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The International Anthem

When Kiwi Nick Afoa stood up to sing the national anthem at the last Rugby Bledisloe Cup on August fifteenth, fifty thousand kiwis stood with him, along with fifty million goose bumps. What a song! What a voice! Such passion! I for one, at that moment, was suffering a bout of anthem-envy. Was there ever a better anthem sung?

I can only think of one. Sung by an old widow. And not before rugby match, but in the Temple and in front of only a handful of people. Anna was her name, and she appears in the Book at the point when Mary and Joseph and their baby enter the Temple. The favoured couple and their child are first met by an old man Simeon to whom a promise had been made. And after he made his speech, Anna appears, and says the Book, ‘gave thanks’ to God (Luke 2:38). Methinks that ‘gave thanks’ may be a little too tame to capture what happened at that moment. The word is actually anthomo-logeito, literally, an anthem-like word. In other words, the lady, with heaving bust and beating heart, sang an anthem to God. So excited was she that the ancient Promise had been kept, and that God’s Messiah had arrived in the world.

Perhaps only fifty people on that day in the Temple stood to witness her song, but I suspect that in heaven, myriad angels stood with her, with hand on heart, along with fifty myriad goose bumps more.

DM 8th Sep 2015


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