An enthusiastic congregation gathered on AAW Sunday to enjoy a good sing-along, led by our Choir, and to hear AAW women introduce their favourite hymns.

Madeleine Price wove an interesting story about a recent Epiphany hymn, “Arise, shine out, your light has come”, linking it with our rebuilding “City that shines” and with 2 poems by Christchurch poet and academic, Arnold Wall. 

Arise, shine out, your light has come,

unfolding City of our dreams.

On distant hills a glory gleams:

the new creation has begun.

2. Above earth’s valleys, thick with night,

high on your walls the dawn appears,

and history shall dry its tears,

as nations stream towards your light.

3. From walls surpassing time and space,

unnumbered gates, like open hands,

shall gather gifts from all the lands,

and welcome all the human race.

4. The sounds of violence shall cease

as dwellings of salvation rise

to sparkle in eternal skies

from avenues of praise and peace.

5. The dancing air shall glow with light

and sun and moon give up their place

when Love shines out of ev’ry face :

our Good, our Glory, our Delight.

Words: Brian Wren (b.1936), based on Isaiah 60

Tune: CHURCH TRIUMPHANT – J W Elliott (1833-1915)

We sang “Arise, shine out, your light has come” to the tune Church Triumphant at a service at the beginning of January this year.

This hymn immediately conjured vivid images and memories of our city: our city logo, our recovery from the terrible earthquakes, the trauma of the massacres, and some poetry written about our city nearly 100 years ago.

Our city logo is so inspiring. Symbolic and iconic. The sky, the rivers, the plains, and our cathedral central to the image. The logo shines and gleams. I understand why so many people want the cathedral restored. What would this shining logo be without the cathedral central to it?

The hymn reminded me of the terrible events our city has recently experienced, especially the terrible earthquakes and the mosque massacres. 

Nations around the world came to support our recovery post-quake. Indeed, “our city gleams, the new creation has begun”. We are a resilient people. We have achieved so much to recreate our city. The massacres have encouraged us to embrace our diverse community, break down the walls and strengthen cultural cohesion.

The hymn recalled for me some lovely poems written by Arnold Wall, when our city was still very young. Some of you may remember him. He arrived from England in 1898 to take up a position as Professor of English at the then Canterbury University College Over his long lifetime he became very well known. Among his many interests and activities, he also wrote poetry. He wrote two short poems about early Christchurch in its formative years. I believe the verses still stand true today – ‘’unfolding city of our dreams’’.

The City from the Hills – Arnold Wall (1869-1966)

There lies our city folded in the mist

Like a great meadow in an early morn

Flinging her spears of grass up through white films,

Each with its thousand thousand-tinted globes.

Above us such an air as poets dream,

The clean and vast wing-winnowed clime of Heaven.

Each of her streets is closed with shining Alps,

Like Heaven at the end of long plain lives.

The City in the Plains – Arnold Wall (1869-1966)

In a silvern afternoon we saw the city sleeping,

Sleeping and rustling a little under the brindled hills.

Spectres of Alps behind, Alps behind and beyond,

Tall, naked, and blue.

The city sleeps in the plain –

a flight of glittering scales flung in a wanton curve,

Sinking softly to earth flung from a Titan’s palm.

In the silver afternoon all round the shining city,

A thousand thousand sheaves loll in the golden plain;

On goes the stately wain,

The dun hind striding by it,

Beside the elms and willows,

Between the Alps and the sea.

By Jenny Wilkens