“Our soldiers, sailors and flying men need our prayers

New Year’s Eve was set to be the first of three special days of national prayer for the war. Several Berkshire parishes give us their slant on it. The vicar of All Saints, Dedworth also had a story from the Front about attitudes to the enemy.

All Saints’, Dedworth

The year 1916 still sees us engaged in a war even more terrible than the beginning of 1915. The Nation is bidden by its spiritual leaders, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church to keep Friday, December 31st, as a day of special prayer and intercession. Saturday, January 1st, is to be a day of preparation for Communion, which all are asked to make on Sunday, January 2nd. The duty of the Church is to carry on the fight against the World, Flesh and Devil, and it is the duty of the Church’s officers to lead in that fight. The response at times to that call seems small, it may be larger than it looks, but at any rate it makes the work as hard, if not harder, to carry on than other warfare. How grand has been the response to carry arms for King and Country, but the real victory for which we are fighting will not be won unless at the end we are a Nation nearer to God; having shown to the world that Christianity is the greatest power in war and peace.

Mr. Begbie narrates the following from behind the English lines in France:-

“The other day a doctor fell in with a British soldier whose blood was maddened by what he had seen of the German treatment of our wounded men. ‘Do you know what I mean to do,’ he demanded, ‘when I come across one of their wounded? I mean to put my boot in his ugly face.’ The doctor replied, ‘No you won’t; it’s not your nature. I’ll tell you what you will do – you’ll give him a drink out of your water-bottle.’ To which the soldier after a pause, in which he searched the doctor’s face, made grumbling and regretful answer, ‘Well, may be I shall.’”

Reading St John

Mr Rogers has now been moved up to the Front. He is where he wished to be when he offered for service as a Chaplain, and where he will have the opportunity of speaking to men at the most solemn moment of their lives of the things that matter eternally. We shall continue to be much in prayer for him, that he may be kept from all harm, and that his messages may be with great power.

Now may I commend to your very careful notice the arrangements which have been made to enable you to observe the last day of December and the first two days of January as our King and our Archbishops and Bishops desire that they should be observed. We stand on the threshold of a year that promises to be fateful beyond any in our previous history, a year that will probably test severely our fortitude, our courage and our faith.

Theale

THE WAR

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have appointed Sunday, January 2nd 1916, as a Day of Solemn Intercession to Almighty God; and Friday, December 31st, to be observed as a Day of Self-denial and Penitence. That we may take part in this solemn work of penitence and prayer, the Rector proposes to hold a Service at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 31st, and a Service of Intercession after the 3rd Collect at Evensong on Sunday, January 2nd. Full particulars will be announced in Church later on.

We greatly regret the death of William Ernest Pope. Royal Berks Regiment, killed at the front in France. Mr. Pope and his family were for many years parishioners, but had removed to Thatcham some little time ago. Edwin Rouse and William Fisher, close friends and neighbours at North Street, and who fought side by side at Looks, have both been wounded. Edwin Rouse has happily recovered, but William Fisher’s wound was, we are sorry to learn, more serious, and he is in hospital at Birmingham.

There are many additions to be made to the parishioners who are serving their Country. Walter Brocks, R. F. A., Victor Mosdell, R. E., William Bushell, A. S. C. Stanley Davies has joined the Australian Army, and Reginald Davies the Royal Fusiliers. Maxwell Davies and Herbert Forrester have offered themselves, but are not yet attached to Regiments. For all we ask the Divine Protection.

Sulhamstead

THE WAR
TO THE PARISHIONERS OF SULHAMSTEAD

Another and more serious call for believing and urgent prayer has come from the Archbishp of Canterbury and the Bishops of our Church. We are passing through a serious, very serious time. Our Statesmen need our prayers in the difficult and often hazardous dealings with foreign States, that God may guide them rightly. Those to whom is committed the direction of our Navy and Army need our prayers that their plans and strategy may be wisely conceived and carefully executed. Our sailors, soldiers and flying men need our prayers that their bodies and souls may be preserved pure and holy, and as far as can be, safe and whole, that their courage and devotion may not fail, and that they may achieve victory and honour. We need our own prayers that we may humbly and reverently live (Sunday and weekday) just as God wishes.

The Archbishop has chosen the first Sunday of the year for this urgent prayer, but, as prayer without penitence is not as God wills, he has asked that the two days before that Sunday may be observed in all humility and penitence.

The last evening of the year has always been devoted to a special meeting in our Rector’s Room at the Lower End. The first morning of the year has been accustomed to be opened by a celebration of the Holy Communion at St Michael’s Church. Both these services will assume additional solemnity and it is hoped will largely increase in numbers. In addition to this, the Litany will be said in St Michael’s Church on Friday December 31st at 10.30.

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, Dedworth section, January 1916 (D/P39/28A/9); Reading St. John parish magazine, January 1916 (D/P172/28A/24); Theale parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4); Sulhamstead parish magazine, December 1915 (D/EX725/3)

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