Vigils on the centenary of Britain entering the First World War

In 2013 the Central Council PR Committee published an article informing ringers of the government’s plan to make the centenary of the First World War into a major series of events. It included the views of other organisations, notably the Church and the British Legion, and sought feedback from ringers.

The second article, published in October, summarised the feedback and concluded that the focus for ringing should be local events, with the possible exception of Armistice day in 2018. This view was shared with the department of Culture Media and Sport, which is responsible for co-ordinating the government’s programme. Ringing to mark the start of the war was contentious, and it was felt that any local ringing should be sombre in nature. At the time of writing it was known that there would be a late night vigil in Westminster Abbey on 4th August without ringing but no other events were known.

Since the article was written, the Church of England has produced a form of service for a vigil on 3rd or 4th August. The flexibility of the date allows parishes that wish to hold a vigil to choose whether to do so on the Sunday (3rd), or on the Monday (4th). It is available on the Church website.

Ringers should establish whether their church is planning to hold a vigil on either day and if so should discuss with their priest what role if any would be appropriate for bells before or during the vigil. Half muffled ringing before could be appropriate, and slow tolling a bell for a short period when each candle is extinguished might also be appropriate, but these are decisions to be made together with local clergy, not dictated centrally.

CCCBR PR Committee

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers