St Columb’s Cathedral will mark the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme by playing a leading role in a Commemoration Parade and Drumhead Service on Friday, July 1.
The Dean of Derry, Very Rev Dr William Morton, stressed the cross-community nature of the event and urged the public to remember the enormous sacrifice paid by almost 800 citizens from Londonderry who were killed in World War I, as well as the 4,000 men and women who volunteered for duty.
“This year, being the 100th year since that fateful day when many went ‘over the top’, the Hamilton Band is once more organising the parade and commemoration service at The Diamond,” the Dean said.
This year the Somme commemoration will feature a very special Drumhead Service in the Cathedral, conducted by the Dean, who will receive the standards following the parade and the drums, which usually reside in the Chapter House, together with the old bass drum, which will be processed to the chancel, where they will form the drumhead on a specially constructed dais.
“I will be celebrating and administering Communion from the old bass drum just as it was all those years ago at the Somme,” the Dean said.
During the service there will be an act of remembrance and the Hamilton Band will also perform a piece of music specially commissioned by them to mark the 100th anniversary.
“The work, titled ‘1.7.16’, has been composed by Mel Orriss, who arranged the Siege of Derry Overture performed at the Cathedral in 2013,” the Dean said.
It is understood that the Cathedral Choir will also sing the Anthem ‘Wilt not Thou, O God’ which was composed by the Irish composer, Ina Boyle, in 1915.
“This an them was to have been sung by the choir of St Columb’s Cathedral, but so many of the men went to fight in the Great War that it could not be performed,” Dean Morton said.
“The service is open to all denominations and to anyone who wants to give thanks for the sacrifice of all the young men from this city who made the decision to go to war and fight to ensure we have the freedoms we enjoy today. We at St Columb’s Cathedral look forward to having your company at this very important Service of Remembrance,” the Dean said.
The itinerary for the evening is as follows: 6.30pm, parade will form up at Horace Street; 6.35pm parade will move off from Horace Street to the War Memorial at The Diamond; 6.45pm, wreath laying service commences; 7.05pm, parade moves off with march past at Bishop Street; 7.30pm, Drumhead Service at St Columb’s Cathedral; 9pm, parade forms up again at London Street, and proceeds to Horace Street for dismissal.