ON THE eve of the commemoration of the death of Geoffrey
Studdert Kennedy, the military chaplain better known as "Woodbine
Willie", the Church of England's Liturgical Commission has
published resources to help churches mark the centenary of the
outbreak of the First World War.
Music, art, and literature, in addition to prayers and readings,
make up the package, which includes material for use in a requiem
eucharist, and an outline for a service beside a war memorial.
Among the novels and poetry suggested as sources for extracts
are Pat Barker's Regeneration triology, and works by D. H.
Lawrence, Sebastian Faulks, and Siegfried Sassoon.
Jerusalem and "I vow to thee, my country" are included
in the list of suggested hymns. The Commission has also compiled a
selection of music written during the First World War or deemed
evocative of that period. It highlights poems from A Shropshire
Lad by A. E. Housman, set to music.
Artists listed include Paul Nash, Jacob Epstein, and Stanley
Spencer, whose creations for the Sandham Memorial Chapel were
recently exhibited at Somerset House (Reviews, 17 January) and are
now at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester until 15 June.
Prayers remember "those whose stories were unspoken and untold.
. . those whose minds were darkened and disturbed by memories of
war . . . those who suffered in silence, and those bodies were
disfigured by injury and pain."
The chairman of the Commission, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt
Revd Stephen Platten, suggested that the Church of England had an
"essential role" to play in commemorating the Great War: "Whether
people like it or not . . . it was the Church of England, still
very much in an older sense the Established Church, that was the
holder of the national conscience at that point. But we still
retain a crucial role as the Church for all English people."
National services are also planned, including a vigil service at
Westminster Abbey on the evening of Monday 4 August, marking the
100th anniversary of Germany's declaration of war against
Woodbine Willie is remembered in the Anglican calendar on 8
March each year. He was a priest and poet who distributed
cigarettes and spiritual succour to injured and dying soldiers
during the First World War. In 1917, he was awarded the Military
Cross after entering No Man's Land to help the wounded. His
citation noted: "His cheerfulness and endurance had a splendid
effect upon all ranks."
The resource pack is available at
Woodbine Willie's grandson, Andrew Studdert Kennedy, is in
conversation at the Church Times Bloxham Festival on 31
May. Tickets and information: www.bloxhamfaithandliterature.co.uk