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100-YEAR-OLD ARMISTICE PRAYERS TO BE HEARD AGAIN THIS YEAR image

100-YEAR-OLD ARMISTICE PRAYERS TO BE HEARD AGAIN THIS YEAR

5th September 2018

As plans are finalised for major commemorative events nationwide, including exhibitions, parades and ceremonies marking the hundredth anniversary on November 11 of the signing of the Armistice at the end of the First World War, a charity has been working to help parish churches prepare for the occasion. 

Members of the Prayer Book Society, which encourages rediscovery and use of the majesty and spiritual depth of The Book of Common Prayer at the heart of the Church of England’s worship, have located special prayers used just six days after the end of the First World War. 

Now available for churches to download from the society’s website at www.pbs.org.uk/armistice, the prayers were found among documents stored in the archives of Lambeth Palace Library. 

They were issued under the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for use on Sunday, November 17, 1918. 

Now, with 100 days of prayer for peace well underway in churches across the country to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, the chairman of the Prayer Book Society, Prudence Dailey, hopes the 100-year-old prayers will be heard once again. 

She says: ‘Although they were intended for use during the services of Holy Communion and Morning and Evening Prayer which are found in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, I want to encourage parish churches and others to adapt them for use within their own Armistice Day cenotaph ceremonies and Remembrance Sunday services on November 11.’

Armistice Day was first observed formally in the grounds of Buckingham Palace during the morning of November 11, 1919. The previous evening King George V hosted a banquet in honour of the French President.

By the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Armistice further thanksgivings and prayers, as well as suitable psalms and lessons, were authorised by the Archbishops for use by churches. These, too, are available on the Prayer Book Society’s website. 

Says Prudence: ‘Although these documents are almost a century old, we have been able to recreate them in digital formats which can be printed, adapted or cut-and-pasted free of charge by today’s users.’ 

The society also has produced a selection of extracts from the Book of Common Prayer which would have been familiar to Church of England and other Anglican troops in both World Wars.

Suitable for use during Remembrance-tide, they range from one written for use ‘in the time of War and Tumults’ to the Third Collect for Aid against all Perils which opens with the words ‘Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord.’

As many of the troops will have experienced the use of psalms in Prayer Book worship, Psalm 23 in particular – ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ – will have been well known. It was, and still is, often used in times of anxiety, injury or death.

At nightfall in dangerous situations, soldiers with a church background may have recalled from Evensong the much-loved words of the Nunc Dimittis: ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace: according to thy word.’

  • Download the historic thanksgivings and prayers at www.pbs.org.uk/armistice
  • For a copy of Prayers for use at Remembrance-tide email the Prayer Book Society at pbs.admin@pbs.org.uk or call 0118 984 2582. Alternatively write to The Prayer Book Society, The Studio, Copyhold Farm, Lady Grove, Goring Heath, Reading RG8 7RT.


CAPTION FOR PHOTOGRAPH:

Pictured is the chairman of the Prayer Book Society, Prudence Dailey, who hopes that the special prayers used immediately after the end of the First World War will be heard in churches once again this year

 

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