The Bishop of London led prayers of remembrance across the capital this weekend as the country marked Remembrance Sunday and the centenary of the Armistice. London paid tribute to the sacrifice made by those British and Commonwealth servicemen and women killed and injured in the two world wars and other, more recent conflicts.
The centenary of the Armistice marking the end of the First World War has been particularly poignant as it coincided with Remembrance Sunday on 11th November.
The Bishop led the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, attended by Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales and other dignitaries, including the Prime Minister and over 700 representatives of the Armed Forces.
There, following a volley fired by the First World War era guns of Royal Horse Artillery, they observed the two minutes of silence and laid wreaths of remembrance at the foot of the Cenotaph. The Bishop then led the congregation in a short service and blessing, which was closed by the sounding of the last post and then followed by a parade of thousands of veterans and servicemen, who marched down Whitehall and took the salute from HRH The Princess Royal.
The ceremony at the Cenotaph was but one of countless services which took place across the Diocese of London this Sunday, which fell silent as churches and organisations held their own services of remembrance to honour the country’s war dead.
St Bride’s Church on Fleet Street recognised this significant anniversary by holding a pulpit exchange with the Protestant Evangelische Church of St Paul’s in Lichterfelde, Berlin. The Rector of St Bride’s, the Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce, travelled to St Paul’s Church, where she preached in German, while her place at St Bride’s was filled by Lutheran Pastor Barbara Neubert.
Canon Joyce’s grandfather served in the trenches and survived the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Her father, a Royal Naval Reserve officer, was held as a Prisoner of War in Germany during the Second World War, having survived a torpedo attack in March 1943 and been captured by a passing German patrol boat. 75 years later, Canon Joyce has visited Germany in vastly changed circumstances.
As well as a time to reflect on the horrors of war, this pulpit exchange symbolises and exemplifies the continuing work of building lasting peace and understanding between previously warring nations and people.
The ceremony included the Last Post, Act of Remembrance and wreath laying, and the church choir was joined by the St Bride’s Orchestra in a liturgical setting of the Duruflé Requiem Mass.
The Parish of Poplar, All Saints and St. Nicholas, conducted a Remembrance Service in Billingsgate Fish Market, a close neighbour of the Parish. The service, which has become a tradition and a significant event in the calendar for the Parish and the Market, serves to demonstrate the unifying power of remembrance.
The service included a short ‘said’ liturgy of remembrance and a two-minute silence signalled by the ringing of the Market’s bell. This was followed by the laying of wreaths at the memorial plaque commemorating Market workers who have died in war.