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Editor at Large

Remembrance of things past…


A wonderful thing happened when I was walking the dog through the graveyard in South Leith Parish Church on Remembrance Sunday. As he attempted an incursion into the church no doubt (ahem) to leave his scent in the vestibule, the congregation poured out onto the forecourt.

Thankfully, he was distracted by a squirrel nonchalantly chewing a walnut a scant two feet from his nose and he tore off after it hell for leather, with me at a trot on the end of his lead, into the back graveyard.

Where I spotted a colourful group being led towards a particular grave by the Reverend Iain May, resplendent in his ceremonial togs. I followed at a discreet distance, perplexed. While the dog bristled at the lack of squirrel action.

And so we walked on, a respectful distance behind, losing the words in the wind.

It wasn’t until the following Monday that I was apprised of the goings on by the wonderful font of all things SLPC that is Arthur Mathieson.

He put me in touch with Gavin Booth who told me of an extra service they have on Remembrance Day Sunday, a ‘tour’ of the 9 Commonwealth War Graves bestowing blessings and, yes, remembrance. Which is what I had stumbled on the week before.

And now thanks to Gavin, I can recount two of those blessings, which can only sing to us all (and remind us we must be vigilant) in these beleaguered times.

On Driver T Brydon 413 Field Company, Royal Engineers. Laid to rest 18th February 1920:

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

And Lance Corporal Godfrey MacDonald, 5th Battalion Royal Scots. Laid to rest 8th June 1915:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

And then some words that seem very appropriate at the present time:

Conflict in Faith by Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

“When conflicts within a faith cost lives within that faith, Religion must cease to be the pursuit of power and become again what it was meant to be: God’s call to compassion for the powerless.”

A week to the day, indeed to the very hour, I once again find myself walking/being dragged through the graveyard by the dog, where we stumble upon the Annual Seafarers Service.

The scene here, as Shakespeare would have it is, ‘one of pride, pomp, and circumstance’:

Gentlemen in gold waistcoats, tailcoats and steepling top hats are milling around outside Trinity House making for an incongruous, but not unpleasant sight, in the slate grey environs of The Kirkgate.

One of these fellow fixes the dog with a steely gaze, before breaking into a beaming smile whilst watching the dog’s latest forlorn dart into another stab at that pesky squirrel.

Meanwhile, at the top of the stairs, youngsters in uniform stand, bright eyed and bushy tailed, fidgeting among themselves, waiting to descend to the ceremony below. Some hoping they too may “one day Go Down to the Sea in Ships” and venture in great waters… ■

Info: Church:,


And so we walked on, a respectful distance behind, losing the words in the wind


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