Remembering with a purpose

In Flanders Fields installation at Dover, UK Legion, 2017

The news plasters us with the most horrific things humanity is capable of doing to itself or to the planet, our only home. I am so occupied by its normalcy that when upbeat, “trifling” stories hit the airwaves, I snark and change the channel, rolling my eyes at the insignificance of what is being explored. It is as though we need to be drenched in our own blood before we can really feel like we’re getting the truth about anything. News outlets know this and wave the bloodstained stories before us, knowing we will eagerly catch the scent and follow.

This Sunday we are recognizing Remembrance Day at West Hill. Tomorrow is, in fact, the day, but our community will gather around the theme “The stories we tell and don’t tell.” How quickly we have gone from having several World War II vets in our congregation to one sole survivor. Her story has not touched our ears. She simply shakes her head and refuses to speak of it. One of our deceased vets, until the day he died, continued to wake in the night screaming, his wife reaching out to soothe him year after year after year.

Earlier this year, I wrote this song for one of our Dream Away (Easter) services but neglected to post it here. We will sing it this Sunday.  Rex Hunt very generously posted it on the Uniting Church forum in Australia.

May We Cast the Vision
Tune: King’s Weston, Ralph Vaughn Williams
Traditional Hymn: At the Name of Jesus, Every Knee Shall Bow

Are we not still dreaming
of a world of peace,
where all live in freedom
and all hatred’s ceased?
Are we not still hoping
for a fair new day,
one for which all suffering
long before did fade?

Have we not the knowledge
that can feed each child,
shelter ev’ry family,
nations reconcile?
Have we not the wisdom
to look back and see
all that’s come between us
throughout history?

Can we not be faithful
to the call of love;
all it builds between us,
is that not enough?
Can we not find reasons
to reach out and share –
all we own, together –
all because we care?

On this day, we’re dreaming
of a world made bright,
freed from all its sorrows,
living into light.
May we feel the courage
stirring deep within.
May we cast the vision
and this work begin.

2017 gretta vosper

UK Legion installation at Dover, 2017. Click on photo to view article on this moving tribute.


Please feel free to use it in your own setting. All my work is copyrighted with a Creative Copyright License which allows you to use it or adapt it for a singing audience, as long as you properly attribute it. You are merely prevented from publishing it in any way without my consent. In other words, sing away.



8 thoughts on “Remembering with a purpose

  1. garuba fredericks

    This is filled with inspiration, i have been pondering on these lines all evening, i just love it..

    1. Gretta Vosper Post author

      Thank you, Garuba. My congregation was heartily dismayed by the tune, unfortunately! I learned EVERY tune in our hymnbook as a youngster because our organist impressed them all upon us. So when I choose a hymn I am sure others will know, I am often wrong. And this one was so unknown that people were cringing. Scott has vowed to write me a new tune to it. I’ll share it when it is done!

  2. Paul Greco

    For many years I have felt that WHU would be the perfect place to re-enact Mark Twain’s “The Prayer”.

    1. Gretta Vosper Post author

      Too true. And Remembrance Day would be the day to do it. In truth, however, we would do well to explore Twain’s philosophy of prayer in theological college. There, exposing ourselves to the depths inherent in what we pray for could be a strongly formative process. Thanks. For those of you who are not familiar with Twain’s The War Prayer, here’s a link to an old PBS dramatization of it:
      For further reading, you might enjoy Twain’s Letters from Earth.

  3. Paul Greco

    Wow! The ramifications of studying anything of Mark Twain in theological college is beyond mind boggling. Students might get exposed to:
    “The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible.”
    “It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood drenched history;
    And some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.”
    “If Jesus were alive today, the last thing he’d be is a Christian.”
    This could shake the foundations of the religious establishment bent on the self preservation of the priestly class. There would be a fear similar to what I saw in the eyes of a prominent Mennonite CEO who declined to offer white poppies to his employees.
    Would there be a deafening rending of garments by the Sanhedrin(s) of the almost 30,000 splintered denominations of “orthodox Christianity” in North America … to see it all collapse, and then to see it emerge as the church that you already have?
    It brings a whole new meaning to “Surprised by Joy”. Yikes, I’ve got a headache. Methinks I’ve had too much to think.

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