Sunday, November 04, 2007

A National Day of Prayer, September 1940

The High Altar at St Mary's R.C. Church, Cleator
(Photograph by J. Ritson)
This article deals with how the British National Day of Prayer in September 1940 was observed in the area in and around Cleator Moor, West Cumberland (now Cumbria). St Mary's R.C. Church at Cleator was one of the churches where the National Day of Prayer was observed on Sunday 8 September 1940.
Reports about the church services appeared in the local newspaper 'The Whitehaven News'. These indicate that, although West Cumberland was more than 300 miles from southern England where the Battle of Britain was being fought at that time, all the church services were well attended.

For additional information about the 'National Day of Prayer' in West Cumberland click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Day of National Prayer in Cleator & Frizington

Extracts from 'The Whitehaven News', 12 September 1940, page 5
(Cumbria County Archives Office, Whitehaven)

1. St John's Church and Wath Brow Mission, Cleator Moor (Church of England)

"Day of National Prayer - The special prayers appointed were said at St John's and Wath Brow Mission Churches on Sunday. The morning service was attended by a detachment of the local Home Guard under their commander, Mr G.S. Calder, and the 1st Cleator Moor Scouts and Guides were also present".

2. St Mary's Church, Cleator (Roman Catholic)

"A Novena of Intercession held last week concluded on Sunday, the birthday of the Blessed Virgin, when the day of National Prayer was observed. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament took place from the end of the last Mass until the evening service and during that period there was a constant stream of worshippers offering intercessory prayers. A procession of the Blessed Sacrament inside the church brought the day's observances to a close".

(This is the church that has been used for the photograph at the beginning of this article).

3. Cleator Moor Free Churches (Non-Conformist)

"The National Day of Prayer was observed by the Free Churches last Sunday when a special unified service was held in the Wesley Methodist Church. The resident minister, the Rev. T.S.J. Walsh, conducted the service. The special prayers were offered by Mr J.C. Joyce, and the address was given by the Rev. A.H. Pringle, M.A. Mr J. Harker was the organist and the service was ended with the National Anthem. A collection for the Red Cross amounted to £2 3s".

4. St Paul's Church, Frizington (Church of England)

"The annual convention took place on Saturday and Sunday. There were representatives from Cleator Moor, Cleator, Egremont, Hensingham, Whitehaven, Workington, Millom and South Shields. Father J.V. Wilson, St Albans, conducted the convention. The theme of the address he delivered was the work of the Church in the world today. The proceedings began on Saturday with tea, after which the address was on 'The Church's Failure and Repentance'.

The Convention continued on Sunday with parish Communion at 9 a.m. after which breakfast was served to upwards of 60 people. The second address, 'The Church's Opportunity and Strength' was given. preceding tea, the third address was based on 'The Church's Life and Work'. After each address the audience split up in groups of six for discussion. In conclusion Father Wilson summed up all the reports from each group, paying high tribute to the development and advancement in the spiritual work of St Paul's group meetings compared to that of two years ago when he visited St Paul's on the same mission. At evensong Father Wilson preached an inspiring sermon to a full church".

Writer's comment:

No doubt there were similar well attended services at many churches throughout the country. At the time the Battle of Britain was being fought in the skies above southern England. It was perhaps a time when many people went to a church to pray.

Sunday, 04 November, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you oh so very much
on posting this article as
as born-again intercessor I have always been trying to find out the correct day of this great humble act of our nation. I heard on the Christian grapevine it was the 8th. Yes we need to have another one.

Tuesday, 22 July, 2008  
Anonymous David Longworth said...

Another "Thank You"! The role of prayer during WW2 is alive in the memories of the declining numbers of people alive at the time, yet so rarely appears in histories of those challenging times. It's as if an unseen editor has been attempting to eradicate the place of prayer in our deliverance as a nation. Our continuing decline is a direct result of ingratitude and apostasy. Many more days of prayer are desperately needed, as is the repentance mentioned in the report of the convention at St. Paul's, Frizington!

Monday, 20 July, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to the above. In these days as darkness gathers again and our nation allies with others against IS how much our nation needs prayer.

Wednesday, 24 September, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was interested to see how closely the national day of prayer was followed so swiftly by God's deliverance from the hand of the enemy in the Battle of Britain during September 1940.....rather like David approaching God first before presuming to attack the Philistines who were camped close by. David's seeking of God's heart on the matter was done in humility and submission, as I 'm confident was the case with our nation's intercessors before the Battle of Britain. Britain was in a perilous position. Like the Philistines, Germany was over-confident of victory, trusting in its might. These are the very conditions when God can demonstrate "not by might, nor by power but by my spirit." I'm so conscious now of our nation's indebtedness to the "few" pilots of many allied nations who flew in our defence and am in awe of God who sent them, just as he had the small army of Gideon to rout the foe in Old Testament times.

Tuesday, 01 September, 2015  
Blogger Peter G said...

Anonymous states that:
"I was interested to see how closely the national day of prayer was followed so swiftly by God's deliverance from the hand of the enemy in the Battle of Britain during September 1940. ... I'm so conscious now of our nation's indebtedness to the "few" pilots of many allied nations who flew in our defence and am in awe of God who sent them, ..."

It's one thing to remember past historical events when people were under great stress, quite another to draw absurd conclusions. The Battle of Britain raged from 10 July; did the deity sit it out until stirred by the National Day of Prayer?

As for God sending pilots, are we also to assume that the Red Army was propped up by God at Stalingrad? These battles were won in a just cause by the bravery and tenacity of those fighting them, not by the aid of the supernatural.

Wednesday, 02 September, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

While it is true the people of Britain, the Commonwealth (Empire), and those of many other Allied countries united for a day of prayer in September 1940, whether victory in the Battle of Britain was primarily due to prayer may well be a matter of opinion. To quote from the introduction of the wartime Hollywood film of Franz Werfel's "Song of Bernadette" (paraphrasing an earlier quote of Thomas Aquinas):

"For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible."

A British Pathé newsreel covered the main London service at Westminster abbey for the "National Day of Prayer" on 8 September 1940. By coincidence, this was 75 years ago to the day that this comment is being posted. Among the 'dignitaries' who attended the London service were, obviously. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Winston and Clementine Churchill. Neville and Mrs Chamberlain, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (in exile in London at the time) plus "hundreds of ordinary men and women", probably, one might hazard a guess, of all religions or of none. The day of prayer would seem to have united the resolve of many standing up against the Nazis, and perhaps one could say it was an important national initiative of King George VI?

This is a link to a short 'preview' clip of the Westminster Abbey service:
National Day of Prayer (Westminster Abbey) 8 September 1940

Tuesday, 08 September, 2015  
Blogger Jane said...

The link given by ritsonvaljos is to a clip of dignitaries attending the Day of Prayer called by the King of England on 26th May 1940, not 8th September. The British Army was trapped at DUNKIRK. Eye witnesses from the beaches of Dunkirk attested to miracles which occurred there.

Friday, 23 February, 2018  
Blogger Peter G said...

In six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until 6 June 1944. Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940 and attempted an invasion of France. The population of Germany deemed this a miracle. Are we to assume that God hadn’t wuite decided who to support at this stage?

More than 200 ships and boats were lost during the evacuation with many tragedies . On May 29 the destroyer Wakeful was torpedoed and sank in 15 seconds with the loss of 600 lives. 26It is estimated that around 3,500 British were killed at sea or on the beaches and more than 1,000 Dunkirk citizens in air raids. Some miracle!

The overall success of the Dunkirk operation was partly down to British units such as the 51st Highland Division fighting a fi erce rear-guard action.

Friday, 23 February, 2018  

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