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Extracts from Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour 1914-1919

THE FOREWORD.

The Right Rev. Major-General John M. Simms C.B., C.M.G., D.D.J.I.D., K.H.C.<br />
Principal Chaplain 1914-1919<br />
Moderator of the General Assembly 1919-1920

WAR OF THE WORLD: a ruthless horde forswear
Agreements that themselves had signed and sealed ;
Reverted to the plane of primal Hun,
They hurl the brand, deal the assassin's stroke,
They terrorise the weak, profane the Home,
Degrade it to the kennel and the stye.
They mock the wounded, mutilate the child:
They shell the Hospital by land and sea,
And, at distress of strugglers on the wave,
Raise the insensate laughter of the fiend,
Defiant of the laws of earth and HEAVEN;
Eclipsing Attila, "the scourge of GOD,"
Their paragon in deeds nefarious
Which demons only were supposed to do.
They turn to dust the spoils of Time, they quench
The lamp that centuries had trimmed:
Liége, Bruxelles, Mons, Rheims, Louvain recall
The fate of Alexandria, what time
Her priceless parchments fed the fires that served
Her public baths for half-a-year. For this
The centuries since then have mourned: and what
This Christian century has seen the race
Of men, who have not forfeited the right
To be accounted human, shall deplore.

HEREIN are those who shared the great defence
Raised as a rampart 'gainst the fatal tide
That jeopardised the Freedom at the World,
And drew its dreaded course towards the Home
And all for which it stood in Days of Peace.

THEY left the harvest and their fathers' fields,
They kissed their mothers, sisters, lovers, wives;
Yielded their love of liberty and life
To rule of Camp -- then hurtling bolts of death.
The men of skill in every craft stood forth,
And sons of humbler toil, as brave in heart,
Awaited not the second call to arms.
From loom and mart, from mine and forge they flocked
As to their windows doves: as drops of dew
Obey the signal of th' awakening Morn
And countless stand resplendent in array:
As Highland clan that saw the Fiery Cross
And heard the blood-call, and an army rose
Out of the ground and sped to trysting-place.
So from Dominion of the West, from 'neath
The Southern Cross, from whence the British Flag
In silken folds floats o'er the Commonwealth,
As volunteers of GOD'S great Host to help
Of Motherland they come to save mankind:--
In Flanders and in France, in Pharaoh's land,
And in the cradle of the race, and where
The Aegean plied its fatal lure, and where
Olympus viewed a fallen race and King
Perfidious on classic seat, and where
The CHRIST pursued His high campaign to set
The captive free, the Spoiler's pow'r o'erthrow
And bring assurance to the heart that LOVE
Shall triumph in the end and reign for aye.
They never failed their leader, never quailed
In face at hopeless task: nay, oft surpassed
Command, achieving "the impossible."
And now a lowly bed, a Cross perchance
With poppies and with roses red, token
Of richer harvests from their sacrifice,
Are all that's seen by outer eye; but yet
Their deeds shall live in storied page and song
Whilst love of Freedom lives and Time endures.

THEY left the Academic Halls and laid
The scholar's promise by, left Brief and Bar.
Exchanged the Forum for the Camp: they left
The School of Aesculap, the microscope.
The rostrum and the desk, and grasped the sword.
They drew their comrades to the ranks and called them
Brothers, whom they led and whom they loved.
With whom they shared their comforts and their gifts;
Transformed the erstwhile name of "Officers,"
Who boasted that they were not "Soldiers," and
Whose boast was true!
They leaped the parapet
And faced the rain of death and gained the end
Assigned by high command, without a trace
Of fear save for their men: they hid the wounds
Themselves received and soothed the pain of hurt
In others, and rejoiced as one by one
Returned and answered call.
The hero of the strife,
The youth with shoulder-strap and single Star:
The second Star was won and then the Cross
By valour matchless -- so despatch declared --
And onward still he strove from Star to Star.
We pictured him receiving from the King
The badge of merit, in his early Home
Congratulations of his friends, and then
The Day of Peace and honours it would bring.
He passed instead into his FATHER'S House
Above -- a smile upon his face, a word
Of fond farewell upon his lips that moved
As if to tell discharge had come, had heard
The CAPTAIN'S call. Short was the step to rest
Of hand and heart and brain and eye and ear.
Him now we see white-robed, the palm-decked Cross
Exchanged for Crown, rejoicing in the life
Immortal and the strength that never fails.

THEY left the cure of souls in fitting hands,
Exchanged the Gown and Bands for uniform.
And with the benison of Mother-Church
They served their Brother in command of all
Who bore the Maltese Cross. They cheered the men
With Prayer and Psalm and with familiar word,
That stirred the echoes of a hallowed past
And girded for the final test: they mourned
The dead, and message sent to hearts bereaved
That made them thankful for a hero's death
And service rendered to a sacred cause.
They proved as valiant as the combatant,
And shared with him the honours of the field.
Apollo's shafts the Dragon slew, they said,
In Greece when Greece was wise: the sons
of Aesculap the Dragon slew with beams of light,
Evoked from crucible of darksome toil,
And won by eager searchers for the Truth;
And health preserved amid the countless host
Of foes unseen, and healed the septic wound,
Assuaging pain with tenderness and skill,
Soldiers as brave as served in Britain's day,

TO EVERY MAN his work, the Scripture saith:
According to their bent or whither told --
Some served on wing and eyes supplied on sea
And shore: and other some, as playthings of the deep,
Submerged at will and won a vantage ground
From whence to deal the unexpected stroke:
And some as silent watchers on the wave
Forestalled the impending raid and swept the main
Of boasted Fleet and brigand ship: of some
The burden was of troops, of staff of life
To man and beast -- a burden nobly borne
By Service Corps: and never multitudes
In field or camp fared half so well as they.

THE LADY OF THE LAMP outlives the storm
That swept o'er Euxine's troubled marge: her light
Glows brighter with the years and leads a train
Of sisters dedicate to high emprise --
To heal the wounds that man inflicts on man,
Cut soothing shadows on the couch of pain,
To quicken hearts by touch of human love
That gives assurances of LOVE DIVINE;
And bid the hopeless be of hope and live.
Of all the forms that moved upon that stage
So tragic from the first to last, so fraught
With fateful blundering. she wears the palm
For vision clear, for voice creative, and
For skill to snatch a triumph from defeat,
And wrest his trophies from the god of war,
The Lady of the Lamp stands first of all.
She led a train who followed in her steps
And multiplied her presence and her smile,
That brought both life and hope to broken men
Full five-and-sixty years ago.

AND WOMEN who remained at home found means
To serve in divers ways, they turned the thread
To uses manifold their love inspired;
They organised their sisters into bands
And companies that week by week despatched
Their gifts to Trench and Camp and Hospital
And those who suffered in captivity:
As sweet as manna they, fragrant as herbs
In garden of their childhood far away.

AND IN THE HOLY PLACE the CHURCH at home
Made earnest pleading, wrestling in the fight;
And souls elect ne'er failed to meet at hour
Of week-night prayer to sing their Hymn and leave
Their loved ones 'neath the care of boundless HEAVEN.

The ANCIENT ORDINANCE gave equal share
To those who went to battle and to those
Who stayed where duty kept them,
As they guarded what was there to guard
And to prepare to welcome back again
The weary warriors to hearths still lit
And warmed with glow of love and gratitude;
So those who worked at home and prayed and kept
The hearth a-light, and those who longed to go
And were debarred by Providence but nursed
The soldier-spirit in their hearts, have share
Alike with those who marched with bannered host
And fought, whom now we hail as our defence
In danger's hour. To GOD be praise for all!

J. M.

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The Roll of Honour contains over 24,000 names. For various reasons it is far from complete. Several congregations made no returns, while others were late in commencing to keep a register, with the result that names were not recorded. In large industrial populations, especially in Belfast, large numbers of Presbyterian young men joined the colours who were not identified with Church life, and whose names therefore did not find their way to our congregational lists. It is calculated that probably 2,000 names are wanting, so that our representation in the great line of defence numbered above 26.000 men.

In the preparation of the Roll the Church owes a debt of gratitude to Miss Jean Craig, of the Historical Society, for her patient, persistent labour in collecting, revising, and classifying the various congregational lists and for correcting the proofs; and to the Rev. John Macmillan. D.D., for the above suitable Foreword.

W. J. BAIRD, CONVENER.

A. G. CRAWFORD, } Hon. SECS., J. W. KERNOHAN, } PRESBYTERIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

 

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