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,‑jFgfldUvM

  • 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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