HYMN: For the Men at the Front
Lord God of Hosts, whose mighty hand
Dominion holds on sea and land,
In Peace and War Thy Will we see
Shaping the larger liberty.
Nations may rise and nations fall,
Thy Changeless Purpose rules them all.
When Death flies swift on wave or field,
Be Thou a sure defence and shield!
Console and succour those who fall,
And help and hearten each and all!
O, hear a people's prayers for those
Who fearless face their country's foes!
For those who weak and broken lie,
In weariness and agony--
Great Healer, to their beds of pain
Come, touch, and make them whole again!
O, hear a people's prayers, and bless
Thy servants in their hour of stress!
For those to whom the call shall come
We pray Thy tender welcome home.
The toil, the bitterness, all past,
We trust them to Thy Love at last.
O, hear a people's prayers for all
Who, nobly striving, nobly fall!
To every stricken heart and home,
O, come! In tenderest pity, come!
To anxious souls who wait in fear,
Be Thou most wonderfully near!
And hear a people's prayers, for faith
To quicken life and conquer death!
For those who minister and heal,
And spend themselves, their skill, their zeal--
Renew their hearts with Christ-like faith,
And guard them from disease and death.
And in Thine own good time, Lord, send
Thy Peace on earth till Time shall end!
- John Oxenham
Interpretation: This poem is a prayer for the lives lost, and those still fighting on the Western Front. It is hopeful that those boys will come home soon from the ruthlessness and brutality of war. The poem also contains patriotism, which is expressing that even though lives had been lost, they still have faith that those lives would not have been lost in vain.
About the Poet: This is the pseudonym of William Dunkerley, a store owner who wrote this poem for his church during the First World War. He was a religious man, and there is not much information on him because he is not very well-known.
Connection to Vic High: During the time of the Great War, Vic High was more patriotic than any other school in Canada, but Victoria as a city had more men enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force than anywhere in Canada. Many students had dropped out during war time to fight amongst the soldiers from the mother country, and to protect the country in this dangerous battle against Germany. At this time, Canada was not an autonomous country from Britain. Despite being a young dominion, many men across the country – even young men from Vic High were prepared to confront the fray and sacrifice their lives, but also put their lives on the line in the name of peace.