Remembrace Sunday service in Little Rock to honor fallen service members

At left, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 310 W. 17th St., Little Rock, is shown in an undated file photo. At right, a passage from "In Flanders Fields" is shown in a 1921 printing. The poem, which was written in 1915, will be read during a Remembrance Sunday service at the cathedral on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. (Left, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo; right, public domain photo)

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock will have a Remembrance Sunday service this weekend honoring members of the armed forces who have died defending their country.

It's the third straight year the church has marked the occasion, and it is seems to have taken root there.

"I think it has become an annual thing," said Colin MacKnight, the cathedral's director of music.

Similar observances are being held the same day in the United Kingdom and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth nations.

Remembrance Sunday is held on the Sunday closest to Nov. 11, the day in 1918 that fighting ceased on the Western Front near the close of World War I.

In London, services are held at Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral. Across Great Britain, people observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. -- the precise time the Armistice began -- to honor the fallen.

The Little Rock service will include two minutes of silence as well.

Rooted, as it is, in the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal service will include hymns well loved in England, though unfamiliar to many Americans.

"I Vow to Thee My Country," which was heard at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, will be sung. So will "Jerusalem," which was used at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Written by poet William Blake and set to music by Hubert Parry, it references a trip Jesus is said to have taken from Israel to the British Isles.

Parry wrote the music in 1916 as the battles raged. "I Vow to Thee, My Country" pairs poetry by Sir Cecil Spring Rice with music from the Jupiter movement of Gustav Holst's "The Planets," composed between 1914 and 1917.

It dates to the early 1920s.

"Both of those are very English, and they're kind of unofficial national anthems for England," MacKnight said.

The United States lost more than 116,000 service members in the Great War.

In Great Britain, there's a tribute to the fallen in parishes across the country.

Between 1914 and 1918, no hamlet or village was spared. More than 885,000 servicemen died -- about 6% of the country's adult male population -- according to the House of Commons Library.

In Little Rock, the cathedral choir will perform Gabriel Faure's Requiem. Last year, it performed Maurice Duruflé's Requiem.

"The Faure Requiem, I think, is a little bit calmer, and [places] slightly less emphasis on the dark parts of the Requiem text about the gates of hell and things like that. They use the same text but Faure sets those texts in a gentler way," MacKnight said.

The service features a reading of "In Flanders Fields" a poem written in 1915 by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force who died in January 1918.

There'll also be a passage recited from Laurence Binyon's 1914 poem, "For the Fallen." It says: "They shall not grow 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."

If you go: The Remembrance Sunday service will be held at 4 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 310 W. 17th St., Little Rock.