Scripture Verse

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Introduction

Words: John S. Ark­wright, 1917. This hymn was sung at the bu­ri­al ser­vice of the Un­known War­ri­or in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don, No­vem­ber 11, 1920, as the choir en­tered in pro­ces­sion. How­ev­er, the tune was not The Su­preme Sac­ri­fice as stat­ed in Charles Har­ris’ obit­u­a­ry and else­where, but El­lers, by Ed­ward Hop­kins, ac­cord­ing to a let­ter in The Times (Au­gust 8, 1936, page 6), from Sy­dney Ni­chol­son, who con­duct­ed the ser­vice.

Music: The Su­preme Sac­ri­fice Charles Har­ris, 1919 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

If you know where to get a good pho­to of Har­ris (head & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),

portrait
John S. Arkwright
1872–1954

Lyrics

O val­iant hearts who to your glo­ry came
Through dust of con­flict and through bat­tle flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knight­ly vir­tue proved,
Your me­mo­ry hal­lowed in the land you loved.

Proudly you ga­thered, rank on rank, to war
As who had heard God’s mes­sage from afar;
All you had hoped for, all you had, you gave,
To save man­kind—your­selves you scorned to save.

Splendid you passed, the great sur­ren­der made;
Into the light that ne­ver­more shall fade;
Deep your con­tent­ment in that blest abode,
Who wait the last clear trum­pet call of God.

Long years ago, as earth lay dark and still,
Rose a loud cry upon a lone­ly hill,
While in the frail­ty of our hu­man clay,
Christ, our Re­deem­er, passed the self same way.

Still stands His cross from that dread hour to this,
Like some bright star above the dark ab­yss;
Still, through the veil, the Vic­tor’s pi­ty­ing eyes
Look down to bless our les­ser Cal­va­ries.

These were His ser­vants, in His steps they trod,
Following through death the mar­tyred Son of God:
Victor, He rose; vic­to­ri­ous too shall rise
They who have drunk His cup of sac­ri­fice.

O ris­en Lord, O Shep­herd of our dead,
Whose cross has bought them and whose staff has led,
In glo­ri­ous hope their proud and sor­row­ing land
Commits her child­ren to Thy gra­cious hand.