Reformation 500: Great hymn singing marks a great occasion

By James Campbell

Christians of many denominations showed that when it comes to singing no nation can beat the Welsh!

And in St David’s Metropolitan Cathedral on Tuesday 31 October they celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the role of Martin Luther by singing the great Welsh hymn Calon Lan, with such volume and sincerity of faith that I thought the roof of the cathedral would be blown off.

What an occasion it was with all Christians under the banner of Cytun, the organisation which unites in pilgrimage those churches in Wales which, acknowledging God’s revelation in Christ, brought the churches together in communion.

In his welcome, Archbishop George Stack said: “This Quincentenary commemoration, and the events relating to it, have given us a marvellous opportunity to see a more complete picture of this man, not just to theology, and to the religious life of Europe and beyond, but also, according to some writers, one who laid the foundations of a a view of the world which remains to this very day.”

The Archbishop of Wales John D.E. Davies, said: “We come with different thoughts and feelings of thanksgiving and lament, joy and repentance, joy in the Gospel and sorrow for division.”

Mr Reinallt Thomas, Moderator of the Free Church Council in Wales. Added: “Today we rejoice in the gifts that have come to the Church through the Reformation, to repent for dividing walls that we, and our forebears, have built, and to commit to work together in common witness and the service of Jesus Christ in the world.”

Common witness indeed when we look at the Christian denominations represented in the Cathedral:

  • The Catholic Church
  • The Church in Wales
  • The Baptist Union of Wales
  • South Wales Baptist Association
  • The Methodist Church
  • The German-Speaking Lutheran Church
  • The Salvation Army
  • The United Reformed Church
  • The Union of Welsh Independents
  • The Congregational Federation
  • The Presbyterian Church of Wales
  • The Indian Orthodox Church
  • The Church of Pentecost – UK
  • Society of Friends

Also represented were many other organisations working on social and help themes.

Archbishop George added: “At the beginning of this centenary year at the World Lutheran Federal Ecumenical Prayer Service at Lund, in Sweden, Pope Francis said: 

‘Now we have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another.’

 Archbishop George ended his address by referring to the hymn written by Martin Rinkhart, the pastor in the town of Eilenberg at the beginning of the 30 years war when both the war and the plague which ensued caused him to bury 4,500 people during his time in that parish. The Archbishop added: “We shall hear it today, sung in German by our own choir”

Now thank we all our God

With heart and hands and voices

Who wondrous things hath done

In whom our world rejoices

Who from our mother’s arms

Hath blessed us on our way

With countless gits of love

And still is ours today.

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