Saturday, 22 February 2014

Army service with a smile!

Humorous hymn sheets kept the soldiers smiling 
Following my previous post's theme of faith at the Front, here's a hymn sheet that must have raised a few chuckles among the troops.

Entitled 'Daily routine of a soldier's life told by a few well-known hymns', it belonged to Stanley Goodhead, a Manchester soldier whose vivid letters from France and Belgium are included in my book.

Most men would have known these hymns well, but even in today's more secular times when they may not be as familiar, they still make an amusing read:

3.30am Reveille - 'Christians Awake'
6.45am Rouse Parade - 'Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid'
7am Breakfast - 'Weekly Wait and Murmur Not'

8.15am Company Parade - 'When He Cometh'
8.45am Manoevres - 'Fight the Good Fight'
11.15am Swedish Drill - 'Here We Suffer Grief and Pain'
1pm Dinner - 'Come Ye Thankful People Come'

2.15pm Rifle Drill - 'Go Labour On'
3.15pm Lecture by Officer - 'Abide With Me'
4.30pm Dismiss - 'Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow'
5pm Tea - 'What Means This Eager Anxious Throng'

6pm Free for the night - 'O Lord How Happy We Shall Be'
6.30pm Out of bounds - 'We May Not Know, We Cannot Tell'
10pm Last Post - 'All Are Safely Gathered In'
10.15pm Lights out - 'Peace, Perfect Peace'
10.30pm Inspection of guards - 'Sleep On Beloved'

A rather different mood was struck by this hymn that was written specially for men at the Front. The words certainly pulled no punches, for example: 'For those who weak and broken lie in weariness and agony'. But at least the truth of war was confronted, and support was offered in the form of faith.

Lord God of hosts, Whose Mighty Hand
Dominion holds on sea and land,
In Peace and War Thy Will we see
Shaping the larger liberty.
Nations may rise and nations fall,
Thy Changeless Purpose rules them all.

When death flies swift on wave and field,
Be Thou and sure defence and shield!
Console and succour those who fall,
And help and hearten each and all!
O, hear a people's prayers for those
Who fearless face their country's foes!

For those who weak and broken lie
In weariness and agony -
Great Healer, to their beds of pain
Come, touch, and make them whole again!
O, hear a people's prayers and bless
Thy servants in their hour of stress!

For those to whom the call shall come
We pray Thy tender welcome home.
The toil, the bitterness, all past,
We trust them to Thy Love at last.
O, hear a people's prayer for all
Who, nobly striving, nobly fall!

For those who minister and heal,
And spend themselves, their skill, their zeal -
Renew their hearts with Christ-like faith,
And guard them from disease and death.
And in Thine own good time, Lord, send,
Thy Peace on earth till Time shall end!

With thanks to Barbara Rosser for the hymn sheet, and Jackie Carpenter for the hymn.

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