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Candlelit service will mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 18, 2014

By Laura Hammond

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A CANDLELIT service at a church in Stretton is aiming to recreate the national mood at the time when the First World War was announced.

St Mary's Church will host the centenary service to coincide with the exact time that war broke in Europe, on August 4, 1914.

But rather than looking back in sadness because of the loss of life in the conflict, organisers have chosen to highlight the patriotism evident in the UK at the time.

Malcolm Goode, the historian and Stretton Parish Councillor behind the plans, told the Mail: "Sadness and remorse will come later in the commemorative period.

"The mood that very quickly permeated across Great Britain was one of excitement, amongst the menfolk certainly, and one of patriotic fervour, a chance to serve their king and country.

"To that end, this service has been devised to suit that mood, whilst also commemorating the enormity of the challenge that we, as a nation, faced."

The service will begin at 10pm on Monday, August 4, with the hymn I Vow to Thee My Country, before taking those gathered through news bulletins leading to the outbreak of war.

There will be recitals including the poem The Soldier, by Rupert Brooke, and extracts from the diaries of men serving in the war from the book Forgotten Voices of the Great War.

Burton vocalist Andy Last will perform two songs during the service, before it comes to an end when Stretton scout James Pickering extinguishes a final candle at 11pm.

This symbolic gesture will be replicated both outside the church and around the UK, as the lights are switched off to mark the occasion.

It highlights a statement made by the then foreign secretary Edward Grey, when he said: "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time."

At the National Memorial Arboretum, near Alrewas, a candlelight vigil will be taking place to mark the outbreak of war with Germany.

It will run from 5pm until 9pm at the Armed Forces Memorial at the heart of the arboretum. A service will take place at 8pm.

A spokesman for the site said: "It will commemorate all who served and sacrificed during the war.

"The moving service will include prayers, readings, music and poetry and will give visitors to the arboretum a rare opportunity to explore its beautiful grounds in the evening."

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