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Prayerful prevarication

12 September 2014

AT ST ANDREW's, Ford, in Chichester diocese, an old metal box on top of a cupboard was opened some time ago for the first time in years, and revealed not only a collection of candlesticks, but printed Orders of Service for use in churches, dated 1914.

So, in an unusually packed St Mary's, Yapton (in the same benefice as Ford and Clymping), on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War, the Revd Richard Hayes provided facsimile copies of the Form of Intercession with Almighty God on behalf of His Majesty's Naval and Military Forces now engaged in War.

He explained how the service sheets had been found, and how George Bell - later the Bishop of Chichester, during the Second World War, but then a chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury - had helped to draw up the service and prayers.

Mr Hayes then told the congregation how there had been a conflict of views whether those prayers should ask God for victory for our side, and they had evidently compromised on the side of Christian generosity of spirit. The opening prayers sought "the help and guidance of God in this time of trouble"; asked for "wisdom and courage for the government of the nation"; and carefully prayed for "the sailors and soldiers of the King, and for the wounded, whether our own, or of the enemy". Donations were made to the Royal British Legion.

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