New Zealand Archbishop leads Anzac Dawn Service in London
[ANGLICAN TAONGA] The standing-room only Anzac Day services in London had silence, sounds and symbols that remembered war but which also urged peacemaking and reconciliation.
The city of London first honoured the Anzacs at Westminster Abbey one year after the 25 April 1915 landing at Gallipoli, in the presence of George V.
Now, one hundred years on from that fateful landing, the same honour was bestowed again – as it has been every 25 April since 1916.
This time, the centennial observance of the landings, there was emphasis on the honour that comes not only through sacrifice, but also in reconciliation.
And there was an unmistakable contribution to the London Anzac commemoration from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Archbishop Sir David Moxon (who is now the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome) led the Hyde Park Dawn Service.
He later described that was a “once in a lifetime experience” because the significance of the occasion – both to the nations involved and to the wider world – has only increased in the years since Gallipoli.
The hush that fell
The fact that thousands began filing into Hyde Park from 3am to attend the dawn service at Wellington Arch bore out Archbishop Moxon’s words.
Just before the service began a hush fell on the park in a city not known for being silent. The dawn service was also attended by Anne, the Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, as well as by Australia and New Zealand Defence representatives.
New Zealand High Commissioner Lockwood Smith told the Hyde Park crowd that the events of Anzac Cove had touched all families in Australia and New Zealand, including his own, and brought about a new national consciousness in both countries.
“Can’t do was not part of (our soldiers’) language,” he said, “and their heroic deeds showed what courage, commitment and comradeship were. They were the flower of the youth of our new nations.”
Following the dawn service Ngati Ranana, the London Maori Club, sang waiata and Bishop Kito Pikaahu responded to them at the New Zealand Memorial.
Later in the morning, Ngati Ranana sent a tingle through New Zealanders present in Westminster Abbey as they sang Whakaaria Mai .
And theirs wasn’t the only distinctly New Zealand sound about the abbey observation.
The melody and motif of God Defend New Zealand could be heard as the Abbey’s Organ Scholar, Jeremy Woodside of Christchurch, who had been both an organist and chorister in the ChristChurch Cathedral, played Kiwi Fireworks:‘Variations on God Defend New Zealand’ by Paul Spicer.
The Westminster Abbey service was attended by the Queen and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The reconciliation theme came through most strongly as the flags of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Turkey were processed together into the Abbey and placed at the high altar.
Bishop Kito Pikaahu, representing New Zealand, prayed that the centenary would be a memorial of the coming of age of our nations, and a reminder of the roles New Zealand and Australia have as world and Commonwealth citizens.
A Turkish-language Muslim prayer was then said, and the sounds and symbols of enemies had become sounds and symbols of peace-seekers.
Bishop Kito Pikaahu said the service was symbolic, steeped in tradition and beautiful, with a focus on reconciliation rather than the mistakes of the past.
The silences, sounds and symbols filled the day with honour, as we remembered the past, but also held hope for the future.
The hundredth Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing during World War One, celebrated not only in Australia and New Zealand, but also in London; featured two New Zealand Anglican bishops – Archbishop Sir David Moxon (Anglican Representative at the Holy See in Rome) who led the Dawn Service in Hyde Park, and Bishop Kito Pikaahu, who responded to the Maori Waiata at the Maori Memorial.
Closer to home for us at St.Michael & All Angels, Christchurch, was the fact that the following Service of Commemoration at Westminster Abbey, attended by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and other Commonwealth dignitaries; featured the N.Z. Organist, Jeremy Woodside – Organ Scholar at the Abbey (formerly Deputy organist at SMAA, Christchurch) – who played ‘Kiwi Fireworks: Variations on God Defend New Zealand’ by Paul Spicer.
We always though ‘our Jeremy’ would make it to the highest echelon in the world of organ music. This is only one of his recent overseas musical triumphs.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand