Festival and Setting Commemorate WW1

by Gerry Lynch last modified 06 Jun, 2014 10:35 AM

Royal School of Church Music publishes new service for young singers to commemorate centenary; Salisbury festival planned.

A complete service for young people commemorating the centenary of the beginning of the First World War has just been published by the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM). We will remember them is the latest service book in the RSCM’s Young Voices Festival series, and comes complete with appropriate hymns, songs, readings and prayers.      

We will remember them is a complete service, devised by Precentor of Salisbury Cathedral, Tom Clammer, and begins appropriately with a medley of songs from World War I including Pack up your troubles and It’s a long way to Tipperary. Through the service’s readings and music, the realities of conflict and war are remembered, and the prayers are for those affected by war and those who have died, and give thanks for God’s peace and love.

The service We will remember them takes its title from lines by the poet Lawrence Binyon recited at Remembrance services. Binyon’s poem appears in full as a reading, along with a choice of two musical settings of the text; a simple setting by John Madden, and a more challenging version by Mark Blatchly which was first performed at the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall by the choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral directed by Barry Rose.

The service contains a mix of musical styles, from the African-American spiritual Joshua fit the battle of Jericho to the traditional hymn I vow to thee my country sung to Holst’s stirring tune Thaxted. There are also worship songs including Stuart Townend’s popular In Christ alone. In the service book, there is some historical background such as the story of the 1914 Christmas Truce on the Western Front, when the carol Silent night was sung on both sides of ‘no man’s land’ – our arrangement includes words in both English and German. 

Some choirs find the cost of purchasing music challenging, but Heather Bamber, RSCM's Marketing Administrator says, “Choirs only need to purchase one copy which includes a CD ROM containing photocopiable music for the singers, notes for choir trainers, an order of service, and demonstration and backing tracks.”

We will remember them is the first of two RSCM publications commemorating the World War I centenary; Lest we forget will be published shortly. Both have been edited by the RSCM’s Head of Publishing Tim Ruffer. “We will remember them will appeal to many choir trainers and young singers,” he said. “The reality of conflict and war is placed in its historical context, and the combination of speech and music leads those who take part through to a message of hope and a commitment to peace.”

One local performance of the service will be at Salisbury Cathedral on Saturday 22 November at 5.30 pm, conducted by Cathedral School Director of Music Ian Wicks and sung by the RSCM Wessex Region's Young Voices Festival.

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