Sermons of the Great War: can we learn from reading what was said from wartime pulpits?

A journey through local newspapers during the years from 1914 to 1918 makes for interesting reading. Towards the end of the First World War an Anglican clergyman in Co Down, delivered a sermon which sounds reasonable to the modern ear. Aware that the bloody conflict was coming to a close, he extolled the patriotism of his hearers, arguing that this spirit had contributed to the victory that lay just around the corner, but he added his endorsement of the sentiments of Edith Cavell, the heroic nurse who had been executed by the Germans for helping Belgian soldiers to escape. Cavell had declared that ‘patriotism is not enough’ and that one must have no hatred in one’s heart for anyone. The clergyman went on to declare that ‘the love of humanity’ is a vital characteristic for the Christian and that the ‘brotherhood of man in Christ’ is vital for healed world. Continue reading