All around the UK bells will ring out on November 11th to mark 100 year since the end of first world war. In part this is to remember the impromptu response on that very day in 1918 as the armistice was declared and when church bells across the UK peeled out in celebration – war was over.
Many impromptu reactions happened that day. Crowds gathered outside the official home of the British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, 10 Downing Street, and they sang, “For he’s a jolly good fellow”. Lloyd George spoke to the gathering, “At eleven o’clock this morning the war will be over. We have won a great victory … and we are entitled to a bit of shouting.” Shortly afterwards the Mayor of London led the singing of the National Anthem and the Doxology, “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow”.
The following year the reactions turned from impromptu gatherings to the planned day of remembrance to mark the end of the armed conflict at 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. We still commemorate the 11th November, Remembrance Day, complete with 2 minutes of silence to remember the fallen.
100 years later we reflect on that day “war was over”. It was H. G. Wells who published a number of articles in London newspapers and that used the phrase, “the war to end war” and it became one of the most common catchphrases of the First World War.* Today we remember other major wars including the 2nd World War in which many Lutherans, amongst others, who fled the war-torn countries in Europe. Our congregations today are made up of families and descendants from both sides of the 1st and 2nd World Wars.
This year, on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the commemoration falls on a Sunday. In our 10:30 am worship we will include an act of remembrance including the 2 minutes silence. But there is more than our commemoration in morning worship on the 11th November, we are also gathering for a 3 pm Ecumenical Service for Peace to remember the hope of ending war, the hope of ending all wars, and the hope for peace.
Images: Newspaper Headlines from The Liverpool Echo 11 November 1918