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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Resources for Commemorating the Centenary of First World War

Canon Meurig Williams, the Bishop’s Chaplain, has compiled a collection of resources which our Churches in Europe may find useful for commemorating WW1. He has drawn from material proposed by the Church of England and helpfully supplemented with his own suggestions.

He points to two websites that are particularly helpful: (Churches Together in Britain and Ireland) (The Liturgical Commission of the Church England)

We thank Canon Williams for this resource.

This is a very large post. For convenience, it is also in a separate page tab under the Eurobishop header photo.

Joshua 1.1–9
2 Chronicles 20.1–9
Isaiah 2.1–5
Isaiah 49.13–19
Isaiah 51. 1-6
Isaiah 55.6–end
Daniel 4.1–3
Amos 1.9–12

Psalm 23
Psalm 42
Psalm 46
Psalm 55
Psalm 62
Psalm 72
Psalm 82
Psalm 85
Psalm 90
Psalm 91
Psalm 133
Psalm 137
Psalm 143

Ecclesiasticus 44. 1-15 (mindful of the large numbers of young, promising artists, musicians, poets, scientists and the like who were killed in the conflict and never lived to fulfil their potential)

Romans 8.31–end
Romans 12.15–end
2 Corinthians 5.1–10, 14–end
1Timothy 2.1–7
Ephesians 6.10–17
James 3.13–end
1 John 3.11–18
Revelation 21.1–8

Mark 13.3–8
Matthew 5.21–24

NON–BIBLICAL READINGS: Appropriate readings may be found in the following novels and anthologies of poetry:

Pat Barker Regeneration
Pat Barker The Eye in the Door
Pat Barker The Ghost Road
Pat Barker Life Class
Pat Barker Toby’s Room
Edmund Blunden Undertones of War
Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road
Vera Brittain Testament of Youth
Jacqueline Dinan  A Woman’s War
Sebastian Faulks Birdsong
Robert Graves Goodbye to All That
Ivor Gurney Severn & Somme and War's Embers, ed. R.K.R. Thornton. Carcanet Press, 1997.
Susan Hill Strange Meeting
D.H. Lawrence England, My England
Wilfred Owen The Complete Poems and Fragments, ed. Jon Stallworthy
Erich Maria Remarque All Quiet on the Western Front
Siegfried Sassoon Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man
Siegfried Sassoon Memoirs of an Infantry Officer
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, August 1914
1914 Poetry Remembers, edited by Carol Ann Duffy
Poetry of the First World War, edited by Tim Kendall
Poetry of the World Wars, edited by Michael Foss
First World War Poems, chosen by Andrew Motion
Scars Upon My Heart: women’s poetry and verse of the first world war, selected by Catherine Reilly
The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell gives a critical overview of much of the contemporary literary responses to the conflict.

PRAYERS: A selection of set prayers

Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
[Collect for the 3rd Sunday before 
Advent, Common Worship]  
O God of the nations,
as we look to that day when you will gather people
from north and south, east and west,
into the unity of your peaceable Kingdom,
guide with your just and gentle wisdom all who take counsel
for the nations of the world,
that all your people may spend their days in security, freedom, and peace,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

God our Creator,
we fail to seek your justice,
and swerve from the way of your righteousness:
look with compassion upon those facing danger, disaster, and devastation.
Guide us all along the path of life, and make us valiant for truth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eternal God,
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all, the true love of peace
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[CW Daily Prayer]

Heavenly Father,
who called your Church to witness
that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself:
help us to bring trust where there is fear,
understanding where there is prejudice,
and hope where there is despair,
that the world may know the power of
your reconciling love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A responsorial prayer of commemoration

Remember, Lord, those whose stories were unspoken and untold.
All Jesus, remember them when you come into your kingdom.
Remember, Lord, those whose minds were darkened and disturbed by memories of war.
All Jesus, remember them when you come into your kingdom
Remember, Lord, those who suffered in silence, and those whose bodies were disfigured by injury and pain.
All Jesus, remember them when you come into your kingdom.
Father of all, remember your mercy, and look with your healing love on all your people, living and departed. On this day we especially ask that you would hold for ever all who suffered during the First World War, those who returned scarred by warfare, those who waited anxiously at home, and those who returned wounded, and disillusioned; those who mourned, and those communities that were diminished and suffered loss. Remember too those who acted with kindly compassion, those who bravely risked their own lives for their comrades, and those who in the aftermath of war, worked tirelessly for a more peaceful world. And as you remember them, remember us, O Lord; grant us peace in our time and a longing for the day when people of every language, race, and nation will be brought into the unity of Christ’s kingdom. This we ask in the name of the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  

A Litany of Remembrance

God the Father,
have mercy upon us.
God the Son,
have mercy upon us.
God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy upon us.
Holy and blessed Trinity,
have mercy upon us.

From all fear and prejudice, bitterness, and all hardness of heart,
good Lord, deliver us.
From all spite, revenge, and destructive anger,
good Lord, deliver us.
From the desire to dominate others, to impose our will, and from all feelings of superiority,
good Lord, deliver us.
Open our hearts towards our neighbour, and help us to work together for the common good.
Lord, hear us and help us.
Strengthen us to stand for all that is just and true and right.
Lord, hear us and help us.
Grant that we may come to understand our enemies,
Lord, hear us and help us.
Bring release to those with abiding memories of hurt and injury
Lord, hear us and help us.
Lord grant us the grace to receive forgiveness, and to forgive as we are forgiven.
Lord, hear us and help us.
Comfort all those who mourn, the troubled, and all who call upon you in their distress.
Lord, hear us and help us.
Guide the leaders of the nations and those who work for peace, and make us all subject to Christ’s just and gentle rule.
Lord, hear us and help us.

Holy God,
holy and strong,
holy and immortal,
have mercy upon us.

O Lord, our maker and our strength,
from whose love in Christ we can never be parted
either by death or life:
Look in mercy on those for whom we pray this day,
and grant us your protection and peace,
that we may be saved in body and soul,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

As we ask for deliverance from the forces of destruction, so we pray in the words that Jesus gave us:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
for thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.   Amen.

Coventry Litany of Reconciliation

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father, forgive.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Father, forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Father, forgive.
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
Father, forgive.
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
Father, forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Father, forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Further Prayers can be found in Common Worship Pastoral Services (2000):

Gathering Prayers, No 6 (p.347), No 7, (p348)
Prayers of Penitence, No 8 p.348–349, No 48, (p361)
Prayers of Thanksgiving for the Departed, No 18 (p351) No 24 (p353)
Prayers for those who mourn, No 35, No 38 (p357)
Prayers to live in the light of the Resurrection, Nos 51–53, 56, 57, 59, 60, (pp362–364)

God of might and valour, your grace is all we need.
In our weakness give us strength:
support us in temptation; make us bold in time of danger;
give us fresh vigour when we lose heart;
and help us to do your work with a good courage,
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God of light and love,
in your tender compassion you sent your Son
to shine on those who sit in darkness
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Grant us, in our doubts and uncertainties,
the grace to ask what you would have us do.
By your Spirit of wisdom, save us from false choices.
And since it is by your light that we are enlightened,
lead us and protect us, and give us a straight path to follow,
that we may neither stumble nor fall;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

God of all nations, your love is without limit and without end.
Enlarge our vision of your redeeming purpose for all people.
By the example of your Son, make us ready to serve the needs
of the whole world.
May neither pride of race nor hardness of heart
make us despise any for whom Christ died
or injure any in whom he lives;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord God, Sovereign over all,
bring in the day of the splendour of your kingdom
and draw the whole world
into willing obedience to your reign.
Cast out the evil things that cause war,
and send your Spirit to rule the hearts of people
in righteousness and love.
Repair the desolations of many generations,
that the wilderness may rejoice,
and the city be made glad with your law.
Confirm every work that is founded on truth,
and fulfil the desires and hopes of your people,
through the victory of Christ our Lord.

Adapted from Common Order
(Church of Scotland)


All my hope on God is founded (NEH 333)
Almighty Father, who for us thy Son didst give (R&S 621 – can also be sung to tune of Dutch National Anthem A&M: H&S 816 ii)
And did those feet in ancient time (NEH 488, A&M: H&S 576)
By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered (A&M: H&S 605)
Eternal God, before whose face we stand (A&M: H&S 577)
Eternal ruler of the ceaseless round (NEH 355)
Extol the God of Justice (A&M: H&S 558)
For earth’s fragile beauties (NEP 648, A&M: H&S 526)
For the Healing of the Nations (A&M: H&S 635)
Forth in the peace of Christ we go (NEH 361)
God is Love: let heav’n adore him (NEH 364, A&M: H&S 644)

An alternative to ‘O valiant hearts’ to the tune ‘Supreme Sacrifice’:

God, as with silent hearts we bring to mind
how hate and war diminish humankind,
we pause, and seek in worship to increase
our knowledge of the things that make for peace.

Hallow our will as humbly we recall
the lives of those who gave and give their all.
We thank you, Lord, for women, children, men
who seek to serve in love, today as then.

Give us deep faith to comfort those who mourn,
high hope to share with all the newly born,
strong love in our pursuit of human worth:
"lest we forget" the future of this earth.

So, Prince of Peace, disarm our trust in power,
teach us to coax the plant of peace to flower.
May we, impassioned by your living Word,
remember forward to a world restored.
(Fred Kaan 1929-2009)

How shall we sing salvation’s song (A&M: H&S 561)
In a world where people walk in darkness (A&M: H&S 677)
I vow to thee my country (NEP 620, A&M: H&S 579 )
It came upon the midnight clear (NEH 29, A&M: H&S 70)
Jesus Lives! Thy terrors now (NEH 112, A&M: H&S 207)
Jesus, Son of Mary (NEH 329, vss.2–4)
Judge eternal, throned in splendour (NEH 490, A&M: H&S 580)
Lord for the years (A&M: H&S 715)
Make me a channel of your peace (A&M: H&S 725)
O Christ the Lord, O Christ the King (NEH 496)
O God of earth and altar (NEH 492, A&M: H&S 582)
O God, our help in ages past (NEH 417, A&M: H&S 746)
O Lord, all the world belongs to you (HO&N 509)
Out of our failure to create a world of love and care (R&S 88)
Pray that Jerusalem may have (NEH 441)
Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin (A&M: H&S 764)
The kingdom of God (CP 591)
Thy Kingdom come, O God (NEH 499, A&M: H&S 816)
To mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love (NEH 469)
We turn to you, O God of every nation (HO&N 725)
What shall we pray for those who died John Bell (Singing the Faith 721)

NEH = New English Hymnal A&M: H&S = Ancient and Modern: Hymns and Songs
NEP = New English Praise CP = Common Praise
HO&N = Hymns Old and New: Complete Anglican Edition
R&S= Rejoice and Sing (OUP/United Reformed Church 1991)

Here is a selection of music which was either written during the First World War or is evocative of that period:

Song settings
Song settings by W Denis Browne (1888–1915)
Song settings by George Butterworth (1885–1916)
Song settings by Ernest Farrar (1885–1918)
Song settings by Gerald Finzi (1901–1956)
Song settings by Ivor Gurney (1890–1937)
Song settings by Frederic Kelly (1881–1916)

An anthology of songs by these composers is available on the Hyperion recording WAR EMBERS CDD22026

Cyril Rootham (1875–1938):
Song settings of texts by Siegfried Sassoon (1919–21)

NB: Many of the songs which seem particularly resonant of World War I set poems from A Shropshire Lad by A E Housman (1859–1936). These poems, published in 1896, acquired new popularity during the Second Boer War (1899–1902) and then again during World War I. However, many of the musical settings were made before the outbreak of the war. In addition to those included on the Hyperion recording (see above) these include:

Arthur Somervell (1863–1937):
A Shropshire Lad (Housman setting 1904 – the first known musical setting)

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958):
On Wenlock Edge (Housman setting 1909)

Orchestral and Chamber Music
George Butterworth (1885–1916):
Two English Idylls (1911)
Rhapsody: A Shropshire Lad (1912)
The Banks of Green Willow (1913)

Edward Elgar (1857–1934):
Sospiri (1914)
Violin Sonata (1917)
String Quartet (1917)
Piano Quintet (1919)
Cello Concerto (1919)

Gerald Finzi (1901–1956)
A Severn Rhapsody (1923)
Requiem da Camera (settings of poems by Hardy, Masefield & Gibson)

Gustav Holst (1874–1934)
The Planets (1914–16)

Herbert Howells (1892-1983):
Elegy (1916) for viola & orchestra – in memory of peers from the Royal College of Music who died in the trenches
Piano Quartet in A minor (1916 – dedicated to Ivor Gurney)
Three Psalm Preludes (first set – 1917/18) organ pieces which evoke verses from the Psalms associated with conflict & peace (Psalms 34.6;  37.11; 23.4)
Rhapsody No 3 in C#minor (1918) organ work written in York during a Zeppelin raid in March 1918

John Ireland (1879–1962):
Trio in D minor for clarinet, cello and piano (1912–1914)
Sonata No. 2  in A minor for violin and piano (1915–1917)
Trio No. 2 in One Movement for violin, cello and piano (1917)
Ernest Moeran (1894–1950)
First Rhapsody (1922)

Cyril Rootham (1875–1938):
String Quartet in C (1914)

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958):
A Lark Ascending (written 1914, just before the outbreak of the war)
A Pastoral Symphony (performed 1922 but created out of the composer’s wartime experiences)

Choral works, anthems and church music
Edward Elgar (1857–1934):
Fear not, O Land (1914)
Give unto the Lord (1914)
The Spirit of England (1917)

Herbert Howells (1892–1983):
Even such is time (1914)
Here is the Little Door, A Spotless Rose and Sing Lullaby (1918)
Nunc Dimittis (1914)
Evening Service in G (1918)

Gustav Holst (1874–1934)
A Dirge for Two Veterans for male voices, brass and percussion (1914)
Nunc dimittis  (1915)
Turn back, O man (1916)
Let all mortal flesh keep silence  (1916)
This have I done for my true love (1916)
The Hymn of Jesus (1917)

John Ireland (1879–1962):
Greater love (1912)

Hubert Parry (1848–1918):
Songs of Farewell (1916–18)

Cyril Rootham (1875–1938):
For the fallen for chorus and orchestra (1915)

Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Lord, thou hast been our refuge (1921)
Mass in G minor (performed 1922)
Justorum animae (1919)

William Walton (1902–83):
A Litany (Drop, drop slow tears) (1916)

Healey Willan (1880–1968):
O how they so softly rest (1917)

More recent settings of relevant texts

David Bednall (b.1979):
Everyone sang  - a vigorous setting of Sassoon’s great poem expressing relief at the end of WWI

Mark Blatchly (b. 1962):
For the Fallen – a setting of Binyon’s poem for the Choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral to sing at the Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall

Jonathan Dove (b. 1959):
Into thy hands, O Lord and Father  - a serene anthem of commendation setting Edmund of Abingdon’s prayer for protection from danger

Douglas Guest (1916-1996):
For the Fallen – a short but evocative setting of Binyon’s poem

Geraint Lewis (b. 1958):
The souls of the righteous – a warm and lyrical setting by a contemporary Welsh composer.

John Madden (b. 1956):
We will remember them

Max Beckmann, Der Kriegsausbruch 1914
Max Beckmann The Descent from the Cross, 1917
Muirhead Bone Battle of the Somme (1916)
Muirhead Bone The Great Crater, 1917
Gisbert Combat  Scenes of the German destruction of Louvain,
August 1914 (see
Otto Dix The War Cycle, 1924,
Otto Dix Stormtroopers advancing under gas, 1925
Jacob Epstein Risen Christ, begun in 1917
Charles de Groux, The Assault, Verdun, 1918
Henri de Groux large number of lithographs of the impact of the conflict in Belgium (British Library website)
Charles Sargeant Jagger The First Battle of Ypres, 1918
Charles Sargeant Jagger The Kelham Rood, 1929
David Jones Jesus Mocked, 1922/23
Eric Kennington, Gassed and Wounded 1918
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Potsdamer Platz, 1914
Paul Klee Der Grosse Kaiser, 1920
Henry Lamb Advance Dressing Station on the Struma, 1916, 1920
John Lavery A Convoy, North Sea, 1918
Percy Wyndham Lewis A Battery Shelled, 1919
Edwin Lutyens Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, 1927–32
Ludwig Meidner, Apocalyptic Landscape 1914
Paul Nash Chaos Decoratif, 1917
Paul Nash Wire, 1918
Paul Nash The Void, 1918
Paul Nash The Mule Track, 1918
Richard Nevinson  La Mitrailleuse, 1916
Richard Nevinson, Paths of Glory, 1917
William Orpen, Dead Germans in a Trench 1918
Felix Schwormstädt, Zeppelin L38 Attacking England 1916
Stanley Spencer Travoys Arriving with Wounded at a Dressing Station at Smol, September 1916, 1918
Stanley Spencer The Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere, 1927–32
Gilbert Spencer The Crucifixion, 1915
Henry Tonks An Advanced Dressing Station, 1918

These images and works of art are easily found on the internet. Details of war artists and illustrations of their work can be found on the website of the Imperial War Museum at


Westminster Abbey has an order of service for a Vigil on the Centenary of the outbreak of WWI:

and some suggested resources:

The Church of England Liturgical Commission has a set of Propers for a commemoration in the context of the Eucharist:

A service at a War Memorial:

A Vigil Service:

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland are publishing We Shall Remember by Keith Clements (biblical reflections and prayers by this leading Bonhoeffer scholar) and Beyond our Tears compiled by Jean Mayland (a resource book of hymns, prayers, poems and reflections drawing on the experience of those who have known tragedy) see

The Joint Liturgical Group ( will publish Out of the Depths which explores how churches can effectively respond to tragedy and conflict.

The Bible Society ( has a booklet Hear my Cry (which can be given away by churches) which includes poems, prayers and reflections on conflict.

The Church of England’s Cathedrals’ Liturgy and Music Group have produced Disaster and Bereavement Liturgies by Charles Taylor which contains a pastoral and theological introduction, resources and worked-out orders of service, which offers ideas and material for those wishing to put their own orders of service together. See

Nigel Biggar  Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice After Conflict (GUP)

Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier Living Gently in a Violent World (IVP)

Ed. Lee Marsden The Ashgate Research Companion to Religion and Conflict Resolution (combines religious teachings on conflict resolution from the great religions, case studies from around the world, examinations of fundamentalism, peace building, gender, pacifism and religious freedom, together with profiles of key personalities)

Jonathan Sacks To Heal a Fractured World (Bloomsbury/Continuum)

Megan Shore Religion & Conflict Resolution (Ashgate)

Alan Wilkinson The Church of England and the First World War (Lutterworth)

Rowan Williams, The Truce of God; Peacemaking in Troubled Times (Fount/Erdmans)

The Mainz Ecumenical Assembly has issued a response to the WCC’s call for a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace in 2014 which can be accessed (in German only) at

For worship in schools and with young people, there is a wide selection of resource material (for primary and secondary ages) at

The Church of England has a dedicated website at
which provides liturgical resources, events ideas, stories, historical and theological reflections.


August 4, 2014 (the centenary of the day the war started)
Gallipoli (25th April 2015)
The Battles of Jutland (31st May-1st June 2016)
July 1, 2016 (100 years after the Battle of the Somme)
Passchendaele (31st July – 6th November 2017)
November 11, 2018 (the day the war finished).

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