This November the Military Wives Choirs and Westminster City Council collaborated to commemorate one of the most poignant centenaries of the First World War: the burial of the Unknown Warrior.
I was very honoured to be invited to help voice-over the documentary that accompanied the new song. You can watch the documentary below.
“Members of the Military Wives Choirs from across the country have re-recorded a hymn sung at the funeral itself in 1920. ‘Abide with Me’ was one of two tracks to survive experimental recording at the original ceremony to become the first electrical recording ever sold to the public.
The project, which was produced during a period of present-world uncertainty, was conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton, one of Britain’s most distinguished and dynamic conductors, and produced by Sean Hargreaves. 70 members of the Choirs travelled from across the UK to record each vocal part individually due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Of over one million British and Commonwealth servicemen and women killed in World War I, some 165,000 would never receive a proper burial. Many were left in unmarked graves on the battlefields where they fell. Some were simply never found, leaving family members with nowhere to mourn their loved ones.
In 1920, one unidentified fallen serviceman was chosen at random and returned from the fields of France to represent all those who had died in the war. And, on 11th November 1920, this unknown warrior was given a full state burial – his procession moving through packed London streets, before being laid to rest amongst Kings and Queens in Westminster Abbey. The ceremony also included the unveiling of the Cenotaph by King George V. This national outpouring of grief followed a period of incredible suffering – and remains a moving demonstration of togetherness in the face of adversity. Exactly 100 years on from the burial of the Unknown Warrior we have created a new version of ‘Abide with Me’ – a hymn sung at the ceremony in 1920.
Conceived before the impact of Covid-19 had hit, and then created and recorded during lockdown, the production of the track became a journey in itself – showing the power of music to bring people together during difficult times.” – From The Military Wives Choirs.