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1919 : WORLD WAR I REMEMBERED IN HYMNODY

The First World War came to an end on 11th November 1918 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The devastation and loss of life witnessed by Europe was unprecedented and provoked a reaction from all forms of artistic expression, including hymnody, as people grappled with coming to terms with the war. John Stanhope Arkwright (a British politician) published the text of a hymn entitled ‘O Valiant Hearts’ in 1919. The text has strong patriotic overtones, but nonetheless acknowledges the supreme sacrifice made by those who died, and asserts strongly the belief that through Christ there is life everlasting. It has appeared in many hymnals and is often sung at services during the period of Remembrance each year. The most popular tune for it has been THE SUPREME SACRIFICE written by Charles Harris in 1919, but the text has also had tunes written for it by Ralph Vaughan Williams (an arrangement of a traditional tune named VALOUR) and Gustav Holst (VALIANT HEARTS).

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