We shall not forget (website only)

We shall not forget the sacrifice of millions;
We shall not forget the bloodshed and the tears;
We shall not forget the loss of generations;
We shall not forget despite the passing of years.
Yet we shall walk on with courage
To a day when warfare will cease.
There will be a way all can flourish
When the bells ring out, ring out for peace.

We shall not forget the walls we build to separate;
We shall not forget the steps that lead to war;
We shall not forget the woundedness of all of us;
We shall not forget what only love can restore.
So we will work with humility
For a day when hatred will cease.
There will be an end to hostility
When the bells ring out, ring out for peace.

We shall not forget God’s mercy through the centuries;
We shall not forget the signs of hope in bloom;
We shall not forget Christ’s victory through suffering;
We shall not forget the life that burst from the tomb.
So we shall sing of salvation,
And the harmony will increase.
Healing will embrace every nation,
As the bells ring out, ring out for peace.

Words: © 2018 Andrew T. Murphy and Matt Allen

Music: © 2018 Matt Allen Download as a PDF

Metre: Irregular

Original tune (one verse only) Download clip as an MP3

Band version (three verses) Download clip as an MP3

Ideas for use

Unusually for a remembrance hymn, “We shall not forget” is well suited to accompaniment by a worship band. The “Band version” audio recording offers an idea of how this might sound, though many combinations of instruments would be possible. Chords are provided in the score.

The crotchet triplets in bars 4, 12, 18 & 22 are worth treating with care. They contribute to the interesting (almost ambiguous) tone of the music (see below), which holds echoes of a military march in tension with a more reflective mood. The temptation will be to sing these phrases as two quavers and a crotchet; think of them instead as gently applying the breaks to any inadvertent display of triumphalism.

More information

Though clearly written as a hymn of remembrance, this text doesn’t focus solely on World War One. Verse 2 opens our thinking to other examples of separation between nations and, indeed, within families. The final verse links us to the resurrection, which is the ultimate hope we have as Christians even in the face of war. In this way, Andrew weaves together traditional as well as more recent themes; this is by no means simply a “looking back” hymn.

Likewise, Matt Allen’s setting works to evoke varied, even conflicting, emotions. It alludes to military marches, but adopts a contemporary worship song style; it expresses hopeful joy, while also slipping in and out of a minor key that suggests concern, sadness and even uncertainty.

As we mark Remembrance Sunday (noting that this hymn was written in the year of the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1), perhaps the most challenging words in this hymn come in verse 2: “We shall not forget the steps that lead to war”. We recall that the seeds of WW2 were sown to a significant degree in the aftermath of the “Great War”, in particular in the decisions made at the Treaty of Versailles (signed on 28 June, 2019), in which none of the defeated nations had any say. This hymn responds with lines:

We shall not forget the woundedness of all of us;
We shall not forget what only love can restore.

This theme is picked up powerfully by Ruth Duck in God, how can we forgive (StF 613) and it’s worth exploring the hymns of Repentance and Forgiveness (StF 419-438) as well as other remembrance hymns.

Categories: Allen, Matt, Hymns on StF+, Hymns only online (submit to stfplus@methodistchurch.org.uk), Irregular, Murphy, Andrew T, Remembrance Sunday, Repentance and Forgiveness.

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