We celebrate Lydia, the business woman and first convert of Paul in art, poetry and music.

Lydia – Painting by Silvia Dimitrova (2009)

Credit: Lydia – Painting by Silvia Dimitrova (2009)

Acts 16:6-15

They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ 10 When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

11 We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district[a] of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13 On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14 A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15 When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us.

Lydia by Graham Kings

Who is this woman,
Slender in purple,
Approaching the river,
Head demure,
Hands across
Heart secure?

Who are these women,
Accompanying her,
Tumbling, cascading,
Following her gaze,
Slightly perplexed,
Subtly amazed?

Who is this man,
Bearded, intriguing,
Joining the women,
Gorgeous in vesture,
Gently announcing
Greeting in gesture?

By the river of Philippi,
They sat down and met
And sang the songs of Zion,
Outside the gate of the
Greek city, Roman colony.

Lydia, with friends and household,
Dealer in purple, in business astute,
From Thyatira in Asia Minor,
Gentile worshipping God of the Jews.

Paul, with friends, Silas and Luke,
Following a vision of Asia Minor,
Meets a woman of Macedonia,
The Good News comes to Europa.

With hearts open to the cross of Christ,
They pass through the river of baptism,
To enter the joy of the Kingdom.
Like trees planted by the waterside,
They bring forth their fruit in due season.

© Graham Kings, Nourishing Connections (Canterbury Press, 2020).

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Permissions for Churches to show the paintings.
We encourage churches to use the paintings in PowerPoint presentations.
There is no charge for this, but the copyright wording should be:
‘Lydia’ by Silvia Dimitrova, commissioned by Alison and Graham Kings. and 

The poems are published with photos of the paintings in ‘Nourishing Connections’, Canterbury Press, 2020.

The CD of the seven anthems is available here:

A 17-minute Fugue State Films video of the world premiere of Tristan’s anthems at St Stephen, Walbrook, London, 14 June 2023, can be seen here: 

Church Times podcast, featuring the project, with interviews with Silvia, Graham and Tristan, may be heard here: