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Some churches observe “Remembrance Sunday” on the closest Sunday to November 11. Over the years, musically speaking, I have preferred these Sundays to emphasize more a vision of Peace. Quite often I have chosen Requiem Masses, with strings and organ accompaniment. eg. in 2019 we presented the Fauré Requiem this way. These masses were chosen not so much as “memorials,” but rather toward the themes of peace and resurrection.


This year being the 150th anniversary of his birth, we continue to honour the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, with parts of his Mass in G minor, and Lord,Thou Hast Been Our Refuge - his setting of Psalm 90. 


The Opening Hymn “O God, our Help in Ages Past” is also a setting of Psalm 90, sung to the well known William Croft tune: 

St Anne, with a paraphrase text by Isaac Watts. 


In the Vaughan Williams setting, you will hear this hymn appear very peacefully as background to solo voices. Later on, a trumpet picks up this hymn tune, with a final “rise in glory” ending, not so much as a military instrument, but a symbol of resurrection. 


Emphasis on the theme of peace continues with the Sequence Hymn Let there be Light and the Offertory Hymn O Day of Peace.

The Closing Hymn Healing River of the Spirit, with text by American poet Ruth Duck, calls on a “living stream” that can heal the nations and “make us channels of your power.”


The Postlude “Bist du bei mir,” is an arrangement by J.S. Bach that is normally sung, but stands alone beautifully as an instrumental piece. The text is akin to a prayer before falling asleep, and a sacred time of peaceful rest.

I end with a quote from Isaiah 2, which helps summarize the theme for this Sunday, but also appropriate for any worship service.
Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.