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Bahrain Dean wins Cyprus and Gulf hymn competition

Posted on: October 24, 2016 10:40 AM
St Christopher’s Cathedral in Bahrain. The Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Revd Chris Butt, wrote the winning hymn in a competition to mark the 40th anniversary of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf.
Photo Credit: Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] A hymn written by the Dean of St Christopher’s Cathedral in Bahrain has been selected as the winner of a hymn competition to mark the 40th anniversary of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. The competition was announced last year by the diocese’s standing committee, who said that “whilst not as auspicious as a fifty-year jubilee, it is nevertheless an achievement to be proud of.”

The hymn will be sung in churches across the diocese next week at All Saints’ tide alongside an anniversary liturgy written by diocesan Bishop Michael Lewis. The liturgy and hymn will “help the diocese to celebrate together as part of our understanding of having a common life,” the standing committee said last year. The diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf is one of four in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

There were 12 entries for the hymn competition, and the jury were unanimous in selecting Lord of the Church, written by the Very Revd Chris Butt, the Dean of St Christopher’s Cathedral in Bahrain. They also selected two further entries as “highly commended”: Our Diocese by the Revd Tim Heaney, Chaplain at Christchurch Jebel Ali, a town to the south-west of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; and Say Salaam, by Rohini Sunderam, also from Bahrain.

All three of the highlighted hymns use words set to existing tunes. Our Diocese is set to Epiphany by Joseph Francis Thrupp – the traditional setting for Reginald Heber’s Brightest and best of the sons of the morning; while Say Salaam is set to the Shaker tune Lord of the dance.

Chris Butt’s winning entry is set to the atmospheric Irish tune Londonderry Air – most well known as the setting for Danny Boy, the haunting ballad by Frederic Weatherly.

“It gives thanks for being led even through the wilderness and prays that the Lord of the future will guide us on our future journey,” the Ven Dr John Holdsworth, the Archdeacon in Cyprus, said.

“It is hoped that the winning hymn might be sung on many occasions, but especially during the last weekend in October when the diocesan thanksgiving is focused."

The Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, Michael Lewis, said: “I have really enjoyed seeing these hymns; which describe vital elements of our life together, and collectively point to the vital sign – the life – of the diocese as we experience it today.

“I am so grateful for all the creative work that has gone into this, and for the work of the judges.”

Lord of the Church
Words: The Very Revd Chris Butt
Tune: Londonderry Air

Lord of the Church, we thank you for your leading
through all the ways we’ve travelled through the years;
For wilderness as well as times of learning;
for times of joy, as well as times of tears.
We come to you, with thankful hearts o’erflowing,
with songs of praise to celebrate our joy;
your faithfulness inspires each generation
to trust your grace afresh for each new day.

We thank you Lord for all the many nations,
that make our Church so rich beyond compare,
for languages that week by week are spoken,
for cultures varied as the dress we wear.
We come to you, rejoicing in our family
of peoples from each corner of the globe,
to have a foretaste of the heavenly banquet
and build a little of your Kingdom here.

Lord of the future, guide us on our journey
through challenges that face us year by year.
Bring peace to nations caught in human conflict
and light, where darkness causes so much fear.
We come to you with hopes already kindled,
a vision of the future full of peace,
where lion and lamb will walk the path together
and children, safe from fear, when wars have ceased.

  • You can read the words to the highly commended entries, Our Diocese and Say Salaam on the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf’s website.