With one week to go before my repatriation from Corfu back to Wales, I sat glued to the television in my apartment watching the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The pomp and ceremony made for a stark contrast with my window view of calm blue sea and bright sunshine.
With Wales strongly on my mind I was delighted when the first hymn was Cwm Rhondda, Wales’ (unofficial) second National Anthem, known in English asGuide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah, but more often called Bread of Heaven [Exodus 16:4]. The hymn featured in the 1941 Academy Award winning film, How Green Was My Valley – rumoured to have been centred on the mining village of Gilfach Goch. The title stemmed from the fact that the valley had once been green and beautiful but was then marred by black slag heaps (the byproduct of the coalmining industry piled as high as hillocks). Now though, the mines are long closed and the valley is once again verdant and lovely. And…Gilfach Goch was soon to be my new home! My heart beat a little faster as I sang along:
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.
(I later learnt that the hymn had also been sung at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 which I found poignant.)
I enjoyed the wedding ceremony as it unfolded. Apart from the happy occasion itself I was especially pleased to hear the name of Jesus Christ and the tenants of Christianity spoken to an estimated (record breaking) live audience of some 2 billion souls around the world. The first reading was taken from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans, chapter 12. The words from verse 9 “Let love be genuine” stood out for me. And that seemed to shine from the couple. I lip-read as the newly weds settled themselves into their open-topped carriage on the way back to Buckingham Palace. The bride politely said, “Thank you,” as the bridegroom handed back her bouquet after she had settled her dress. “I’m so happy,” she murmured to him as the carriage moved forwards. Then she asked solicitously, “Are you okay?” The bridegroom grinned broadly and she beamed back at him. It was a sweet moment. I pray that they will have a long and happy life together. [Proverbs 3.5,6]