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WW1 Centenary Commemoration

An all-age service to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 on 4 August 1914. This service is appropriate for use at any time until the centenary of the end of the war.

Click on the image for a larger view. Click on the PDF link at the bottom of this page to find a PDF of the complete service. Some items from the service have been pulled out and included on this page.



Voices of 1914-1918: Wartime letters

The service suggests drawing upon the correspondence of serving soldiers and their families to help worshippers get in touch with the experience and feelings of those involved at the fronts and at home. The text of the service offers some examples but letters or diaries may be available from church members or others involved in planning. There are also many examples available in literature:

  • Letters from a Lost Generation is a collection of correspondence between Vera Brittain and her brother, fiancée and two other friends. Mark Bostridge and Alan Bishop (eds.) Virago, 2008, ISBN 978 1844085705
  • Michael Morpurgo’s novel Private Peaceful offers fictional examples. Harper Collins Children's Books, 2004, ISBN 978-0007150076


We offer here words from wartime letters found and collated by the Caddington Local History Group. You could also use letters in the possession of your own local families or material found in literature. Invite a variety of people to read the material you select, to reflect the diversity of those caught up in the global conflict.


10 April 1917

Dear Florrie, The weather here is also very rough and snowy. Today is very rough, hail and snow storms but I am off work today so I am quite comfortable in the old hut. I got mum’s parcel with the chocs and plum pudding last night, so I am going to hot up a slice presently and put some milk on – it will be extra nice.


26 October 1917

As I hinted in my last letter we have been on the move so that I could not get a letter through for a day or two. I can tell you that the marching about with everything to carry is no joke. We had a short train ride then a fairly long march to another old village and quite a different part of the country. The weather just now is abominable – wet and miserable. Yesterday I was one of a party working  for an old French farmer. 


A letter from a vicar to one of his parishioners at the front: 

Your mother always finishes any news about the war with the remark ‘I wish it were all over’ – a common remark, but she says it in such a tone that it resembles a prayer. 


(Letters from John Swain and his family and the Revd William Duckworth © Caddington Local History Group. Used with permission.)


Reading Isaiah 49.13-19

Divide the congregation into two parts:

A: the voice of the prophet, and B: the cry of the people.


A: Sing heavens, shout for joy, earth!
Let the mountains burst into song!
The Lord will comfort his people,
he will have pity on his suffering people.


B: The Lord has abandoned us! He has forgotten us.


A: Can a woman forget her own baby,
and not love the child she bore?
Even if a mother should forget her child,
I will never forget you.


B: The Lord has abandoned us! He has forgotten us.


A: Jerusalem, I can never forget you!

I have written your name on the palms of my hands.


B: The Lord has abandoned us! He has forgotten us.


A: Those who will rebuild you are coming soon,
and those who destroyed you will leave.
Look around and see what is happening!
Your people are assembling. They are coming home.

(Taken from the Good News Bible.)



Gathering prayer

God, our heavenly King, you made each one of us to be like you and blessed us with the rich and fruitful earth.
You gave humanity responsibility for the good ordering and wellbeing of the world.
Inspire us to work for a world of peace and justice where all may experience the power of your love.


A prayer for those afflicted by war

Lord Jesus, you knew the loneliness of fear: hold in your hand those who fear for their lives, those who live in places of violence.
Help us to bring comfort to the oppressed, and compassion to those who suffer, so they may hear the song of love which triumphs over evil.


A prayer for forgiveness

Lord God, we come to you in sorrow and sadness.
Forgive us for the part we play in a world which is greedy for land, resources and possessions.
Forgive us when we fail to reach out with friendship and acceptance.
Forgive us when we long for status and fail to put the needs of others first.
Forgive our support of might instead of right, aggression instead of reconciliation.
Forgive us when we take the easy way out, instead of valiantly standing for truth and justice.


A prayer for peace

Invite the congregation to hold in the palm of their hands the white feather they were given on arrival. White feathers were given to those who did not volunteer. They were an accusation of cowardice. We acknowledge this harsh treatment. But white feathers remind us, too, of doves, a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit, you hovered over the world as order came from chaos.
Bring order to the chaos of this world.
Send us peace.

Holy Spirit, you came to the disciples gathered in fear in the Upper Room.
Inspire and excite us when we are faced with change.
Send us peace.

Holy Spirit, you enabled the disciples to speak in many languages.
Give us gifts of communication across the nations.
Send us peace.

Holy Spirit, giver of life and love,
help us to build your Church, and your world,
with the gifts of gentleness, self-control, love, joy and peace.


The prayers may conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.


Sending out prayer

Be strong, be courageous.
Children of all nations, you are one family of love and hope,
led home by God who will be with you wherever you go.
We go, to serve the Lord.
He is our God.

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