A foretaste of the judgment of Christ falling upon a nation which would have none of Him

Celebrations at Ascot were not dimmed by the failure of the electric supply in the middle of the service.

Advent, 1918

My dear friends,

It is with the most profound relief that I am able this year to address to you the Advent letter with the good hope of restored peace. We must feel that Advent has taken on a new meaning for us. It has been in a very real sense that Christ has come to the world. We make a mistake if we relegate the word Advent to His Final Coming. We have watched amazed these last few months a foretaste of the judgment of Christ falling upon a nation which would have none of Him. Whatever causes writers of History may attribute to the dramatic collapse of our enemies, those of us who believe in the immediate Rule of Christ over the world he won for Himself will see in that collapse His judgment at work. It was in truth an Advent, a foretaste of what the Final Advent must mean.

But the Advent of Jesus is not just to destroy, it is to build anew. There lies before us a period of intense activity where without His Guidance our efforts can so easily go in the wrong channels. I say with the utmost deep conviction that man unaided is not sufficient for this opportunity. We must aid our statesmen by our prayers. Here at All Souls’ we shall begin Advent with the daily Eucharist restored to the Parish.

Our thanksgiving services were marked by a real heartfelt thankfulness on the part of our people. Both morning and evening we paid our debt of honour to all who have served their country on active service, and pleaded for the peace and joy of those who had shown the greatest love which man can show. In the morning the congregation with choir and wardens made a pilgrimage to the Shrine, and in the evening to the Rolls of Honour in the Church. In both cases the simple act of respect and honour proved deeply affecting and impressive. It was greatly appreciated by those who have beloved names on our rolls.

An upsetting incident occurred in the failure in the morning of the electric current which put the organ out of commission in the midst of a hymn. The choir, however, rose well to the occasion, and went on as steady as rocks supported by the congregation who sang with a heartiness we have never heard before. Fortunately, our practice piano was standing in the church, and Mr Fowles was able to keep the choir well supported till the current was restored. It was nevertheless a great day and one which no one will ever forget. The Church had touched the need of the people.

A generous benefaction of £100 has been given to the Parish by Mr F A Keating in memory of his son.

The victory was marked by the gift of a large St George’s Cross Banner to the Church by Lady Radnor. It waved bravely over the Church on Thanksgiving Day. It will enable us to express ourselves on great occasions in the future. It is a great addition to the Tower, and helped to hide its unfinished appearance.


South Ascot Parochial Magazine, 1918 (D/P186/28A/18)

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“We have watched amazed these last few months a foretaste of the judgment of Christ falling upon a nation which would have none of Him”

A power cut caused disruption at the Ascot peace services.

Advent, 1918

My dear friends,

It is with the most profound relief that I am able this year to address to you the Advent letter with the good hope of restored peace. We must feel that Advent has taken on a new meaning for us. It has been in a very real sense that Christ has come to the world. We make a mistake if we relegate the word Advent to His Final Coming. We have watched amazed these last few months a foretaste of the judgment of Christ falling upon a nation which would have none of Him. Whatever causes writers of History may attribute to the dramatic collapse of our enemies, those of us who believe in the immediate Rule of Christ over the world he won for Himself will see in that collapse His judgment at work. It was in truth an Advent, a foretaste of what the Final Advent must mean.

But the Advent of Jesus is not just to destroy, it is to build anew. There lies before us a period of intense activity where without His Guidance our efforts can so easily go in the wrong channels. I say with the utmost deep conviction that man unaided is not sufficient for this opportunity. We must aid our statesmen by our prayers. Here at All Souls’ we shall begin Advent with the daily Eucharist restored to the Parish.

Our thanksgiving services were marked by a real heartfelt thankfulness on the part of our people. Both morning and evening we paid our debt of honour to all who have served their country on active service, and pleaded for the peace and joy of those who had shown the greatest love which man can show. In the morning the congregation with choir and wardens made a pilgrimage to the Shrine, and in the evening to the Rolls of Honour in the Church. In both cases the simple act of respect and honour proved deeply affecting and impressive. It was greatly appreciated by those who have beloved names on our rolls. An upsetting incident occurred in the failure in the morning of the electric current which put the organ out of commission in the midst of a hymn. The choir, however, rose well to the occasion, and went on as steady as rocks supported by the congregation who sang with a heartiness we have never heard before. Fortunately, our practice piano was standing in the church, and Mr Fowles was able to keep the choir well supported till the current was restored. It was nevertheless a great day and one which no one will ever forget. The Church had touched the need of the people.

A generous benefaction of £100 has been given to the Parish by Mr F A Keating in memory of his son.

The victory was marked by the gift of a large St George’s Cross Banner to the Church by Lady Radnor. It waved bravely over the Church on Thanksgiving Day. It will enable us to express ourselves on great occasions in the future. It is a great addition to the Tower, and helped to hide its unfinished appearance.

South Ascot Parochial Magazine, December 1918 (D/P186/28A/18)

Joy in victory is clouded by the thought of those whose fidelity unto death helped to win that victory

A Reading vicar rejoiced at the end of the war.

MY DEAR FRIENDS

None of us are ever likely to forget the month that is ended. We have lived through tremendous days, apocalyptic days, when the judgements of God have been manifest in all the earth, when his voice has been heard saying to them that rose up against Him, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Witnessing the utter downfall, the complete humiliation and final ruin of the Germanic Alliance, we are driven again to the great poetry of the psalms for words adequate to describe the things we have seen, and we find them in the second psalm, ‘The Kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His anointed… He that dwelleth in Heaven shall laugh them to scorn, the Lord shall have them in derision… Thou shalt bruise them with a rod of iron and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ And from the same psalm we draw the moral for ourselves, ‘Serve the Lord in peace and rejoice unto Him with reverence.’ Reverence was the most marked feature of those wonderful Services of Thanksgiving wherein on Monday evening and on the following Sunday we thanked God for His deliverance and for the victory which we attribute only to His help- reverence and a solemn awe. A new devotion to God’s service and a new oath of allegiance to the divine King must be our permanent response to our God thus made manifest in judgement and in mercy.’ This God is our God for ever and ever. He shall be our guide even unto death.’

In the midst of our rejoicings our loving sympathy goes out to those whose joy in victory is clouded by the thought of those whose fidelity unto death helped to win that victory. May the knowledge that the sacrifice has not been in vain comfort the hearts of all whose dear ones’ names are entered on our Roll of Honour for the fallen and must in due time be permanently engraved upon the walls of our Church.

The news of the signing of the armistice came to us in the midst of the severe epidemic of influenza which has claimed many victims among soldiers and civilians alike….

We pray that God may bring comfort to the parents of soldiers who have died of pneumonia following on influenza, among whom we would mention Privates Aliban and Church, old boys of St John’s and St Stephen’s respectively. Lastly, we offer respectful sympathy to the family and friends of Frank Fisher, old boy and chorister of St Stephen’s, killed in battle in the last month of the war….

The sermon and preaching arrangements for Advent will be found in the Calendar. I propose on Sunday mornings at St John’s to speak from the Christian standpoint on certain important ideas which are at present occupying the minds of thoughtful people, under the general title of “Issues of the Great War”. My subjects each Sunday will be:

Dec. 1 The War to end War
Dec. 8 The World Safe for Democracy
Dec. 15 The League of Free Nations
Dec. 22 The Re-union of Christendom…

I wish you all a very happy Christmas. The birthday of the Prince of Peace will be celebrated this year by a world at peace at last after 4 ½ years of war. Let us celebrate it with glad thanksgiving and with the earnest prayer that the hearts of all men everywhere may be inclined to do His Will, so that there be permanent peace on earth, among men of good will.

Your sincere friend and vicar,

W. Britton.

Reading St. John parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

Determined not to give in until an end has been made of the menace of tyranny and despotism

The vicar of Earley continued to be exercised by the unpatriotic refusing to restrain their consumption of limited food and drink supplies.

The Vicar’s Letter

We can hardly realise that we have almost reached the end of another year; it seems but a few weeks to our last Advent, our last Christmas, yet how much has happened since. How the war drags on from week to week, month to month, and how, in spite of it all, it finds us as determined as ever not to give in until an end has been made of the menace of tyranny and despotism. There is no fear as to the final result, but we shall have need of all our self-control and self-denial during the next few months. And yet how many are absolutely refusing to exercise that self-control in matters of food and drink.

A short while ago a foreman of some railway works in the west of England told us that he had spoken to his men about the probability of the cost of beer being raised to a shilling a pint, and asked them what they meant to do. “We shall have it”, was the reply. Here lies the real danger for our country, far more than in the direct attacks of our enemies…

If we think as we ought of what the season means for us, we can at any rate spend a Happy Christmas, even if a Merry Christmas is out of the question.

Your friend and Vicar
W W Fowler.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have [sic] been added to our prayer list: Harold Davies.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

SICK OR WOUNDED: Harold Giles, Rupert Wigmore, Harry Hewett, Eric Fowler, Ernest Thompson, George Fulford, Harry Ayres.

KILLED: Arthur Buskin, Frank Buskin, Charles Smith.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

We live in times when death is seen to stand near the door of every household

The war served as a constant reminder of the fragility of life to those at home.

Advent and Christmas

The Message of the Advent Season is a very solemn one “Prepare to meet thy God”.

It is a message that cannot be set aside as addressed only to come of us, or unheeded as having no immediate urgency. We live in times when death is seen to stand near the door of every household and the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

But if we take to heart the Advent message of the Church, we need not be afraid of anything that death can do for we shall be learning to company with Him who is the Lord of Life.

The way to prepare to meet our God is to occupy ourselves, with alert and purposeful industry, in the daily duties which lie before us. God sets the task, which we call duty. He will show us what He would have us do, if we seek to Him, in prayer, for guidance: He will give us the Bread of Life. He will not suffer the work to fail when we ourselves are called away, nor can any life be said to be cut short if the service for which God has asked has been fully rendered.

“For even here unto were ye called – that ye should follow His steps.” “Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing.” For all such servants the happiness of Christmas is an earnest of the joy of the Lord”.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Our fourth war-time Christmas: a joy none can take from us

Food shortages, and the use of adulterated products, had one unexpected casualty – the quality of communion bread. The vicar of Cookham Dean reflected on the fourth Christmas of the war.

The Vicar’s Letter

Since the war began I have found increasing difficulty to obtain bread suitable for use at the Holy Communion. For years I have had a special loaf sent every week from Edinburgh, but it is impossible to depend now upon its quality, and some of the ingredients with which bread is at present made are quite unsuitable for the holy purpose for which it is used. For a long time past I have used, both for sick people and on Saints’ Days, wafer bread, made as the Prayer Book directs, ‘of the best and purest wheaten flour’: Its use secures reverence, and its quality never varies, so that from Advent Sunday onward I intend to use it on Sundays also: I am obtaining it for the present from the same place that supplies the Bishop with that used by him in the Palace Chapel at Cuddesdon.


The Vicar’s Letter

This will be our fourth war-time Christmas. As each year goes on one realises how less like Christmases of former days each succeeding one becomes; and yet, beneath all the changes and turmoil of war, there must ever be the gladdening in our hearts at the thought of the Redemption of the World by our Lord Jesus Christ. We must be ready to offer our worship at the Manger Throne, and find the same comfort and the same grace as ever before at the Altar Throne if our hearts have been duly prepared in Advent by penitence and faith to seek Him, and receive Him there.

Some of the dear lads from the village will spend their Christmas very near to Bethlehem: What an un-looked-for experience for them! May they, and we, and all our dear ones, far and near, bound together in love for Him who was born at Bethlehem – ‘born for us’- find in His Presence a joy none can take from us, and thus realise in a very true way a happy Christmas.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)

“We soldiers do need the prayers of those left behind”

The vicar of Reading St Mary had some Christmas thoughts for his flock, despite the ongoing war, and the large numbers leaving home to join the armed forces.

The Vicar’s Notes

How much we hoped that this Christmas would be a Christmas of peace! But as the King said in his noble appeal to his people, “The end is not in sight.” So we must be patient, and even in the midst of the terrific struggles of this great war, must try and enter into the spirit of the Christmas festival with its strong message of hope and encouragement, and the certainty that it assures us of, that God will bring good out of evil.

Roll of Honour
Additional names, S, Mary’s District

Harry Day, Norman Day, William Day, William Kemp, Frank Goddard, George Hunt, Jesse Gore, Albert Gore, John Gore, Sidney Gore, William Peirce, William Eaton, Robert Hinder, William Noakes, Frederick Wild, George Swain, Herbert Allen, Charles Smith, Clement Green, Albert Gibson, Alec Barker, John Noakes.

All Saint’s District
Roll Of Honour

George Baker, Frederick Montague Brown, Arthur Budd, Alfred Bernard Carter, Harry Clay, Arthur William Crook, Charles Frederick Fox, Fred Fuller, Bert Fuller, William Hanson, Albert Charles Lambden, Walter Howard Lee, Walter John Malham, John Henry Malham, Herbert William Macdonald, Frank James Noble, F. William Pomeroy, Fred Povey, Ernest Frank Sopp, Harold Stagg, Charlie Turner, John Turner, Ernest Wicks, Albert Wiggins.

S. Saviours District
War Intercessions

The service at 3 p.m. on Wednesday will be continued during Advent. Several more men from this district have joined the Army and Navy during the past month, among them being Reginald James Barnes and Albert Edward Griffin, two of our servers, whom we may hope to see at Christmas.

In letters, which have been received, occur such words as “We soldiers do need the prayers of those left behind”; “indeed I miss S. Saviour’s very much”; “I did not get the chance of going to Church either last Sunday or this … I was very disappointed.”

Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P98/28A/13)

“His passing-on brings the realities of war close to home”

The people of Ascot supported the war in multiple ways.

THE WAR.

We deeply regret to have to record the death of Pte. Harry Freeman, killed in France. His family is so well known and respected in Ascot, and he himself, as one of our old School boys, and in the Choir, so familiar a figure among us in the past years, that his passing-on brings the realities of war close to home. His parents and sisters have our deepest sympathy.

Pte. Jack Jones, having recovered from his wound, has been at home for a week, and is now stationed at Portsmouth for a short time. He is one of the 9 survivors out of 25 engaged in digging a trench in the open.

Another of our wounded, Archibald Grimmett, is doing fairly well, we are thankful to say, but has not yet recovered the use of his side. He is now at Southbourne.

Percy Huxford and Richard Taylor are prisoners of war in Germany.

Our other wounded are doing well.

TWO SPECIAL INTERCESSIONS SERVICES will be held during Advent, on Tuesday, December 7th, at 7.30 p.m., in the Parish Room, when the names of all those at the Front whose homes are in the Brookside District of the Parish will be specially remembered before GOD; and on Monday, December 13th, at 7.30 p.m. in the Church, for those whose homes are in the London Road and High Street Districts. It is earnestly hoped that the near relatives of our Ascot lads, in each case, will be present at one or other of these prayer meetings, so that, all together, we may unite in prayer to our Father in Heaven for those whom it is our bounden duty to pray.

A “PRISONERS OF WAR” box is placed inside the Church, for which offerings are invited. We hope to send out to our prisoners Christmas parcels: and we look forward, if the offering allow, to send them further parcels from time to time.

WAR HOSPITAL STORES DEPOT.

It may interest those of our readers who are working at the Ascot War Hospital Stores Depôt to know that over 46,000 articles have been sent to the Hospitals abroad since the depôt opened on June 22nd last. The work is continuing at full swing, though more helpers will be gladly welcomed by Lady Susan Dawnay at the depôt room above the Military Hospital at any time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. till dark. 28 crates and 3 bales have already been sent to the following Hospitals:

21st British General Hospital, Alexandria, 2 crates
French Military Hospital, Ducey, France, 2 crates
Belgian Military Hospital, Calais, 2 crates
British General Hospital, Havre, 2 crates
British General Hospital, Lemnos, 5 crates
“Entente Cordiale” Hospital, Mentone [Menton, France], 3 crates
Belgian Field Hospital, Dunkirk, 2 crates
“Border” (British) Hospital for French Soldiers, France, 2 crates
French Hospital, Château du Franc Port, Compiègne, 1 crate
Ascot Military Hospital, 1 crate
Italian Field Hospital on Austrian Frontier, 1 crate and 1 bale
No. 12 British General Hospital, Rouen, 2 bales
Belgian Hospital (c/o Belgian Soldiers Fund) 2 crates

“Two crates” contain approximately the following articles :
1000 bandages, 24 many-tailed bandages, 24 T-bandages, 24 slings, 24 knee many-tailed bandages, 24 head or stump bandages, 12 chin bandages, 50 pairs of splints, 1000 puff swabs, 1 gross Turkish towelling swabs, 1 gross eye swabs, 1 gross solid gauze swabs, 1 gross gauze and wool swabs, 1000 flat swabs, 1000 plugs, 12 pillows, 6 pairs of crutches, 24 pairs of socks, 24 pyjamas or night shirts, 12 bed jackets, 24 shirts. Consignments of blanket shave also been sent.

BELGIAN SOLDIERS FUND. £6 9s 0d. has been sent to the above Fund from Ascot Parish.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/12)

A very real judgment

The Advent period is not just the weeks leading up to Christmas: it is the period when Christians contemplate the Second Coming of Jesus. The vicar of Warfield thought the war and its sorrows made it more real than ever before:

VICAR’S LETTER.

MY DEAR FRIENDS AND PARISHIONERS,

Advent is here and with it a new Christian year, and let us hope a greater prospect of success in our defence of what is true and honourable in the field of battle as well as in our own individual lives. The past few months have been a period of much heart-searching for most of us, and with the coming of Advent, which always strikes a solemn note, we shall all feel its peculiar appeal this year when many a loyal and true life has been willingly laid down for King and Country in a foreign land. In the midst of life’s sorrows we look with greater realization at the eternal life. In this year there has been a very real coming of Jesus Christ in temporary judgement, teaching us to prepare for the last Judgment. Advent also comes with the hope to the great second coming of Christ, the last Christmas of majesty, by endeavouring to make real in our individual lives what we are standing for before the word as a nation.

Yours affectionately in Christ.

WALTER THACKERAY.

* * *

We wish to convey our sympathy to the mother and father of George Scott, who is the first Warfield man to be placed on the Roll of Honour.

Warfield section of Winkfield District magazine, December 1914 (D/P151/28A/6/12)