Gestures of goodwill, like a candle, lit in a darkened Cathedral. That light will consume the darkness, that hope is something onto which we must hold tight at this moment in particular.
The message that we send to those in Ukraine is so important. In our Senior School Ash Wednesday Service, held this week in Worcester Cathedral, we listened to a piece of music, sung by our Chamber Choir, called Shchedryk; it was written in 1916 by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych.
Many people will recognise this song, perhaps as one they hear during the Christmas festivities. The song was originally a folk song to herald the coming of spring. It tells of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim the plentiful year that the family will enjoy. The song’s title is derived from the Ukrainian word “shchedryj,” which means “bountiful.” Very few people realise that Shchedryk was composed and performed during a previous time of intense political struggle and social upheaval in Ukraine.
After the service, the song was shared with every secondary school in Kiev, as a message of hope, love and goodwill from our community to people who are like us all, consumed with dreams and hopes.
During our Assembly King’s Chaplain, Dr Mark Dorsett, addressed the school about what we should be giving up at this time of year, encouraging the pupils to forget about avoiding chocolate, crisps and all of that. He encouraged them instead to think more about the political landscape and the impact of what is going on around us in the world, to stop being complacent and morally idle and remember that the world is full of ordinary people like ourselves, making a difference, demanding change, standing up for democracy and freedom. We all have that collective responsibility as free citizens in a liberal democracy and that is a massive privilege that we shouldn’t ignore but defend in the right way for ourselves and for others.