The best hymns for Remembrance Sunday

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Both Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday serve to remember those who have died in military conflict and are being honored throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.

What is the difference between Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday?

Remembrance Day is November 11, when World War I finally ended in 1918, and is also known as Armistice Day. Remembrance Sunday is the second Sunday in November when the country unites and attends services in memory of those who have lost their lives in military conflicts since 1914.

What hymns are sung on Remembrance Day?

Stay with me

Inspired by the words of a dying man, the hymn ‘Stay with meask God to stay with those who gave their lives for their country. This hymn was composed by Anglican minister Henry Francis Lyte in 1820, and is a popular piece of funeral music also.

I swear to you my country

Play at Prince Philip’s funeral, the anthem ‘I swear to you my country‘describes how a Christian’s loyalties are divided between a person’s homeland and the kingdom of God.

Diplomat Sir Cecil Rice wrote the poem between 1908 and 1912. It was originally titled ‘Urbs Dei ‘ (“The city of God”). In 1921, Gustav holst put the words on a specially adapted version of ‘Jupiter’ from its sequel The planets. Five years later, he added harmonies so that it could become a hymn to be sung in church services. Since then he has been popular in the Armistice Service.

Jerusalem

Although it was written in 1808 by William Blake, Jerusalem is synonymous with First World War, which took place over a century later. It was in 1916 that Hubert Parry set Blake’s text to music in order to boost the morale of the nation. It then became a beacon of hope for a country suffering from the ravages of war. Today it is one of the UK’s most beloved patriotic hymns and is sung at various ceremonies.

God help us in the past centuries

The anthem ‘God help us in the past centuries‘is a favorite for remembrance ceremonies and is still sung during the annual Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in London. Written in 1708 by Isaac Watts, it is inspired by Psalm 90 and contains a strong message of promise and hope.

O valiant hearts

Written by Sir John Stanhope Arkwright to remember the dead of World War I, ‘O Valiant Hearts’ was published in The Supreme Sacrifice and other poems in wartime (1919). It is usually sung to a tune composed by the Reverend Dr Charles Harris, but other composers, including Vaughan williams also put the words to music.

Dear Lord and Father of Humanity

The popular anthem ‘Dear Lord and Father of humanity‘was adapted from Quaker John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem’ The Brewing of Soma ‘(which he wrote in 1872) by Garrett Horder and was published in his 1884 Hymns of the Congregation.

Eternal Father, strong to save

Eternal Father, strong to save‘, was written in 1860 by William Whiting after drawing inspiration from Psalm 107 and its reference to ships and the sea. Towards the end of the 19th century ‘Eternal Father, strong to save‘had become a popular anthem of the Royal Navy and the US Navy and since then many other armed services have adopted it as well, including the Royal Marines and the British Army.

Today it is also known as “Her Majesty’s Armed Forces Anthem”, “Royal Navy Anthem”, “United States Navy Anthem”, “Navy Anthem” And sometimes by the last line of its first verse, ‘For those in peril on the sea’.

The day you gave the lord is over

Written by the Anglican hymnodist Reverend John Ellerton (1826-1893) ‘The Day Thou Gavest Lord’ is Ended ‘is the official evening anthem of the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.

For the fallen

For the fallenhe has perhaps the most poignant words of all the works performed on Remembrance Sunday. The poem’s powerful fourth stanza, with its four iconic lines beginning with “They shall not grow old, as we who are left to grow old”, is known today as the “Ode of Remembrance.”

‘For The Fallen’ was written by poet Laurence Binyon in 1914, after the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force at the Battle of Mons, the first action of the First World War.

You can find the lyrics of many famous hymns here

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