For the first time in many, many years I went to the Dawn Service at the Cenotaph in Royal Park this morning. I was staggered to find nearly every parking spot in the Launceston CBD already taken – at 5:45 am! – and had to park opposite Holy Trinity (half a mile away), whence I walked smartly so as to arrive in time for the start of proceedings at 6 am.
The RSL chaplain took as his text Psalm 26(27):3-4, “If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. If a battle should rise up against me, in this will I be confident. One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.”
After the short service (during which, sadly, the choir seemed virtually silent rather than leading the crowd of thousands – 7,500, so The Examiner reported the next day – so the traditional hymn “O God, our help in ages past” and the National Anthem were both all but inaudible), I went to a nearby pub for breakfast, then walked back in the cold light of dawn through now-deserted streets.
In 1916, Tasmania had a population of 200,000; of those, 15,485 enlisted (38% of eligible men), and of those enlisted, 2,432 were killed – a 16% death rate. In memory of the fallen, I have said the Dirge (Matins and Lauds of the Dead, so-named after the first antiphon at Matins, Dirige, Domine, Deus meus); at nine o’clock, I will join the choir at the ANZAC Mass at Apostles.
Entrance Antiphon (Cf. Rev 14:13)
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Let them rest from their labours, for their good deeds go with them.
Almighty everlasting God, who sent your Son to die that we might live, grant, we pray, eternal rest to those who gave themselves in service and sacrifice for their country. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Prayer over the Offerings
Grant, O heavenly Father, that the sacrifice of Christ, who laid down his life for his friends, may raise all those who have died in war to the victory of eternal life. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon (Cf. Jn 15:13)
Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his friends, says the Lord.
Prayer after Communion
By our communion with this Sacrament, O Lord, grant us, we pray, fortitude in the cause of right, and may our remembrance of those who have died in war make us ardent defenders of your peace. Through Christ our Lord.