I am a great fan of Welsh male voice choirs, which is how I came to be in Swansea last Saturday (20 February 2016). The Morriston Orpheus Choir were part of an evening to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Swansea blitz, which was held in St Mary’s Church in the centre of Swansea. Seventy-five years ago German bombers spent three nights targeting Swansea. Only the walls of St Mary’s remained after the bombing, but the people of Swansea did not allow the church to be demolished. Reconstruction began in 1954 and St Mary’s Church was reconsecrated in May 1959.
St Mary’s was a very full church last Saturday evening. Before the programme for the evening began those present were reminded that the church would also be open for worship on the Sunday morning. I wondered how many of the concert attendees would return the next morning, or be worshipping somewhere else. I also wondered if any of the hymns sung so beautifully in Welsh and English had challenged those who were there.
Immediately before the interval the choir sang Dros Gymru’n Gwlad (For Wales our Country). This hymn is also known as Gweddi dros Gymru (A Prayer for Wales). The words, which were written by Reverend Lewis Valentine, are extremely challenging:
For Wales our land O Father hear our prayer,
This blessed vineyard granted to our care;
May you protect her always faithfully,
And prosper here all truth and purity;
For your Son’s sake who bought us with His blood,
O make our Wales in your own image Lord.
O come the day when o’er our barren land
Reviving winds blow sent from God’s own hand,
As grace pours down on parched and arid sand
We will bear fruit for Christ by his command,
Come with one voice and gentle vigour sing
The virtues of our gentle Lamb and King
It is the second line of the first verse that has been challenging me this week: ‘This blessed vineyard granted to our care.’ People of God around the world should be similarly challenged. God has entrusted His vineyard to our care. How would we answer Him if tomorrow He asked how we were doing with His vineyard?
I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. (Proverbs 24:30-34 NLT)