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The Revd Peter Webb (1940–2022)

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11th March 2022

The dreadful happenings in Ukraine have brought to mind a wonderful evening Pauline and I spent at the Opera House in Odessa (the city on the Ukrainian Black Sea coast) a few years ago. There we attended a performance of the opera Prince Igor by the Russian composer Alexander Borodin. The opera includes the well-known Polovtsian Dances. As with most operas, the storyline appears to be little more than an excuse for the music and, in this case, the dances, which make it so memorable.

The story is of this medieval Grand Prince of Kiev who came to rule over the ‘Rus’ which, at its height, included Muscovy – the principality which included the city of Moscow. All of which goes to show how topsy-turvy is the so-called history by which Vladimir Putin seeks to justify his invasion of Ukraine!

What a contrast we have here between two Russians, Borodin and Putin. Borodin, in common with so many composers, artists and poets, is using his God-given gifts creatively. And, yes, those gifts are God-given, how could they be otherwise? Whereas Putin, in common, sadly, with so many before him uses his skills to enhance what he sees as his own glory. In much smaller ways that is the temptation to all of us – but our prayer must be that we can find ways to use whatever God-given gifts we may have for the good of our fellow humans and, especially, for the glory of God.

David T Roberts