This awful anniversary – the end is not yet in sight

The third anniversary of the start of the war was a time for reflection.

Reading St Giles
August

Saturday, August the 4th, will be the 3rd Anniversary of the declaration of the War, and the beginning of a 4TH Year. There will be celebrations of the Eucharist at 6.45, 7.30& 8 a.m. I hope that a great many will endeavour to be present to pray and intercede.
I propose on the following day, Sunday the 5th, to have a solemn requiem at 11a.m. for the fallen in the War. If any relatives or friends wish for the mention of names will they please send them into me by August 4th. At evensong, on Sunday the 5th, the special form of intercession put forth by the Archbishop will be used.

September

I was very thankful to see in August 4th, the 3rd Anniversary of the war, so many present at the Eucharist to intercede for our sailors and soldiers, and to pray for Victory and a righteous peace. The number of communions made was nearly four times as large as last year.

Broad Street Congregational Church

AUGUST THE FOURTH

Saturday, August 4th, will bring the third anniversary of the declaration of war, and in this connection a service arranged by the Reading Free Church Council will be held in our church beginning at 3 p.m. The service will be largely intercessory, and it will be conducted by ministers representing the various Free Churches in the town, those having promised to take part being the Rev. J A Alderson (President of the Council), Rev. T W Beck (Wesleyan), Rev. J Carter (Primitive Methodist), Rev. W C King (Baptist), Rev. J Mitchell (Presbyterian), and Rev. E J Perry, BD (Congregational).

Both last year and the year before similar services were held, and they were attended by large congregations. We hope it may be the same again this year.

Wargrave
August 4th and 5th, 1917:

These are days to be much observed with prayer being the third Anniversary of the declaration of War.

Saturday, August 4th, Holy Communion at the Parish Church 8.a.m. Mattins 10.a.m. Evensong 7.p.m. Special forms of prayer.

Sunday, August 5th, Services as usual: Special forms of prayer.

Cranbourne

In connection with the third Anniversary of the Declaration of War the special Forms of Prayer issued by the Archbishops were said in Church, and also at a united Service held in the Sunday School after Evensong. To this service our Wesleyan friends came in large numbers, and the address was given by the Rev. J.S. Hollingworth.

Earley St Peter

The Vicar’s Letter

My dear friends,

On August 4th we shall have reached the third anniversary of the commencement of the war, and we hope that all will observe it on Sunday, August 5th, and make the day a time for earnest prayer that peace may be restored. Three years ago there were comparatively few thought that it would have lasted so long. We feel as sure as ever that our cause will finally triumph, but the end is not yet in sight, and we have still to go on working and enduring, with a full trust that all will come right in God’s good time. It is true that as the writer of the Book of Proverbs says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick”; but we forget the second half of the verse, “but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” – that desire with us is a just and secure peace, under which we pray that the world will be restored and revivified; but we must each do our part.

From a secular point of view there are not many who are not working for their country and doing their best, but can we say that the nation as a whole is doing its best from a spiritual point of view, as a profesedly Christian nation? Are there not many among ourselves who, though deeply sincere at first, have gradually fallen back into the ruts of carelessness and indifference, and ought not what our Bishop calls this “awful anniversary” to give us cause to think very seriously on our position nationally and individually?

Your friend and vicar,
W W Fowler.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the August Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked

For our country and our allies, and for the whole world at the beginning of the fourth year of the war.
For victory and peace.
For a settlement in Ireland…

THE OBSERVANCE OF AUGUST 4-5

Before the Magazine reaches you, you will have in your hands the prayers and suggestions for prayer put out by the archbishops, with the consent of the diocesan bishops, for this awful anniversary. I have not anything to add to what is there suggested, there is abundant need that we should call to prayer all who believe in its power – that is all who believe in our Lord. And there is abundant need also that we should do all that lies in our power to maintain the spirit of our nation at its best level, at the level at which it can pray to God as we Christians have been taught to believe in Him.

A PRAYER FOR GIRLS WORKING IN MUNITIONS AND ON THE LAND

O most merciful Father, we beseech Thee to bless and protect the Girls, who have gone to work in the Munition Factories and on the land. Preserve them from all evil. Keep them in good health. Comfort them with Thy presence when they are lonely, and homesick, and tired. Grant that their influence may be for good, and that by their lives they may lead others nearer to Thee. Very specially we ask for a blessing on the work of the Church among them. Grant that we at home may realise how much there is to do, and that we may not fail in sacrifice, and work, and prayer. For Jesus Christ’s sake.
Amen.

C. OXON.

Reading St Giles parish magazines, August and September 1917 (D/P96/28A/32); Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, August 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14); Wargrave parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P145/28A/31); Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)Earley St Peter parish magazines, 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

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A year of horrors unimaginable, and the end not in sight

Across the county, the first anniversary of the declaration of war was solemnly commemorated with religious services.

At Mortimer West End, the services were dominated by the loss of two of its men who had given their lives.

Wednesday, August 4th, was the anniversary of the declaration of war by England, and we held a well-attended service in the evening of that day to pray about the past and the future. The service began with a Memorial for those who had fallen, remembering especially Captain Stephen Field, R.A.M.C., and Frank Goodchild, who went down on the “Good Hope.” Then we joined in intercession for our Rulers, our Army and Navy, and our Allies, the wounded and those tending them, and made an act of penitence for our national sins and shortcomings. The family of the late Captain Field has put up a memorial brass in the church bearing the following inscription:

“In loving memory of Captain Stephen Field, R.A.M.C., who died a prisoner in Germany, April 10th, 1915, aged 34. He was taken prisoner in the retreat from Mons while tending the wounded in a church. ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The later news which has come shows that the text was true of Captain Field up to the very last, as he laid down his life attending to typhus patients in camp in the midst of appalling conditions.

If any parents should be summoned to France to see a son dangerously wounded (which God grant may not occur) will they communicate at once with the Vicar, who will put them in touch with an organization which will make things easier for them?

At Stratfield Mortimer:
August 4th
The anniversary of the outbreak of war was observed by large congregations at all the services, 7.45 a.m., 2.30 and 7.30 p.m. There was no preaching, only hymns and prayers, but there was impressive evidence of a deep reality and earnestness. And this we hope to see maintained at the two week-day war services throughout the autumn. We should like to see at these weekly services more of parents and friends of Mortimer men who are now at the Front.

All Saints’, Dedworth, reported:

August 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration of War, was kept as a day of solemn Intercession. There was, as far as possible, continual Intercession throughout the day, and Services at different hours. We were glad to see so many were able to take their part at sometime of the day. We hope these days help to make us realize the tremendous need there is for all to intercede humbly every day to God for our nation, our friends, and our foes.

Nonconformists took part as well as Anglicans. Maidenhead Congregational Church announced the town’s nonconformists’ contributions to the day:

A YEAR OF WAR!
It is a whole year since the world’s peace was broken up, and horrors unimaginable before have become our daily meat. And the end is not yet in sight. There are those who prophesy that the end will be as sudden and unexpected as the beginning, and that Christmas will see us settled down once more in ways of peace. Whatever happens, we are convinced that the Allies will not lay down their arms until their warfare is accomplished, and they have lost no jot of their conviction that their chivalrous and Christian struggle on behalf of a great cause will be crowned with a complete and satisfying victory. But it may be that vast sacrifices lie before us, and for those we shall need more and more the continual succours of grace of God. Fortitude must be fed and supported by faith.

We urge upon all our friends the duty of earnest and constant prayer. We ought to pray in private as well as in public services, that our soldiers and generals may be strong, and our rulers wise. We ought to pray for the Church, that it may be rich in counsel, and that it may guide the people to a more solemn faith in God. And we shall need to pray for ourselves, that our faith may not fail, however great the burdens may be that it may be called upon to carry.

A united meeting of the Free Churches of the town for Thanksgiving and Intercession has been arranged to be held in the Congregational Church on Wednesday, August 4th, the Anniversary of the outbreak of war, at 7.30 p.m. Rev. G. Ellis (the new Primitive Methodist Minister) will preside, and a brief address will be given by the Rev. G. D. Mason. We hope the faith and gratitude of Maidenhead Nonconformists will suffice to bring them together in large numbers, and that we shall renew and enlarge our trust in a ruling and guiding Will. Let us not dwell too much on the past, but let us think of our duty now, and let us set our hearts right before Him. When the nation is on its knees, the victory will arrive.

The minister of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading, whose instincts were opposed to war in general, was less thrilled by the commemorations, although he allowed his congregation to take part in the town’s services.

Wednesday August 4th will see the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. War is not a thing that we rejoice in. Rather do we deplore the necessity for such a dire calamity. But we are in it – righteously, as we believe – and, God helping us, we are determined to see it through to a victorious conclusion. That is the thought that is animating the vast majority of our countrymen at this time, and a demonstration to give it expression on August 4th is now being organised by the Mayor…

Personally I cannot say that I am enamoured of processions and demonstrations at such a time as this; but that is neither here nor there. The thing I do rejoice in is that the religious element is to be prominent in the proceedings, and I hope my friends will help to make it and keep it so. In this connection I desire to draw attention to the United Service (arranged by the Executive Committee of the Free Church Council) which is to be held in our church that day at 5 p.m. Several of the Free Church ministers of the town will take part, and our organist and choir have promised their help. I trust we may see the church crowded for that service.

St John’s Church in Reading reported its own services and the interdenominational town ones:

Wednesday, August 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration of War, was observed among us principally as an occasion for earnest intercession. We began the day with a Celebration of Holy Communion at 5.30 a.m., at which there were 31 communicants, most of whom were on their way to work. At 10.30 a.m. we had a second Celebration, with an address by the Vicar. The hour of this service was fixed with a view to giving mothers an opportunity to come and pray for their sons at the Lord’s own service, and the number that came shewed how greatly they valued the opportunity. It was indeed a wonderful service, and will live long in the memories of those privileged to take part in it.

Later in the day, after Evensong in St Laurence’s Church, attended by the Mayor and Corporation, there was a great procession, in which all the public bodies in the town were represented, ending up with a demonstration in the Market Place, at which, after a short religious service, stirring addresses were delivered by Bishop Boyd-Carpenter and the Lord Chief Justice. St John’s Church was open from 8.30 onwards, and we ended the day with Family Prayers in Church, at which a large number of worshippers were present, thus ending the day as we had begun it – in prayer.

Churches in the Winkfield area also commemorated the anniversary of the war’s start.

ASCOT

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4th, the Anniversary of the Declaration of War, was observed in our Church, as in almost every Church throughout the land, as a day of Intercession before Almighty God in the spirit of deep penitence and true humility. We are thankful to be able to say that the chain of intercession was never allowed to be broken throughout the whole day. The great service of intercession, the Holy Eucharist, was offered at 8 a.m. and at 10.30 a.m.; and some of the grand old Offices of the Church were said: Sext, None, and Compline. The large attendance at all the services was something to be thankful for. It proved that our people have a sincere belief in the power of intercessory prayer and are willing to make an effort to do at least this much for our soldiers and sailors. But it also proved that mane more might, by a little sacrifice in the re-arrangement of their time, attend the Intercession Service which is held every Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. “Orare est laborare” – “to pray is to work,” and intercession for our men is a very important work in which we can all do our share, if we will.

CRANBOURNE

We were very unfortunate as regards the weather in our open air services of Intercession, four of them had to be abandoned owing to the rain. The Intercessions Services on the Anniversary of the Declaration of War were very well attended.

WINKFIELD

The special Services on August 4th were well attended, especially in the evening when we had a full Church; and the congregations were also large on the Sunday following. The anthem, “Lord for thy tender mercies sake,” being well rendered on both morning and evening.

Our thanks are due to the members of the C.E.M.S., who distributed notices of these services, which work was especially valuable in view of the notices in the Magazine being somewhat belated owing to its late issue this month.

Second Lieutenant Wilfred Loyd has just gone to the Front and will we trust be remembered in our prayers.

We are glad to be able to add two more names, Jack Dear and James Winnen to the list of Winkfield men serving, which was printed last month.

We regret to learn that Private R. Nickless has been wounded after having been at the Front only a few days. He has undergone an operation as is now progressing favourably.

The Vicar has sent a copy of the August Magazine to every man whose name is on the list published in that number.

WARFIELD

WAR ANNIVERSARY.- On August 4th there were two early celebrations of Holy Communion at 6.30 and 8, and though a week-day there were thirty communicants. The best attended service however was the open-air service held at Newell Green at 7 p.m. The Choir vested at the Brownlow Hall and preceded by the Processional Cross and followed by the Warfield Scouts made their way to the Cross Roads, where the service was begun by the singing of the National Anthem, followed by a short address by the Vicar on penitence and prayer, after which the hymn “Lord teach us how to pray aright,” was sung; prayers were offered for every Warfield belligerent by name.

The Vicar then asked all present to come up to the Church and to walk in couples and maintain strict silence while Church Litany was recited in procession. Just before reaching the Church the old Hundredth was sung; the service in Church was that sanctioned for use on the first Sunday in the year. The congregation which came in the procession numbered about three hundred. We thank God for His good hand upon us and for the great number whose hearts were touched and whose lips were opened on this solemn day.

The vicar of Warfield planned an open air service to commemorate the first anniversary of the war’s start.

THE VICAR’S LETTER.

MY DEAR FRIENDS AND PARISHIONERS,

Wednesday, August 4th, ought to be a very solemn day for all of us this year, being as you know the Anniversary of the Declaration of War. A great example is being set to us all on that day by our King and Queen Mary by their intention to be present at a solemn Service of Intercession in St. Paul’s Cathedral at noon. What are we going to do? Let the King be represented by all his subjects in Warfield, and St. Paul’s represented by our own Parish Church. The hour of noon be substituted by 7 p.m. Let us have a united open-air service at the Crossways at Newell Green. The National Anthem will be sung, a short address will be given. All our village soldiers will be prayed for by name. The Litany will be recited on our way to Church, where the service will conclude with the special service used on the first Sunday of this year. The Holy Communion will be celebrated that morning at 6.30 and 8.

Anyone who is absent on such an evening I should feel was ashamed of his country, and deserved no blessing from God. Let us all be united about it, and come not in tens but in hundreds and not be afraid to confess the mighty working of God in our midst. This can be done and I want you all to say that it must be done. Let us confess our God and cry mightily to Him. I ask every parishioner to do his or her utmost to bring their neighbours. London has set us all an example, let the country do her part, and may God lift up your hearts to seek His great and abundant blessings in the coming year.

Yours affectionately in Christ,
WALTER THACKERAY.

More privately, the Community of St John Baptist held its own services at the House of Mercy, Clewer.

4 August 1915
Anniversary of our declaration of war with Germany. The Penitents were present at the 7 a.m. Eucharist. War Litany was said by one of the priests at 12; & at Evensong there were special prayers, hymns, & the National Anthem.

Florence Vansittart Neale went with a friend to attend the big national service at St Paul’s.

4 August 1915
Up by early train with Mary Hine to London for the service at St Paul’s! 1st year of war over! Long wait. Nice service. Artillery band. Royalties there. Over by 1. We missed 2 o’clock train so had lunch, came down 3.45. Church after.

Bubs’ men had motor drive & tea at Henley.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P120/28A/14); Clewer parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P39/28A/9); Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5); Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14); Reading St John parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P172/28A/24); Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, August 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/8); CSJB Annals (D/EX1675/1/14/5); Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Committed to the horrors of a gigantic and devastating war

W. M. Rawlinson, minister of Broad Street Congregational Church, was distressed by the war, but like the Bishop of Oxford, believed Britain had been forced into it. He advised his flock:

When I wrote my notes a month ago I had not the remotest idea that a few days would bring such a mighty change. Then, so far as I knew, things were following their normal course in the country, and I was looking forward to the delights of a happy holiday in peaceful and healthful surroundings. But alas for the realisation!

The ink was scarcely dry upon the paper when the trouble began, and we were all plunged into the deep waters of anxiety and perplexity. War had been declared by Austria upon Serbia, and there was grave danger that all the great powers of Europe – ourselves amongst the number – might be involved. Each succeeding day saw the anxiety increased, and on Sunday, August 2nd – a day never to be forgotten – we passed a resolution at our evening worship, imploring the Government to observe the strictest neutrality.

But it would be quite impossible to set out in detail the course of events following. Nor is it necessary. They are, unfortunately, only too painfully familiar. Suffice it to say that when we passed our resolution we hoped and believed it would be possible for our beloved country to be spared the awful calamity of war. But it was not to be. Despite the most strenuous efforts of our noble Foreign Secretary, first to maintain peace, and afterwards to restrict the area of war, the day came when England could no longer with honour maintain her position of neutrality, and we were reluctantly compelled to acquiesce in the action of the Government in declaring war upon Germany. Now, as everybody knows, we are engaged in one of the greatest and ghastliest wars which the world has witnessed and God alone knows what the end of it all may be. But our trust is in Him and we fervently pray that He will defend the right and speedily bring the struggle to an end.

But my purpose here is not to deal exhaustively with the situation. It would be impossible to do that. I simply desire to place on record my deliberate conviction that, having regard to the course of events as set forth by the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, no other action was consistent with our honour as a great nation save that which was taken by the Government. Though I hate war with a perfect hatred I am convinced that “not to have interfered would have been to have consented to disregard the obligations of national morality”. I can make the words of Dr John Clifford my own:-

“I have searched high and low for reasons against our entrance into this war. I weighed every item of evidence I could get to fortify the conclusion I had reached that neutrality was obligatory, with the result that I have to confess, and I do it with indescribable reluctance, that there was no escape for us, and that our Government had been forced to the steps they had taken. They had not sought war. They had worked for peace – persistently and patiently. Our place in the war was not of choice. We were driven to defend from the most menacing attack ever made, the most precious ideas and principles, not merely of British and European, but of human well-being.”

And now that we are committed to the horrors of a gigantic and devastating war what are we as a church and as individuals to do?

Well, in the first place we must never forget the word of the Prophet that “in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength”. We believe that our cause is righteous, and so we can take it without hesitation to Him. “God is our refuge and our strength”. In His presence there is no excuse for fearfulness and doubt concerning the final issues. “Wait on the Lord and be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart.”

Then we must give ourselves to prayer as we have never done before. We must pray for our soldiers and sailors, for the sick and wounded, for homes saddened by the departure of loved ones, for fathers and mothers whose sons have gone to the war, and for wives bereaved of their husbands, for all in anxiety and fear, and for the speedy return of peace.

And whilst we pray we must also work – to lessen the evils in this time of war. To quote Dr Clifford once more:

“We must foster unity and peace, pity and sympathy. Our industries must be kept going as nearly as possible in a normal way. The usual order of our business day must be maintained. Waste must be avoided. The simple life must be lived in the love of God, and of our fellow men. And the inevitable calamities and special needs that follow in the wake of the demon of war must be prepared for as fully as possible.”

Already strenuous efforts are being put forth to this end. Suffering is being alleviated, the sorrowing are being comforted; those thrown out of work are being cared for. An influential and representative Relief Committee has been established in our town and is now busily at work. We must be ready, each and all of us, to render any help that may be in our power. The ladies are already working away making many garments. We must emulate their spirit in any ways that open before us.

We shall be helped in these trying days, I am sure, if we try to remember Abraham Lincoln’s war motto. Here it is:

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right – let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up this nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and orphan; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace.”

As regards the work of the church generally, we must follow out the usual programme as far as ever we possibly can. …

I should like in closing to call the attention of our friends to the short service of intercession which is being held in the church each day from 3.30 to 4 o’clock. This service has been arranged by the local Free Church Council, and it meets a great need of our time. Let us take the opportunity, as frequently as we can, of joining with our fellows to lift our hearts and our voices to God.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, September 1914 (D/N11/12/1/14)