Thinking allowed

Marking the centenary of the start of the First World War

The Church of England has produced a set of Liturgical Resources for use at services commemorating the anniversary of World War One. They are available here as part of a section of the website dedicated to the commemoration.

  • Readings, Prayers, Hymns, Art and Music:
    Word / PDF
  • An outline for a service around a First World War memorial:
    Word / PDF
  • Propers for a Requiem Eucharist:
    Word / PDF
  • Vigil Service for either 3 or 4 August, 2014:
    Word / PDF

A candle-lit vigil of prayer and an act of solemn reflection to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War will be held in Westminster Abbey on 4 August 2014. The service is one of a number of events being announced by the Government to mark the centenary of the Great War. Drawing upon Sir Edward Grey’s famous remark that “the lights are going out all over Europe”, the Abbey will mark the centenary by moving from light into darkness, until one candle remains at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, which will be extinguished at 11.00pm to mark the moment at which Britain entered the war.

Westminster Abbey has now published the Order of Service for the Vigil Service. It can be found as a pdf file on this page. You can access the pdf directly here


  • John Wallace says:

    Am I alone in thinking all this is totally wrong? We should be holding services of penitence as we look around the world today and see that the events in Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine all are the result of the carve -up of defeated empires by the ‘victorious’ allies. What makes me even more angry is that I find myself in agreement with the Daily Mail with its analysis. The Church is being dragooned into supporting a Cameron inspired chauvinism which conflicts with the faithful witness to the Gospel. One of the downsides of establishment.

  • Rod Gillis says:

    @ John Wallace, Something of the same attitude is being promoted by Canada’s Conservative government, describing the Great War is a “nation building” event and one which was fought for “freedom and liberty”. Imperialism on both sides more like it. The recruiting posters from the period make that clear. Be good to have a link for the Daily Mirror article, is this perhaps the one,

  • James says:

    Agreed. But isn’t this the situation that the C of E has colluded with for too long? You try telling the local branch of the Royal British Legion that the focus of Remembrance Day needs to be broadened and the sky falls in. Church, government and the Whig press have been in one another’s pockets for too long – and (as I know from experience) complaints to bishops always result in the bishop buckling under cultural pressures and the rug being pulled from under the feet of the parish priest. The Abbey clergy have my sympathy. Can you imagine the national uproar if there had been scenes of ISIS perpetrated atrocities being screened into the Abbey on plasma screens while Sebastian Faulks was reading his excerpt? It was a well-crafted piece of liturgy, which could do no more than meet the expectations of the national consensus if it was going to draw people beyond the walls of the church into a liturgical experience.

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