Choosing Godparents

There are very few hard and fast rules about choosing godparents for your child, but there are probably three boxes you need to tick first:

1) The Church of England does ask that godparents have been Baptised. The Church also recommends that godparents are Confirmed, although this is not essential.

2) You will need a minimum of three godparents, two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. You and your husband/wife can be godparents, but there must be at least one additional godparent.

3) Godparents are not only making a personal commitment, they are also representing your child at the Christening, so the godparents have to be old enough to understand their role. It may seem attractive to ask a young cousin to become a godparent, but always consider whether they are mature enough to understand the promises they will be making.

Godparents are not taking on a legal obligation. They are not responsible in law for your child and are not obliged to care for your child should anything happen to you – You are not asking them to become a legal guardian. You are however asking them to make a lifelong commitment to your child’s spiritual and emotional wellbeing.

Remember, you are choosing someone who will be a spiritual and emotional guide for your child … It is easy to choose a godparent for the wrong reasons. Just because someone is wealthy, it doesn’t mean they will have the emotional maturity for the job or the commitment. Don’t choose somebody out of loyalty because they are an “old mate” or because you want to show them some recognition as a token of friendship. Also, just because someone has asked you to be the godparent of their child, it doesn’t mean you have to reciprocate and ask them to be a godparent in return. And, finally, think carefully before asking work colleagues, especially superiors, unless of course you are very close friends.

The bottom line: Choose a godparent for your child … not for you. You are choosing someone who you trust to provide encouragement in spiritual and church life and emotional support throughout childhood.

Try not to put your friends in a difficult position. Think about the character of the person you will be asking. If they are not churchgoers but are spiritually aware, they may be happy to make the declarations and commitments required at the Baptism. However if you are considering a friend who holds strong views about religion, or who would find the declarations at the service difficult to affirm, you may be placing them in the embarrassing dilemma of wanting to refuse, but not wanting to let you down at the same time.

Depending upon the church, the vicar and the service chosen, the godparents will be asked to answer a series of questions and make declarations on your child’s behalf … these vary according to recent changes in the service, but here is an example of the sort of responses you will be asking the godparents to say – will the godparents you are considering be happy to do this?:

Vicar: “Parents and godparents, the Church receives these children with joy. Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith. Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?”
Godparents: With the help of God, we will.

Vicar: “In baptism these children begin their journey in faith. You speak for them today. Will you care for them,and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church?”
Godparents: With the help of God, we will.

Vicar: “In baptism, God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light. To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him. Therefore I ask:

“Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?”
Godparents Response: I reject them.

“Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?”
Godparents Response: I renounce them.

“Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?”
Godparents Response: I repent of them.

“Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?”
Godparents Response: I turn to Christ.

“Do you submit to Christ as Lord?”
Godparents Response: I submit to Christ.

“Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?”
Godparents Response: I come to Christ.

It may be worth reading those declarations again and considering whether the godparents you have chosen will be comfortable making these declarations. Recent changes to the service may have toned down the wording, but the underlying meaning remains the same – ask your vicar for a copy of the service your church uses.

And finally … and I speak from experience … If you are going to ask one of the godparents to make a speech, do warn them in advance. Even the best raconteur needs a bit of time to gather their thoughts … The more time they have to prepare for a speech or toast the more meaningful it will be.

Share

What’s in a Name – The UK’s Top 5 Names for Baby Boys

A recent survey of birth records by Ancestry.co.uk shows that a number of once popular boys names are now effectively “extinct”. In 2012 not a single baby boy was named Willie, Cecil or Rowland, whilst names like Horace, Leslie and Norman have almost died out. These names were very common 100 years ago, but times are changing and the likelihood of meeting a “Cecil” in the school playground over the next few years is rare to say the least.

Between 1900 and 1930 names like Cecil and Norman held the top spots, so what names are replacing them now that they have fallen from favour? The last records from the Office for National Statistics put “Harry” as the number one most popular name for baby boys in England, followed by “Oliver”, “Jack”, “Charlie” & “Jacob”, supplanting earlier favourites like “Thomas”, “William” and “Alfie”.

So where have these names come from and what do they mean?

1: HARRY

A diminutive or pet form of Henry, Harry has become an increasingly popular boy’s name since the mid nineteen-nineties … Prince Harry and young Harry Potter may have added to the popularity of the name and recent celebrities like Harry Styles from One Direction have probably helped maintain the number one position for the last few years.

Henry was originally a Germanic name for a leader – “Heimrich” – where “heim” means “home” and “rich” which means “ruler, leader or power” …. So Henry and Harry are regal names. The Normans introduced the name in the 11th century and by 1547 England had had eight kings named Henry.

One celebrity “Harry” you might struggle to name is the Prince of Pop himself, Cliff Richard, whose real name is Harry Webb.

Other diminutives include: Hal & Hank
Foreign alternatives: Heinrich, Enrique, Henny, Henning, Enzo & Harri

2: OLIVER

Oliver is the Norman French form of the Norse name “Olaf”. Because of its resemblance to the Latin word for olive tree, “oliva”, the name Oliver has come to be associated with peacemakers (the olive branch) and fruitfulness. The religious and cultural importance of the olive in the ancient and biblical worlds has also imbued the name Oliver with a spiritual strength coupled with a reliable and supportive nature.

The popularity of “Oliver” has been mixed over the last few centuries in the UK. During the Medieval period the name was popularised in “The Song of Roland”, an epic poem in which Olivier played the reliable and sensible foil to Roland’s impetuous and impulsive character. Following the English Civil War, the Commonwealth and the Protectorate of Cromwell in the mid 17th century, Oliver became increasingly unpopular. Oliver Cromwell didn’t receive a great press for many years after The Restoration and the name suffered as a result. It was only in Victorian times that the name saw a resurgence, during which time Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” brought the name back into the public eye.

In 1970, heart-throb Ryan O’Neal played the lead character “Oliver” in a romantic weepy called “Love Story”. The movie played to an audience of millions of swooning teenage girls, so it should come as no surprise that “Oliver” became an increasingly popular name for baby boys born in the following two decades.

Other diminutives include: Ollie, Oli
Foreign alternatives: Alvaro, Olaf, Olivier

3: JACK

“Jack” is another diminutive or pet form, this time of the name “John”, that was derived from the old English name “Jankin” (or Jackin). Whilst John has its origins in Hebrew and close associations with the saints John the Baptist and the Apostle John, Jack is a much more down to earth name. It was so popular in the Middle Ages, that Jack simply became another word for a man … hence “Jack of all Trades”, “Lumberjack” and even the “Jack” in a pack of cards. In nursery rhymes and stories he appears again and again: Jack & the Beanstalk, Jack & Jill, Jack Sprat and Little Jack Horner. And, unfortunately, the name also became a generic pseudonym for an unidentified man such as “Jack the Ripper”.

As far as famous Jacks go, children today are probably most aware of the pirate Jack Sparrow, but anyone who can remember November 22nd 1963 will know that President John F Kennedy was called Jack by friends and family.

Other diminutives include: Jake, Jackie
Foreign alternatives: Jock, Jocky

4: CHARLIE

Derived from the Germanic name “Karl”, Charlie is a diminutive form of “Charles” and can also be used as a girls name. Originally meaning “man” or “free man” in old German languages, the name Charles was adopted by many European royal families after the rule of Charles the Great (Charlemagne) and the rise of the Holy Roman Empire. The name only found prominence in England after the Stuart kings Charles I and Charles II came to the throne in the 17th century.

Because it is a diminutive, pet name, Charlie is always seen as friendly and fun-loving. Many of the Charlies you can think of are light-hearted and fun: Charlie Brown, Charlie Chaplin, Charlie Higson, Charlie Parker and Charlie Watts. Probably the best known Charlie in the world is Charlie Davies-Carr …. does the name ring a bell? Over 700 million people have seen this Charlie’s 56 second video on YouTube … yes, he stars in “Charlie Bit My Finger”.

Other diminutives include: Chaz, Chip, Chuck
Foreign alternatives: Karl, Kalle, Carlitos, Carlos

5: Jacob

The fifth most popular baby boy’s name in England is Jacob. It is the most popular name in the USA.

Up until The Reformation in the 16th century, the name Jacob was mainly used in Jewish culture. This is understandable since Jacob was the third patriarch and the father of the tribes of Israel. The recent popularity of Jacob is not so easy to explain. This Hebrew name means “supplanter” or “usurper” – Jacob cheated his older twin brother out of his birthright and deceived his blind father into blessing him instead of his brother Esau. But Jacob, later named “Israel”, found redemption and forgiveness and the name today is associated with honesty, truthfulness and a warm heart.

Strangely enough, the recent popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s series of “Twilight” books has given the name Jacob added support for a few more years – the enigmatic and brooding character of Jacob Black has grabbed the imagination of many teenage readers who will be parents naming baby boys in a few years time.

Other diminutives include: Jake, Jacko
Foreign alternatives: Jakob, Jago, Iago, Giacomo

So, what for the future? Well, names to keep an eye on include: Hugo (up 51 places), Kayden (up 662 places), Dexter (up 327 places), Ollie (up 306 places) and Jenson (up 242 places). The engravers at CHRISTENINGsilver have got their money on “George” and “Louis” making a big showing over the next few years …. I wonder why?

Don’t forget once you have settled on a name, we have a fantastic range of christening gifts for boys available on our website here, many of which can also be engraved with the chosen name.

Share