The opening hymn was Timothy Dudley-Smith’s great hymn Lord, for the years. It occurred to me that these lines are showing their age a bit in the Era of Austerity:
Lord, for our land in this our generation,
spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care…
But these still seem pretty apposite:
Lord, for our world where men disown and doubt you,
loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain…
Then the third hymn was I vow to thee, my country. I have a very conflicted view of this hymn. Basically the problem is the first stanza, whose words are marvellously stirring but whose sentiments are, quite bluntly, obscene. But I reckon it’s rescued by the second stanza – and, of course, by Holst’s magnificent tune:
And hey: it’s better than O valiant hearts (which we were spared).
[Edit: for a strongly contrasting piece by Holst, rather more in tune with his own socialist views, see my post on his anthem “Turn back, O man”.]
The hymn we sang at the war memorial for the act of remembrance was O God, our help in ages past. Which is a flawless and imperishable treasure. So that was alright.