In the house of the almighty lord
They all shall come, the great and small
They have-nots, and the have-it shall enter.
A body from a foreign war
Is draped in flag, the bugle calls
To prey in sorrow, bless the cause
Shall we not remember?
But would the man from Verdun speak
Of glory if he laid a wreath?
And if the Empire called again, would he defend her?
And what of those who held Madrid
While powers stalled and freedom hid?
Or those that kept the Athens bridge,
Traitored by the allied kiss?
Shall we not remember?
And who believes he came to die
For uniforms where padres hide
To bless the violence from our side,
Knowing smaller nations cry.
"Thou shalt not kill" - unless of course
The weak shall try and share the earth
With those who found their power of birth
Shall we not remember.
All shall come to the house of the Almighty, big and small, rich and poor – a memorial service for a soldier, who was killed far from home, maybe in the Falklands war. The priest says a sorrowful prayer and blesses the cause for which the soldier died. But would the veteran from the battle of Verdun (in World War One) speak of glory when he lays a wreath on Armistice Day? Would he offer himself up to defend the British Empire once again? And who thinks of the members of the International Brigade, who defended Madrid against the fascists during the Spanish civil war, while President Roosevelt preached about preserving the status quo and England stood idly by? Or of the Greek partisans, who held the Athens bridge, and who were betrayed by the English at the end of World War Two, who let the Monarchy back into power instead? Did Jesus die for priests in uniform, who bless the violence which we exert against smaller nations? ‘Thou shalt not kill’, so it says – except it seems, when the meek stand up and try and share power with those who have had it since birth. “Remember” is an anti-war song. It shows the dishonesty of religion, which gives war integrity by venerating privilege and patriotism, while turning a blind eye to the death and destruction it causes.
“Remember” was written after going round Westminster Abbey and realising just how connected is religion and war: the British Army and its spiritual wing, the Anglican Church. On Remembrance Day we are asked to remember the dead, but what do we really remember when the church is always quick to bless the next adventure. I’m not a pacifist but the hypocrisy of our church is a little stunning. Steve Skaith
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