Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 66 (March 1969)
– 24 –

Palm Sunday, Rarotonga

Honda-fresh in the morning coolness
Of this house of God I sit
Bathed in the brown flow
Of a language I partly comprehend.

The single voice is a servant.
Whose words wash my heart.

Lapped in the lilting syncopation
Of an a cappella congregation
I hear (Schola Cantorum trained)
Splendid, remote, barbaric,
Kodaly in the women's fifths,
Below them, in thirds, Charles Ives
In the men's exultant throats.

My neighbour shares his hymnbook
And we praise God in Maori
Sudden, I remember my friend,
Now gone to rejoin his ancestors:
Cramped in the small studio
One proud papaa
In a Maori church choir.

The sermon begins in John.

I remember our Chinese priest:
Service in Cantonese, epistola
In Iban. I think of the oneness
Of life in the longhouse
And Sarawak calls me again.

And then I think that the island
Itself is a great longhouse:
One roof, and many families.

The sermon knits to a close;
The many strands of faith
Gather in the final hymn.

The blessing, a blush of peace,
A beating of white tern's wings,
Falls, amene, on our hearts.

Martin Wilson