A Short Sequence of Music and Readings for Remembrance

St Mary de Crypt Church Southgate Street Gloucester
Friday 11th November 7.30pm

Gaudeamus, with Susan Honeywill (piano)

Give us the wings of faith Ernest Bullock

‘A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week — he thinks it was on Monday, August 3rd. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”’

From Grey’s Memoirs (1925).

Black and hideous to me is the tragedy that gathers, and I’m sick beyond cure to have lived on to see it. You and I, the ornaments of our generation, should have been spared this wreck of our belief that through the long years we had seen civilization grow and the worst become impossible. The tide that bore us along was then all the while moving to this grand Niagara— yet what a blessing we didn’t know it. It seems to me to undo everything, everything that was ours, in the most horrible retroactive way

Letter from Henry James to Miss Rhoda Broughton, 10th August 1914

O Salutaris Hostia Stephen Gowland.

Stephen Gowland is a composer based in Hereford. This piece featured on the Hereford Cathedral Choir disc ‘Great Cathedral Anthems Volume IX’. The Latin text means ‘how many are my enemies…’

‘First Time In’

After the dread tales and red yarns of the Line
Anything might have come to us; but the divine
Afterglow brought us up to a Welsh colony
Hiding in sandbag ditches, whispering consolatory
Soft foreign things. Then we were taken in
To low huts candle-lit, shaded close by slitten
Oilsheets, and there but boys gave us kind welcome,
So that we looked out as from the edge of home,
Sang us Welsh things, and changed all former notions
To human hopeful things. And the next day's guns
Nor any Line-pangs ever quite could blot out
That strangely beautiful entry to war's rout;
Candles they gave us, precious and shared over-rations—
Ulysses found little more in his wanderings without doubt.
'David of the White Rock', the 'Slumber Song' so soft, and that
Beautiful tune to which roguish words by Welsh pit boys
Are sung—but never more beautiful than here under the guns' noise.

Ivor Gurney

Piano interlude – David of the White Rock.

The ‘Slumber Song’ referred to in the poem is ‘Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through the Night)’.

‘Ivor Gurney goes to War’

He wants to take the organ pipes
from Gloucester Cathedral, and paper
enough for notes of both kinds.
If need be, he thinks, the pipes
could be rearranged into a hundred tin hats,
or stuffed with gunpowder, cartridges
composed from leftover notes,
but he hopes it won’t come to that.
Already he dreams in French, in names
that sound to him like songs,
Laventie, Picardie, Merville, Somme.
Or could they be the tempo of the piece,
he wonders: the orders for some to advance
slowly, while others should play on
as fast blood dries, as quick as ink.

Octavia Lamb

So they gave their bodies to the Commonwealth Peter Aston. Words from Pericles’ Funeral Oration (Athens 431 BC). Translated Alfred Zimmern.

Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd chant by Ivor Gurney

The chant to which psalm 23 is here set is by Ivor Gurney, composed in 1914 whilst studying at the Royal College of Music. The significance of the chant is not necessarily in its musical shape but in the use to which Gurney subsequently put the chant. Gurney’s manuscript of the chant is dated, ‘Summer Term 1914 / Used at Fauquissart / July 1916’. Gurney’s reference to Fauquissart alludes to the fact that, whilst serving with the 2/5 Gloucestershire Battalion at Fauquissart during the First World War, he sang this psalm to himself to steady his nerves under bombardment.

Philip Lancaster
‘Such, such is death’

Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat:
Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean,
A merciful putting away of what has been.
And this we know: Death is not Life, effete,
Life crushed, the broken pail. We who have seen
So marvellous things know well the end not yet.

Victor and vanquished are a-one in death:
Coward and brave: friend, foe. Ghosts do not say,
"Come, what was your record when you drew breath?"
But a big blot has hid each yesterday
So poor, so manifestly incomplete.
And your bright Promise, withered long and sped,
Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet
And blossoms and is you, when you are dead.

Charles Hamilton Sorley

Expectans Expectavi Charles Wood. Poem by Charles Hamilton Sorley.

‘Strange Meeting’

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now. . . .”

Wilfred Owen

Dulce et Decorum Est Graham Keitch. Also the title of a poem by Wilfred Owen.

And I saw a new heaven Edgar Bainton

‘In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)’ 

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

Edward Thomas

For the Fallen Douglas Guest

Gaudeamus are Vicki Field (soprano), Sebastian Field (countertenor), Ashley Turnell & Deryck Webb (tenors), Duncan Wilkins & Jeremy Crowhurst (basses).

Remembrance Sequence devised by Gaudeamus, with grateful thanks to Dr Philip Lancaster and Graham Keitch