Mission of St. Clare logo Background of Grant peace, O Lord

If you have a moment, here's some background on the hymn.

Until very recently, the War Memorials in Neath [Wales] officially commemorated only those who died in the two World Wars. Then, in 2008 a group of us who attended the Remembrance parades at the Memorial Gates [photo 1, photo 2, photo 3 *] each year decided it was time those members of our Armed Forces who had given their lives since 1945 should also have a memorial. This view was reinforced when we learned that, other than 1963, not a year had passed without at least on of our Servicemen being killed in the line of duty—peacekeeping comes at a price!

This required money and my role was to organise a fund-raising concert performed by our local Silver Band and six Male Choirs. Although a concert, each of the choirs made it clear they also saw it as an act of remembrance and it was agreed the evening should end with a hymn to be sung by massed choirs and audience.

That raised the question as to which hymn. I couldn't help thinking about that phrase from Ecclesiasticus

"And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been".

Then lines from our Remembrance parades joined in.

The first, from Lawrence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen" (1914)

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The second is known as "The Kohima Epitaph" and commemorates those Allied troops who fell in the Burma Campaign.

"When you go home tell them of us and say -
For your tomorrow we gave our today"

From the above you'll see that the final verse of the hymn had just about written itself!

The rest came remarkably quickly. I've always believed that Remembrance should not be limited to the dead—important though that is. Neither should it be a vehicle for glorifying war. If we loved one another as commanded war would be just history. We don't but that shouldn't stop us asking for help to do so.

At the time, there were young men and women from out town serving in Afghanistan who deserved better than to be forgotten—hence the second verse.

The third verse simply states my view that the living victims of conflict need and deserve our support.

I used "Finlandia" as the musical framework as it is one of the most moving pieces I know.

That, In a nutshell, was the genesis of "Remembrance".

I was very proud when my hymn was sung at that concert and even prouder when it was used during the town's official Remembrance Service last year. I shall feel equally proud on May 31st that my efforts will play some part in the Memorial Day commemorations in Santa Cruz and elsewhere.

Every good wish

Charles Henrywood


*photos provided by Charles Henrywood