touch the hem of his tunic or to kiss his footprints in the ground. So great was his power and influence over others that the Franciscan Order grew with great rapidity and soon had spread beyond the bounds of Italy.


St. Francis regarded all people and all things as his Sisters and Brothers. It was Brother Sun; Sister Water; Brother Fire and Sister Death. Above all did he love animals and birds. Often he would buy back lambs that were being taken to be killed. He would greet the sheep in the. fields and they would leave their feeding and run towards him.

The years went on and at last the gentle Francis, worn out with illness and the hard life he had lived, walking and preaching, came to die. With his loved followers around him his joyous gracious spirit left the Earth; but his memory and the story of his life and message of love to all God's creatures remains for us to follow.

(As told by Saint Bonaventura in his Life of St. Francis)

When Francis drew nigh unto Bevagna he came unto a spot wherein a great multitude of birds of divers species were gathered together. When the holy man of God perceived them, he ran with all speed unto the place and greeted them as if they shared in human understanding. They on their part all awaited him and turned toward him, those that were perched on bushes bending their heads as he drew nigh unto them and diligently exhorted them all to hear the Word of God, saying : "My brothers the Birds, much ought ye to praise your Creator, Who hath clothed you with feathers and given you wings to fly, and hath made over unto you the pure air, and careth for you without your taking thought for yourselves."

While he was speaking unto them these and other words, the little birds - behaving themselves in wondrous wise - began to stretch their necks, to spread their wings, to open their beaks and to look intently on him. He, with wondrous fervour of Spirit, passed in and out among them, touching them with his habit, nor did one of them move from the spot until he had made the sign of the Cross over them and given them leave; then, with the blessing of the man of God, they all flew away together.

All these things were witnessed by his companions that stood awaiting him by the way. Returning unto them, the simple and holy man began to blame himself for neglect in that he had not before then preached to the birds.

(For further information on St. Francis of Assisi, see THE LITTLE FLOWERS and THE LIFE OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI)


(Appropriate: "All things bright and beautiful.")


OUR FATHER, Who art in Heaven, all hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. When in temptation Thy love sustains us, and deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory. For ever and for ever. Amen.

LOVING FATHER, on all sides we see manifestations of Thy glorious creative power. We ask for a special blessing this day upon all animals and creatures which Thou hast made, including these our friends brought here with loving hands and thankful hearts. Help us to show them the same care that we would wish for ourselves. As all Life is linked to Thee, we realise that we represent one vast family of Thy children. Bless them with health and happiness, and grant that we may always remember to be grateful for the gift of their companionship. Help us, dear Father, to show our gratitude to Thee by treating them ever with gentleness and understanding. With faith we ask all these things in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Appropriate: Isaiah 11: 1-9. Use could also be made of
"The Preaching to the Birds by Saint Francis of Assisi" - as given in the Introduction.)

Because of copyright issues, a portion of each Church Service has been removed.
However, it is possible to acquire a new Book of Services from:
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