Thursday, 25 February 2016

Mighty to Save

Come in Thy might, Lord!
    Come in Thy power!
Come to our land
    In this dark hour!
From the dread foe
    Deliverance we crave;
Be Thou our Helper,
    "Mighty to save."

Pardon our weakness
    When we give way;
When our faith falters
    Be Thou our stay;
Go Thou before us,
    Then we'll be brave;
Thou art our strength,
    "Mighty to save."

Why should we doubt
    With Thee ever near?
Why should our hearts
    Weaken, with fear?
Is Thy hand shortened,
    That it cannot save?
Lord God Omnipotent,
    "Mighty to save."

Let us, then, trust Thee
    Whatever betide;
Safe in the midst of foes
    In peace abide.
If we are Thine,
    No fears should enslave,
Thou, Lord, will guard us,
    "Mighty to save."

Jane Thomson.
Cullycapple, Aghadowey.

Poem: The Witness, 25th February 1916.
Image: Evidence of Angels by Marina Petro.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

To the Ulster Volunteers

Ye brave, brave sons of Ulster, who rallied to the call,
Left your friends and peaceful homes and sacrificed your all.
To meet and fight — and put to flight — that grasping cruel foe
Who has caused grim desolation, and heartache, pain, and woe.

    Courage, boys, courage!—
       Be this your daily cry;
    But don’t forget to “trust in God,
       And keep your powder dry.”

For many years the Germans had been making deep their plan;
Had worshipped militarism, had drilled their every man.
While other peaceful nations thought them cultured, honest, true,
The Germans forced this awful war like startling “bolt from blue.”

    Courage, boys, courage, &c.

Then gallant little Belgium had first to face the foe;
Her land was devastated, her precious shrines laid low.
What cruel, sad atrocities were daily practised there
By the Germans, in their bitter hate — ah! the thought is hard to bear.

    Courage, boys, courage, &c.

But Britain, to the rescue, came — France, Russia, Italy, too;
Supported by our Colonies — brave-hearted, leal, and true.
To conquer wrong, uphold the right, and make the weak ones strong —
With this as glorious motive, may great power to them belong.

    Courage, boys, courage, &c.

Our Ulster Volunteers set out; with ready pluck and vim
They joined the Empire’s army, to fight for home and King,
To show to all the world they were patriots, staunch and true,
And to uphold the grand old flag of red and white and blue.

    Courage, boys, courage, &c.

Brave boys from Aghadowey, we’ve a special word for you,
We have known you from your childhood, we have seen each in his pew
Listening to the Word of Life, joining in prayer and praise;
And now we pray that God may give “strength equal to your days.”

    Courage, boys, courage, &c.

And when the strife has ended, and fearful war is o’er,
You’ll have a warm, glad welcome back to your native shore,
You’ll tread once more the valleys where the little shamrock grows,
And gain new health and vigour ’mid Ulster’s calm repose.

    Courage, boys, courage, &c.

We mourn those noble soldiers who’ll return, alas! no more.
They’ve “crossed the bar,” and landed upon the other shore.
But if Christ has been their Captain, they inhert full reward,
And their dust will rest in foreign land, as in the old Churchyard.

    Courage, boys, courage, &c.

We thank our noble Army, we thank our Navy, too;
But, more than they, we thank our God, to Whom all praise is due,
That He kept the heartless Germans, despite their craft and guile,
From invading and destroying out own beloved Green Isle.

    Courage, boys, courage, &c.

J. THOMSON, Cullycapple.
January, 1916.

From The Witness, 18th February 1916.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

St. Valentine's Day, 1915

A Missive from the Front.

Ere the first grey dawn has banished
    Restless night and her alarms,
When the sleeper's snores have vanished
    On the order “Stand to arms!”
When the sky is bleak and dreary
    And the rain is chill and thin,
Be I ne’er so damp and weary,
    Yet my thoughts on You I pin.

When the bullets fly unheeded
    O’er the meagre parapet.
As I pace my ditch impeded
    By the squelching mud and wet;
When I eat my Army ration
    With my fingers caked in clay—
You can stake your total cash on
    Me remembering You this day.

Though the glittering knight whose charger
    Bore him on his lady’s quest
With an infinitely larger
    Share of warfare’s pomp was blest,
Yet he offered love no higher,
    No more difficult to quench,
Than this filthy occupier
    Of an unromantic trench.

Poem from Punch, 10th February 1915.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

From Home to the Trenches

Sonny, it seems like twenty year,
     The while that you’ve been gone,
And left me lonesome for you here
Trying to do my bit — oh, dear! —
     By keeping steady on.

I promised and I’ve meant to do,
     But now and then at night
I’ve been to blame, the times it blew
Like guns that answered guns, with you —
     My you — amongst the fight.

But in the morning “Dear old fool”
     I’ve seemed to hear you say;
“Mother, no need to fuss, keep cool,”
Just like the cheeky brat from school
     You was the other day.

You wasn’t always quite so grand;
     Once you was mighty glad,
Chased by a puppy-dog, to stand
Behind your Mummy, slip your hand
     In hers, the way you had.

Small son turned big, now that you’re grown
     And in a real war,
And set to face it all alone,
I’m wild to run and guard my own
     Same as I did before.

You’d laugh at that; but keep your fun
     Till fighting’s through, and then
Hurry off back to where there’s one
All of a fuss to hear her son
     Say “Dear old fool” again.

This poem appeared in Punch, 19th May 1915.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Hamilton Road Presbyterian, Bangor 1897-1947

Hamilton Road Church, Bangor, was opened for public worship on the 10th September, 1899, and in September this year special services were held to celebrate the Jubilee. Among the special preachers was the Moderator of the General Assembly (The Rt. Rev. Dr. G. D. Erskine), who brought the congratulations and good wishes of the Church to the congregation.

The congregation was erected, by direction of the General Assembly, on 8th June, 1897. The first minister was Rev. Robert Montgomery, B.A., of Portrush (brother of Rev. Dr. Henry Montgomery, Belfast). Mr. Montgomery’s ministry was brief, as he had to resign in May, 1898, owing to ill-health.

It was during the ministry of the next minister, Rev. W. A. Hill, B.A. (who had, prior to his ordination, been assistant, for two years, to Rev. Dr. Charles Davey, in St. Enoch’s Church, Belfast), that the Church building was erected and opened for public worship. The Church has seating accommodation for over 1,000 people, and is built of Scrabo stone. A particular feature of the building is a large glazed dome in the roof, giving light through the ceiling panelling to the whole of the centre of the Church.

As a memorial to the members of the congregation who gave their lives, and to those who served in the Great War, a pipe organ was installed in 1922.

In May, 1928, Mr. Hill accepted a call to Wexford and Enniscorthy congregations, and in October of the same year, Rev. J. Millar Craig, B.A., formerly of First Letterkenny, Sandymount, (Dublin), St. George’s, Sunderland, and latterly of St. Ninian’s, Golder’s Green, London, was installed as minister.

Largely due to Mr. Craig’s inspiring leadership and untiring efforts, the Church Halls, consisting of a Large Hall and a Minor Hall, seating 450 and 150 people respectively, cloakrooms and a kitchen, were built in 1932 at a cost of £4,500.

Electrical heating and lighting were introduced into the Church in 1939 (the Church being the first in Ireland to be wholly heated by electricity).

In 1945, Rev. J. M. Craig retired from the active duties of the ministry, and his successor is Rev. E. M. Borland, B.A., the present minister, formerly minister of Downpatrick congregation.

The congregation has shown a steady increase in numbers and givings throughout the years. 57 families, in 1897, grew to 160 in 1910, and to 487 in 1947. The givings to Missions increased from £50 in 1897, to £567 in 1947.

The members of the congregation have always been interested in Evangelistic work, and in Foreign Missions, and this is evidenced by the generous givings to Missions and by the fact that thirty-four members of the congregation have been, or are, engaged in active full-time Christian service at home and abroad.

A Booklet, giving the full history of the congregation from 1897-1947, has been prepared and published by Rev. E. M. Borland.

An extract from the Presbyterian Herald, December 1949.