General Guide to Resources for Commemorating World War I

Readings, prayers, hymns, art and music


  • Joshua 1.1–9
  • 2 Chronicles 20.1–9
  • Isaiah 2.1–5
  • Isaiah 49.13–19
  • Isaiah 55.6–end
  • Daniel 4.1–3
  • Amos 1.9–12
  • Psalm 23
  • Psalm 42
  • Psalm 46
  • Psalm 55
  • Psalm 72
  • Psalm 82
  • Psalm 90
  • Psalm 91
  • Psalm 143
  • Romans 8.31–end
  • Romans 12.15–end
  • 2 Corinthians 5.1–10, 14–end
  • 1Timothy 2.1–7
  • Ephesians 6.10–17
  • James 3.13–end
  • 1 John 3.11–18
  • Revelation 21.1–8
  • Mark 13.3–8
  • Matthew 5.21–24


Appropriate readings may be found in the following novels and anthologies of poetry:

  • Pat Barker Regeneration
  • Pat Barker The Eye in the Door
  • Pat Barker The Ghost Road
  • Pat Barker Life Class
  • Pat Barker Toby’s Room
  • Edmund Blunden Undertones of War
  • Vera Brittain Testament of Youth
  • Sebastian Faulks Birdsong
  • Robert Graves Goodbye to All That
  • Susan Hill Strange Meeting
  • D H Lawrence England, My England
  • Rose Macaulay Non-Combatants and Others
  • Erich Maria Remarque All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Siegfried Sassoon Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man
  • Siegfried Sassoon Memoirs of an Infantry Officer
  • 1914 Poetry Remembers, edited by Carol Ann Duffy
  • Poetry of the First World War, edited by Tim Kendall
  • Poetry of the World Wars, edited by Michael Foss
  • First World War Poems, chosen by Andrew Motion
  • Scars Upon My Heart: women’s poetry and verse of the first world war, selected by Catherine Reilly
  • The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell gives a critical overview of much of the contemporary literary responses to the conflict.


A selection of set prayers

Almighty Father,

whose will is to restore all things

in your beloved Son, the King of all:

govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,

and bring the families of the nations,

divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,

to be subject to his just and gentle rule;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

[Collect for the 3rd Sunday before Advent, Common Worship]


O God of the nations,

as we look to that day when you will gather people

from north and south, east and west,

into the unity of your peaceable Kingdom,

guide with your just and gentle wisdom all who take counsel

for the nations of the world,

that all your people may spend their days in security, freedom, and peace,

through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


God our Creator,

we fail to seek your justice,

and swerve from the way of your righteousness:

look with compassion upon those facing danger, disaster, and devastation.

Guide us all along the path of life, and make us valiant for truth,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Eternal God,

from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:

kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all, the true love of peace

and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom

those who take counsel for the nations of the earth

that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,

till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[CW Daily Prayer]


Heavenly Father,

who called your Church to witness

that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself:

help us to bring trust where there is fear,

understanding where there is prejudice,

and hope where there is despair,

that the world may know the power of

your reconciling love;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


A responsorial prayer of commemoration

Remember, Lord, those whose stories were unspoken and untold.

All Jesus, remember them when you come into your kingdom.

Remember, Lord, those whose minds were darkened and disturbed by memories of war.

All Jesus, remember them when you come into your kingdom.

Remember, Lord, those who suffered in silence, and those whose bodies were disfigured by injury and pain.

All Jesus, remember them when you come into your kingdom.

Father of all, remember your holy promise, and look with love on all your people, living and departed. On this day we especially ask that you would hold for ever all who suffered during the First World War, those who returned scarred by warfare, those who waited anxiously at home, and those who returned wounded, and disillusioned; those who mourned, and those communities that were diminished and suffered loss. Remember too those who acted with kindly compassion, those who bravely risked their own lives for their comrades, and those who in the aftermath of war, worked tirelessly for a more peaceful world. And as you remember them, remember us, O Lord; grant us peace in our time and a longing for the day when people of every language, race, and nation will be brought into the unity of Christ’s kingdom. This we ask in the name of the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


A Litany

God the Father,

have mercy upon us.

God the Son,

have mercy upon us.

God the Holy Spirit,

have mercy upon us.

Holy and blessed Trinity,

have mercy upon us.

From all fear and prejudice, bitterness, and all hardness of heart,

good Lord, deliver us.

From all spite, revenge, and destructive anger,

good Lord, deliver us.

From the desire to dominate others, to impose our will, and from all feelings of superiority,

good Lord, deliver us.


Open our hearts towards our neighbour, and help us to work together for the common good.

Lord, hear us and help us.

Strengthen us to stand for all that is just and true and right.

Lord, hear us and help us.

Grant that we may come to understand our enemies,

Lord, hear us and help us.

Bring release to those with abiding memories of hurt and injury

Lord, hear us and help us.


Lord grant us the grace to receive forgiveness, and to forgive as we are forgiven.

Lord, hear us and help us.

Comfort all those who mourn, the troubled, and all who call upon you in their distress.

Lord, hear us and help us.

Guide the leaders of the nations and those who work for peace, and make us all subject to Christ’s just and gentle rule.

Lord, hear us and help us.


Holy God,

holy and strong,

holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.


O Lord, our maker and our strength,

from whose love in Christ we can never be parted

either by death or life:

Look in mercy on those for whom we pray this day,

and grant us your protection and peace,

that we may be saved in body and soul,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


As we ask for deliverance from the forces of destruction, so we pray in the words that Jesus gave us:


Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

for thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.


Coventry Litany of Reconciliation

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,

Father, forgive.

The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,

Father, forgive.

The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,

Father, forgive.

Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,

Father, forgive.

Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,

Father, forgive.

The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,

Father, forgive.

The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,

Father, forgive.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.


Further Prayers can be found in Common Worship Pastoral Services (2000)

  • Gathering Prayers, No 6 (p.347), No 7, (p348)
  • Prayers of Penitence, No 8 p.348–349, No 48, (p361)
  • Prayers of Thanksgiving for the Departed, No 18 (p351) No 24 (p353)
  • Prayers for those who mourn, No 35, No 38 (p357)
  • Prayers to live in the light of the Resurrection, Nos 51–53, 56, 57, 59, 60, (pp362–364)



  • All my hope on God is founded (NEH 333)
  • And did those feet in ancient time (NEH 488, A&M: H&S 576)
  • Extol the God of Justice (A&M:H&S 558)
  • For earth’s fragile beauties (NEP 648, A&M:H&S 526)
  • For the Healing of the Nations (A&M:H&S 635)
  • Forth in the peace of Christ we go (NEH 361)
  • God is Love: let heav’n adore him (NEH 364, A&M:H&S 644)
  • In a world where people walk in darkness (A&M:H&S 677)
  • I vow to thee my country (NEP 620, A&M:H&S 579)
  • It came upon the midnight clear (NEH 29, A&M:H&S 70)
  • Jesus Lives! Thy terrors now (NEH 112, A&M:H&S 207)
  • Jesus, Son of Mary (NEH 329, vss.2–4)
  • Judge eternal, throned in splendour (NEH 490, A&M:H&S 580)
  • Lord for the years (A&M:H&S 715)
  • Make me a channel of your peace (A&M:H&S 725)
  • O God of earth and altar (NEH 492, A&M:H&S 582)
  • O God, our help in ages past (NEH 417, A&M:H&S 746)
  • O Lord, all the world belongs to you (HO&N 509)
  • Pray that Jerusalem may have (NEH 441)
  • Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin (A&M:H&S 764)
  • The kingdom of God (CW 591)
  • Thy Kingdom come, O God (NEH 499, A&M:H&S 816)
  • To mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love (NEH 469)
  • We turn to you, O God of every nation (HO&N 725)
  • What shall we pray for those who died John Bell (Singing the Faith 721)


NEH = New English Hymnal

A&M:H&S = Ancient and Modern: Hymns and Songs

NEP = New English Praise

CP = Common Praise

HO&N = Hymns Old and New: Complete Anglican Edition



Here is a selection of music which was either written during the First World War or is evocative of that period:

Song settings

  • Song settings by W Denis Browne (1888–1915)
  • Song settings by George Butterworth (1885–1916)
  • Song settings by Ernest Farrar (1885–1918)
  • Song settings by Gerald Finzi (1901–1956)
  • Song settings by Ivor Gurney (1890–1937)
  • Song settings by Frederic Kelly (1881–1916)

An anthology of songs by these composers is available on the Hyperion recording WAR EMBERS CDD22026

  • Cyril Rootham (1875–1938)
  • Song settings of texts by Siegfried Sassoon (1919–21)

NB Many of the songs which seem particularly resonant of World War I set poems from A Shropshire Lad by A E Housman (1859–1936). These poems, published in 1896, acquired new popularity during the Second Boer War (1899–1902) and then again during World War I. However, many of the musical settings were made before the outbreak of the war. In addition to those included on the Hyperion recording (see above) these include:

  • Arthur Somervell (1863–1937) A Shropshire Lad (Housman setting 1904 – the first known musical setting)
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) On Wenlock Edge (Housman setting 1909)

Orchestral and Chamber Music

  • George Butterworth (1885–1916): Two English Idylls (1911), Rhapsody: A Shropshire Lad (1912), The Banks of Green Willow (1913)
  • Edward Elgar (1857–1934): Sospiri (1914), Violin Sonata (1917), String Quartet (1917), Piano Quintet (1919), Cello Concerto (1919)
  • Gerald Finzi (1901–1956): A Severn Rhapsody (1923)
  • Gustav Holst (1874–1934): The Planets (1914–16)
  • John Ireland (1879–1962): Trio in D minor for clarinet, cello and piano (1912–1914), Sonata No. 2 in A minor for violin and piano (1915–1917), Trio No. 2 in One Movement for violin, cello and piano (1917)
  • Ernest Moeran (1894–1950) First Rhapsody (1922)
  • Cyril Rootham (1875–1938): String Quartet in C (1914)
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958): A Lark Ascending (written 1914, just before the outbreak of the war), A Pastoral Symphony (performed 1922 but created out of the composer’s wartime experiences)

Choral works, anthems and church music

  • Edward Elgar (1857–1934): Give unto the Lord (1914), The Spirit of England (1917)
  • Herbert Howells (1892–1983): Here is the Little Door, A Spotless Rose and Sing Lullaby (1918)
  • Gustav Holst (1874–1934): A Dirge for Two Veterans for male voices, brass and percussion (1914), Nunc dimittis (1915), Turn back, O man (1916), Let all mortal flesh keep silence (1916), This have I done for my true love (1916), The Hymn of Jesus (1917)
  • John Ireland (1879–1962): Greater love (1912)
  • Hubert Parry (1848–1918): Songs of Farewell (1916–18)
  • Cyril Rootham (1875–1938): For the fallen for chorus and orchestra (1915)
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams: Lord, thou hast been our refuge (1921), Mass in G minor (performed 1922)
  • Henry Walford Davies (1869–1941): A Short Requiem for choir and organ (1915)
  • William Walton (1902–83):  A Litany (Drop, drop slow tears) (1916)
  • Healey Willan (1880–1968): O how they so softly rest (1917)

More recent settings of relevant texts

  • John Madden (b. 1956): We will remember them


  • Max Beckmann The Descent from the Cross, 1917
  • David Bomberg Study for Sappers at Work: A Canadian Tunnelling, Hill 60, St. Eloi, 1918–19
  • Muirhead Bone The Great Crater, 1917
  • Otto Dix The War Cycle, 1924
  • Otto Dix Stormtroopers advancing under gas, 1925
  • Jacob Epstein Risen Christ, begun in 1917
  • Charles Sargeant Jagger The First Battle of Ypres, 1918
  • Charles Sargeant Jagger The Kelham Rood, 1929
  • David Jones Jesus Mocked, 1922/23
  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Potsdamer Platz, 1914
  • Paul Klee Der grosse Kaiser, 1920
  • Henry Lamb Advance Dressing Station on the Struma, 1916, 1920
  • John Lavery A Convoy, North Sea, 1918
  • Percy Wyndham Lewis A Battery Shelled, 1919
  • Edwin Lutyens Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, 1927–32
  • Paul Nash Chaos Decoratif, 1917
  • Paul Nash Wire, 1918
  • Paul Nash The Void, 1918
  • Paul Nash The Mule Track, 1918
  • C R W Nevinson, La Patrie, 1916
  • Richard Nevinson La Mitrailleuse, 1916
  • Richard Nevinson, Paths of Glory, 1917
  • Stanley Spencer Travoys Arriving with Wounded at a Dressing Station at Smol, September 1916, 1918
  • Stanley Spencer Unveiling Cookham War Memorial, 1922
  • Stanley Spencer The Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere, 1927–32
  • Gilbert Spencer The Crucifixion, 1915
  • Henry Tonks An Advanced Dressing Station, 1918

(these images and works of art are easily found on the internet. Details of war artists and illustrations of their work can be found on the website of the Imperial War Museum at