Remembrance Sunday hymns

A couple of random (and not necessarily very Remembrance-y) thoughts from the Remembrance Sunday service at our local parish church this morning.

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.

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6 thoughts on “Remembrance Sunday hymns”

  1. I think my parents were at a funeral recently where ‘I vow to thee’ was sung. It was the funeral of the father of a colleague (I think); the workplace being a missionary organisation, the funeral was fairly well decked out with Christians. The first stanza was apparently mumbled a bit and the second absolutely belted. πŸ™‚

    The first stanza just about passes muster for national anthem material. But as a church hymn it’s unimaginably dreadful.

    “O God, our help” jolly well ought to be flawless: it’s Psalm 90.

      1. I rebut your pre-emptive refutation. The examples of which you think are flawless…ly unpoetic. (“But who of glory is the King? The mighty Lord is this; E’en that same Lord that great in might And strong in battle is.”)

        You know whom I blame for McGonagall? The Scottish Psalter.

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