A Guide for Godparents – Everything You Need to Know

For Christians, to be asked to be a Godparent is a great honour. It can also, however, be a daunting request. Prospective Godparents should therefore acquaint themselves with exactly what will be asked of them and prepare themselves for the task.

What exactly is a Godparent?

A godparent is a person who aids in a child’s spiritual education and development. Such an undertaking will comprise many different aspects.

Teach Christian values

One of the most crucial roles of the godparent is to impress upon the child the importance of Christian values and if possible, the scriptural justification for these values. Among these values are respect for the sanctity of life, compassion and tolerance. If you do this, then the bulk of your work as Godparent is already done; all of the other roles stem from this.

Teach Christian philosophy

When the child is old enough, you might wish to talk to them (or they may wish to talk to you) about how these values can inform ethical questions such as those surrounding divisive topics like abortion and euthanasia. In such questions, these values sometimes find themselves at odds with one another – as do the Christians who hold them.

You should encourage free thought and challenge the child to reach their own conclusions rather than prescribing yours. Their way of looking at things may be entirely at odds with yours. It may be that you learn as much from them as they do from you!

Children can often pose questions that no adult would – out of some sense of pragmatism. It may be that you come to realise that you aren’t as sure about what you believe as you had previously thought.

Here are a few classic questions:

“Why is there so much suffering in the world?”

“Why do good things happen to bad people?”

“How did God come to be?”

“What if we’re praying to the wrong God?”

These questions have puzzled the most brilliant Christian thinkers for centuries, so do not feel dispirited if you find yourself unable to answer to them. They are difficult and will probably never be answered definitively! If you are about to become a Godparent, it would perhaps be wise to devote some thought to them yourself. You might be fielding them sooner than you think!

Prayer

Part of your role as Godparent is to instruct the child as to exactly how and why Christians pray. This should include both an explanation of the language of formal prayer and instruction as to exactly which prayers are spoken when.

As well as providing instruction in prayer for the child, you will also be expected to pray on their behalf. If you are already in the habit of praying, then this is not a difficult task – indeed, it might be one you had planned on doing in any case.

Teach through example

The ideal godparent should lead through example in all things spiritual. If you tell your spiritual charge to do one thing and then do precisely the opposite, then the message is highly unlikely to be taken seriously.

Be able to cite scripture

As well as the more general points thus far addressed, a Godparent should also have pretty decent knowledge of the holy book from which all of this teaching is derived. If a small child doesn’t understand part of a sermon or picks up some more extravagant ideas and teachings, a good knowledge of the scriptures will help you give better advice and direction.

The Christening itself

During a child’s christening, prospective Godparents, along with the parents, will be asked to make a number of promises. The content of these promises is, in Anglican ceremonies, largely the same. The conducting priest will ask two questions:

“Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?”

“Will you care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church?”

To both of these questions, both parents and Godparents must reply: “With the help of God we will.”

The priest will then ask the child questions and it will fall to you to answer them on behalf of the child. These will include renouncing Satan (in modern ceremonies Satan has come to be synonymous with everything bad; as such he may not be referred to by name) and affirming Christ as the child’s Lord and saviour.

If you do not feel comfortable speaking on behalf of the child, then you might wish to discuss this with the priest and the parents before the ceremony takes place. Later in life, many Christians baptised into the religion as children reaffirm these vows at a ceremony known as a confirmation.

It is important that you appreciate the gravity of these promises before you make them. A great many secular couples ask friends to become Godparents, without taking the religion that seriously themselves. It is important that you discuss your role with the parents.

If you do not feel that you will be able to provide the necessary scriptural guidance, or you feel that you simply aren’t the wise, thoughtful person they obviously imagine you to be, then you should probably let them know about it before you make a vow before God.

What do I need to buy?

Like most of those invited, Godparents are in most cases expected to buy gifts for the christening.  The most frequently bought gifts, as one might expect, are bibles and prayer books – though these gifts are often given for their sentimental value more than anything else.

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The Scottish Quaich and its Christening Connections

What is a Quaich?

A Quaich is a large, shallow cup with a long handle (or lug) on either side. It has been used in Scotland for centuries as a symbol of friendship and trust. The precise origins of the quaich are unclear, as it has no obvious antecedents in Europe. One popular theory holds that the vessel is descended from a scallop shell, from which ancient highlanders would drink whisky; another holds that it played an important role in druidic blood sacrifice.

While the origins of the quaich are disputed, most agree that quaich is a uniquely Scottish invention.  It was predominantly used to drink spirits, such as whisky and brandy – though larger forms of the quaich were also used to drink ale.

They were also carried by travellers, since they could be easily hung from a saddle or belt. It could be used to drink from streams, as well as in taverns and inns along the road. Over time, the quaich became a standard means of measurement, with one finger being the rough equivalent of one contemporary dram.

The Quaichs social function

The quaich was a social drinking vessel which came into being during a time when no-one drank out of someone else’s cup. The quaich thereby came to symbolise friendship; one person would present another with the quaich, using both hands – which would render them incapable of holding a secret weapon. In this way trust was fostered between warring clans.

It also became a traditional gift at important gatherings and ceremonies such as weddings and christenings. A newlywed couple might drink from the same quaich in order to indicate that they trusted one another, while at christenings the quaich might be passed between attendees, who would then drink from it to indicate that they were all good friends.

What is a Quaich made from?

Earlier forms of the quaich were made from a variety of materials (including bone) but the most popular was wood, since wood was widely available.  A quaich could either be hewn from a single body of wood, or spun from individual staves. Of the latter sort, the most elaborate were made from many different sorts of wood, in shades both light and dark, which were interwoven in complicated patterns and bound together with withies (strips of willow) or bands of silver if you were rich.

In the centre of the basin usually lay a large coin or medallion, which would seal the area where the wooden strands met. These coins would usually then be engraved with one of any number of different ways: with a coat of arms, a set of initials, a motto, or a toast:  ‘cheers!’

The evolution of the Quaich

Since the quaich was so often offered as a gift at special occasions, there arose a demand for more impressive versions of the vessel. This meant that the skills of those that could make such items became more sought-after. Quaich-makers came to be regarded as artisans and the best Quaichs were regarded as masterpieces; that were prized not only in Scotland, but in England, too.

By the late seventeenth century, the quaich had become a highly sought after item. It had to be altered to suit the needs of aristocracy. Some of the early Quaichs were very large, cumbersome devices – not entirely suitable for a refined lord or lady.

Fortunately, this rise in popularity coincided with the increased availability of lighter materials, such as silver. As quaich-makers began to make use of these materials, their products became progressively better and easy to make.

As a by-product of this, skilled quaich-makers could then use metalworking to create patterns of great complexity and artistic value; and from then on more decorated Quaichs became widely available than ever before. The lugs of the quaich, while functional, are also a source of the vessel’s aesthetic appeal and served as a canvas for elaborate engravings.

Later on came glass-bottomed variants of the quaich, which – in slight contradiction with the Quaichs traditional background – allowed the drinker to keep an eye on their companions, even whilst drinking. Other variants placed two panes of glass at the bottom, so that a keepsake (such as a lock of hair) could be preserved at the bottom of the glass. In 1589, King James of Scotland presented his wife, Anne of Norway, with one such quaich as a wedding gift.

Though wooden Quaichs are still widely available, modern Quaichs are typically made from metal, since this allows for cheaper manufacture; pewter, in particular, is very popular. They remain an ever popular gift at weddings and christenings.

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Whats in a Silver Hallmark?

Whats in a Silver Hallmark?

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Good News …. Good News Bible Returns

After a year’s absence, we now have replacement stock of our Good News Bible. Although the silversmiths have now stopped production of this popular bible, we have acquired all their remaining stock and will be selling this bible at a clearance price whilst stocks last.

This is a very attractive bible with a faux soft leather binding stitched at the edges. The binding is supple, leather-like and very tactile. There is a strip of hallmarked sterling silver on the cover with a plain cross embossed at the base.

The Good News Bible is a modern translation, written in plain, uncomplicated language. The accessibility of the text and simplicity of the contemporary typography make this the perfect bible for children – easy to read and less daunting than the King James version.

This is a bible that encourages daily use and, as a constant companion, is the perfect Christening gift for both boys and girls.

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The Royal Christening

 

Now that the dust has settled following the Christening of Prince George in the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, we can look back on a ceremony that reflects both tradition and informality in equal measure.

William and Kate kept the occasion as simple and low-key as is possible when Christening a future king of Great Britain. They broke with tradition and, as well as holding the ceremony away from Buckingham Palace, they avoided the usual assortment of minor European Royals and unknown aristocracy on the list of godparents and stuck to close friends and family.

The godparents included:

Zara Tindall (Princess Anne’s daughter – William’s cousin)

Emilia Jardine-Paterson (A school friend of Kate)

Oliver Baker (A university friend of both William and Kate)

Julia Samuel (A close friend of Diana, Princess of Wales)

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton (William and Harry’s private secretary)

William van Cutsem (A long term friend of William)

Earl Grosvenor (Heir to the Duke of Westminster)

 

The names given to Prince George at his Christening (George Alexander Louis) carry the weight of both national and family history. The name George has been associated with the crown since 1714. The last George on the throne was George VI, the Queen’s father (Prince George’s Great, Great Grandfather). George VI was actually Christened Albert Frederick Arthur George, but he took his last name for use as Sovereign.

“Alexander” is a less obvious choice, but it might be a tribute to the Queen whose second name is Alexandra. It has been suggested that the name also includes a nod to Scotland where Alexander III is considered, as Sellar & Yeatman would have it, a “Good King”.

“Louis” is a name George shares with his father, William Arthur Phillip Louis, but it was probably more likely that the name was given to recognise the Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle and Prince Charles’s mentor, Lord Louis Mountbatten.

The post-Christening shindig was hosted by Prince George’s grandparents, Prince Charles and Camilla, at their London residence, Clarence House. The four official portraits were taken here in the Morning Room by Jason Bell. One photograph is particularly eye-catching and pretty unique – an image of George, William, Charles & The Queen. Four generations on, or destined for, the throne.

Two other little known facts:

He wasn’t baptised in just any old water. The water in the font at the Chapel Royal came from the River Jordan.

The most unusual Christening gift so far? A wildflower meadow in Transylvania.

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What to Engrave on a Christening Cup

Christening cups, mugs and tankards are very popular Christening gifts for both boys and girls. Here at CHRISTENINGsilver, over 60% of our cups are engraved before dispatch.

We are often asked for advice on what should be engraved on a Christening Cup.

The most common engraving design includes the child’s initials and a date. The date is a bit of a moveable feast – some choose to engrave the date of birth whilst others prefer to mark the date of the Christening. There is no fixed rule here and it comes down to personal preference, although we have engraved a higher proportion of dates that fall in the future, suggesting that these are being chosen in advance of the Christening.

Christening Cup with initials and a date

The next design includes just the Christian name and a date. This is a more intimate design and has become increasingly popular when initials may appear a bit formal.

Christening cup engraving on two lines

Sometimes we are asked to engrave the full name. This is an acceptable variant, but it is important to consider the balance of the design. The first name and surname are usually the most important and you don’t want to dominate the design with the middle names. This is definitely a design to use with care. Always consider which names will appear on which line.

Christening Cup engraving on three lines

Some of our Christening cups are engraved with a name, a location and a date. In this instance the location is usually the place of the Christening and the date is then always the Christening day. It is worth considering the amount of text required when choosing this format, since the more text you need, the smaller (and less legible) it will be since the text will need to be reduced to fit into the available engraving space.

Engraved Christening cup with the Christening location

Finally, it is not uncommon for Grandparents or Godparents to engrave a message on the Christening cup. Once again, consider the space carefully. “With our Love” or “On your Christening” work well, but don’t write a sermon, it won’t look that great and will be hard to read.

If you have any concerns about what to engrave or what it will look like, simply drop us an email with your preferred text and the name (or item code) of the Christening Cup you want engraved and we will email you a proof within 24 hours and advise on alternatives if your initial ideas are unsuitable.

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