“All you had hoped for, all you had, you gave”

Richard, one of our volunteers, writes the following… 

Sometimes we are asked to identify the source of inscription on war memorials: Rupert Brooke’s ‘red sweet wine of youth’ comes to mind.

I have been reading The Winter of the World: Poems of the First World War, the useful new anthology edited by Dominic Hibberd and John Onions and came across some familiar lines:

“All you had hoped for, all you had, you gave
To save Mankind- yourselves you scorned to save.”

They appear on 13 memorials on our database, and are from ‘The Supreme Sacrifice’, a hymn in the metre and rhyme scheme of ‘Abide with Me’ by J S (later Sir John) Arkwright (1872-1954). The editors comment that it was ‘regularly sung at Remembrance Day services – until the 1950s, when it began to be condemned as sentimental, even unchristian, for its implied faith in salvation by death in war.’

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