A Liturgy of Remembrance for Memorial Day

Recorded, edited and produced by Christian (Ian) Tulungen

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Order of Service

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.

Prelude:  Variations on the “Navy Hymn” Michael Joseph with Steven Young on the St Martin’s Organ

Welcome, The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “Let all the world in every corner sing” George Herbert’s poem set to music by R. Vaughan Williams as part of his Five Mystical Song Cycle. Sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort, Gabe Alfieri, St Martin’s Choral Director accompanied by Steven Young, St Martin’s Organist

Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
“My God and King!”
The heav’ns are not too high,
God’s praise may thither fly;
the earth is not too low,
God’s praises there may grow.
Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
“My God and King!”

2 Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
“My God and King!”
The church with psalms must shout:
no door can keep them out.
But, more than all, the heart
must bear the longest part.
Let all the world in ev’ery corner sing,
“My God and King!”

Hymn 578 vv 1&3 St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with human hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf .

Alleluia. Christ the Lord has ascended to the heavens: Come let us adore him. Alleluia!

Collect for Purity

The Trisagion : S102, sung by St John’s Girls Octet, St John’s Orthodox Church, Warren, Ohio

The Collect for Heroic Service

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision gave their lives for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: The Book of Wisdom, 3:1-5,9 read by Lauren Hill

Psalm 46, pg 649 BCP sung by Lori Istok, staff soprano

Second Reading: The Book of Revelation, 21:2-7 read by Sarosh Fenn

Gradual Hymn: 719, “O beautiful for spacious skies vv1&2, St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

The Gospel: John 10:11-16 proclaimed by Linda+

Gradual Hymn: 719 v3

The Sermon: “To Remember in 2020”, Mark+ (a stand alone recording and text appear below together with a Memorial Day tribute “I vow to thee my country”)

The Nicene Creed: (pg 358 BCP) -(we recite together)

The Anthem:  J.A. Korman, “Pie Jesu” sung by Jacob Chippo, staff tenor, with Gabe Alfieri, baritone and Steven Young organ

Prayers of the People: led by Linda+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving (pg 101 BCP)

The Peace

Final Hymn: 307 “Lord enthroned in heavenly splendor” sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with organ

Easter Blessing

The Postlude: Fugue on “America” (Second Sonata)  W. Eugene Thayer with Steven Young playing

Mark+’s stand alone sermons and youtube tribute for Memorial Day “I vow to thee my country”

To Remember in 2020

The calendar cycles through. The yearly cycle of the calendar rolls alongside the annual cycle of the church’s kalendar; both herald the passage of the year’s progress; both signal the passing of time.

Time, so often appearing to move in a straight line from past through present to future, is in reality also a cycle. The months of the year commemorate the cycling through of festivals and seasons.

We arrive at the Memorial Day Weekend, which falls at the same place in the calendar’s cycle as it did last year. Since the 1968 passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May, creating a three-day weekend for federal employees – and now many others- with the last Monday designated as a federal holiday.

Each year we arrive at the same place, i.e. the Memorial Day Weekend. Yet, with each revolution of the cycle the context of our arrival changes. We arrive at the Memorial Day Weekend in 2020 – within the contextual game changer of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The Memorial Day Weekend still betokens the promises of summer. Each year we arrive at this three-day holiday in a state of some exhaustion. We are exhausted by the long, grueling New England winter; exhausted by an unremitting workaholic culture that despite its rhetoric despises and works against the interests of an effective work-life balance for the majority of workers. Our kids arrive at the end of the academic year exhausted by an outdated culture of teaching to tests, aided and abetted by helicopter parental anxiety that results in overscheduling and piling stress upon stress upon our children and teens.

Therefore, the three-day weekend is a godsend for many of us, the first intimation of the change of pace as we wind down into summer; a season pregnant with the promise for families and friends of badly needed time for recreation.

Although in a normal year amidst the excitement of summer, beaches, and barbeques – the Memorial Day Weekend also commemorates a more solemn theme. Memorial Day is a day for remembering – a day of remembrance – an invitation to a grateful nation to honor the men and women who have paid with their lives the ultimate sacrifice in our service.

But this year we arrive at the three-day holiday after the three month lock-down that has seen all our lives changed – perhaps unalterably changed by the sudden plunge into fear, grief, and an acute uncertainty that leaves none of us unscathed.

The context in 2020 profoundly mutes our longing to celebrate the official arrival of summer. The annual commemoration of the fallen in 2020 carries the painful poignancy of finding ourselves embroiled in a different but equally deadly kind of war. The fallen in this war are not only names from the distant or more recent theatres of war in far flung places. They are the names of healthcare workers and first responders; of teachers and unsung service-sector workers upon whom we find ourselves even more reliant to keep us in our much reduced lives; they are the names of those who have sacrificed their lives by simply doing their jobs in the war against the virus. These are the names of the newly fallen who have given their lives in our service.

And so, in 2020, the commemoration of the nation’s fallen in war evokes added emotional complexities. The great national emergencies of the First and Second World Wars alongside the Korean War make it easy to feel proud of our experience of war because these wars were fought in pursuit of a noble cause, with victorious outcomes. However, the Vietnam War together with today’s continuous low level conflict in the Middle East evoke more ambivalent feelings in us about the merits of war. It is yet too early to assess the longer-term impact of the virus’ effects on our collective remembrances.

Today, Memorial Day, we are newly mindful of the fault-lines that lacerate our society. As in former years we are aware of a largely hidden veteran presence among us; a population of minds and bodies scarred by the trauma of war no longer as an epic struggle involving the whole nation, but of war as an interminable state of low level conflict the brunt of which is born by members of racially and economically deprived sections of society. So it is with the virus. Across the land, the Coronavirus strikes at the heart of poor, black and hispanic communities. In a just published statistic from Kansas one third of deaths are among the black community which makes up only 5% of the State’s population.

The virus is forcing us to confront these systemic indicators of racial and economic injustice as never before, challenging us to the urgent need for a society-wide new deal.

In 1912, Sir Cecil Spring Rice was appointed British Ambassador to the United States. He was hugely influential in persuading Woodrow Wilson to commit to America’s entry into the Great War. In 1918 he was recalled to Britain. Before he left he penned the words to the text that became the poem  I vow to thee my country. Rice’s words were later set by Gustav Holst to the hymn tune Thaxted, taken from the Jupiter Movement of his Planets Suite.

The two verses of the poem are juxtaposed, voicing the tension between love of country and love of God. In contemporary America we have conflated love of country with love of God to disastrous effect.

In his first verse, Rice penned:

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice
.

We are newly mindful of the tragic consequences for the fabric of The Republic and for the integrity of our democracy of the love that asks no question; of a love that over and over again manifestly fails to stand the test; that is too swift to lay upon the altar the dearest and the best, heedless of the consequences.

Remembrance of the casualties of traditional war alongside the remembrance for the casualties from the virus war reminds us of the love that never falters, of the love that pays the price – for a chronic lack of preparedness, for federal neglect of national leadership and a partisan disregard for the common good.

We are no longer so confident that the recent sacrifices – be they of the continued sacrifice of our young men and women in the theatres of low level conflict – or in the ER’s and nursing homes of a largely for profit health care system that has built shining medical edifices as temples to technology while denigrating the vital networks of public health-care provision built up over generations to deal with the very crisis that leaves far from undaunted the final sacrifice.

However, in the second verse Rice’s tone shifts:

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

The love that leads women and men to sacrifice their lives in war; the love shown by countless doctors, nurses, healthcare and support workers; the love shown by first responders, and service sector workers – leads them to sacrifice their lives in the line of simply doing their job in the face of the onslaught of the virus .

With gratitude we remember those who willingly – yet never forget regrettably – have been called upon to give their lives simply because they were unfortunate enough to live in a time when this sacrifice was asked of them. We must never forget that their loss is also our loss for:

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

John Donne

In our countless acts of remembrance on this year’s Memorial Day, let us confront the urgent need to redouble our commitment to working tirelessly to ensure that our future – the world of our children and their children will not be a mere repetition of our doleful and shameful past.

And of the fallen?

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. 

For the Fallen, Robert Laurence Binyon

If you are not a regular St Martin’s supporter of we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing

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