Crossed Keys of St Peter


The Cross of Sacrifice



The Church of St Peter, Melbourne

St Peter's and the Wayside Cross

Melbourne, 1924

The Cross of Sacrifice

As far back as 1918, when the question of raising a memorial at St. Peter's to our fallen soldiers began to be mooted, it was felt that none could be more fitting than a Wayside Crucifix.

Such a symbol, so familiar to those who fought on the European battlefronts, and now a common sight throughout England, would point to the spirit of sacrifice in which our soldiers answered the call to service and stand as a constant reminder to passers-by of the spirit in which we are to carry on the task which our soldiers so nobly began. Preparations were put in hand at once, for it was felt that now was the time to show our appreciation of their achievements, else the precious opportunity would slip by for ever and the reproach would be laid at our door that we had forgotten our soldier lads who had fought and died that we might live. Under the superintendence of Mr. A.C. Morley, a 6 ft Bronze Figure of Our Redeemer was obtained from an English artist, through Messrs. Mowbray and Co., of London and Oxford. The sacred Figure was to be hung on a Calvary Cross of stone standing 22 ft high, of Pyrmont freestone, specially obtained from Sydney for the purpose, the whole surmounted by a pent roof of slate. The task of constructing and erecting the Calvary Cross at the corner of Albert and Gisborne Streets, on the topmost point of Eastern Hill, was entrusted to a local firm, Messrs. Lodge Bros., assisted by Miss Brockelbank, whose technical knowledge and general oversight of the work proved of the utmost value.

At length all was in readiness by Sunday, March 16, the day fixed for the Unveiling.

Before the unveling

Before the Unveiling

The Governor-General had consented to unveil the memorial and the Archbishop of Melbourne to dedicate it.

A very large and representative gathering was in attendance, including members of the A.I.F.—naval, military and airmen.

Punctually at 3.30 p.m. the Governor-General, accompanied by Lady Forster and Captain Seymour, A.D.C., arrived. They were met by the Vicar, the members of St. Peter's Vestry, and St. Peter's Scout Troop, who formed a Guard of Honour, and conducted to the place of Unveiling.

Drawn up in line on the South side of the Memorial was a contingent of the Naval Reserve, whilst the Girl Guides guarded the enclosure. Facing them were St. Peter's choristers, reinforced by Prince Obolensky, Mr. R.C. Gillard, our former Cantor; Mr. Stanley King, and other old friends. Behind them stood officers of the military arm of the Service, Lieut.-Commander Loudon Shand, and visiting clergy.

Immediately in front of the War Memorial, the Archbishop, attended by the Rev. R. Sherwood as chaplain, the Vicar in his cope with attendant Acolytes, the Governor-General, Lady Forster, and Lieut. Seymour, R.N., A.D.C., took up their positions.

The Governor-General and Lady Forster immediately before Unveiling

The Governor-General and Lady Forster immediately before Unveiling

Service of Remembrance

The ceremony began with the singing of the Hymn, "O Valiant Hearts" :–

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 mesage 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.

(John Arkwright.)

After the singing of the Hymn, the Governor-General unveiled the Cross of Sacrifice with these words:–

To the Glory of God and in memory of those from this Parish of St. Peter, Melbourne, who laid down their lives in the Great War, we unveil this Cross of Sacrifice in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.   Amen.

The Dedication

Then the Archbishop said the words of Dedication. At the conclusion of the prayer, the Last Post was sounded by Mr. F.J. Nott.

During the singing of the Hymn, "Hail! and Farewell," the Vicar, attended by his Acolytes, censed the Cross of Sacrifice.

They died that we might live—
Hail! And Farewell!
      All honour give
To those who, nobly striving, nobly fell,
      That we might live!

That we might live they died—
Hail! And Farewell!
      Their courage tried,
Past bearing yet with hearts invincible
      Like Kings they died.

Eternal honour give—
Hail! And Farewell!
      To those who died,
In that full splendour of heroic pride,
      That we might live!


The Dedication

The Dedication

Censing the Memorial

Censing the Memorial

The Meeting in the Parish Hall

The assemblage then moved on to the Parish Hall, the procession being headed by the Crucifer, the Choir and the Clergy, while the old battle song, "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord," was sung.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored:
He hath loosed the fatal lightning of His terrible swift sword,
      His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps:
They have builded Him an Altar in the evening dews and damps:
I have read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
      His Day is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As you deal with My contemners, so with you My Grace shall deal:"
Let the Hero born of Woman crush the Serpent with His heel:
      Since GOD is marching on.

He hath sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat:
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgement-seat:
O, be swift my soul to answer Him: be jubilant, my feet:
      Our GOD is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
      While GOD is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave:
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is succour to the brave:
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of time His slave:
      Our GOD is marching on.

(Ward Howe.)

The scene inside the Hall was one which will live long in the memories of those who were fortunate enough to be present.

The immense crowds that took up all the available space; the mellowing light of departing day that filtered through the amber-coloured windows; the faint clouds of incense-smoke that drifted in through the open doors; the dais draped with national flags; the multi-coloured uniforms of the naval and military officers, contrasted with the sombre-hued robes of the Clergy and Choristers, made up a picture unique in its impressiveness and formed a striking setting for the central figure of the King's Representative, who had come to us to render homage to the honoured dead.

The Governor-General's Address

In his stirring address, charged with pathos all the more poignant from the sense of his own personal bereavement through the War, the Governor-General said:–

"In the Unveiling of the Cross of Sacrifice, we signify our remembrance—perpetual as we hope—of the men who, at the call of duty, gave their lives for their country.

Men and women of the British race have passed through many crises in the centuries of its later history; they have fought and suffered and died—sometimes in triumph, sometimes in disaster—sometimes in victory, sometimes in defeat, sometimes merely by the way—doing what they could and without much to show for it. And here and there in the Old Country—and only here and there—are monuments to their memory, inspiring their successors to follow in their train.

They were comparatively few in number, because the opportunity of service was restricted, and so the Memorials to their memory are comparatively few and far between.

But in the Great War things were different. Then it was not the opportunity of the chosen few; it was the nation's call to everyone who had the necessary physical fitness to serve. The opportunity of service was greater because the crisis was greater—the danger was greater—the consequences of defeat would have been more disastrous. So the number of those who went, and the number of those who came not back was greater than ever before, and it is right and fitting that we should honour their memory, and the Victory that they won.

It has been my privilege to take part on many occasions such as this, and to speak about the memorial itself, or the heroic service, the undaunted and undauntable bravery, the steadfast courage and fortitude under circumstances of unbelievable horror and hardship of those whose names are commemorated. To take part in such occasions is an honour I treasure beyond words. I know how much the Empire owes to them, and I value the opportunity of ackowledging it.

But what we do here to-day goes far beyond the mere record of the names of those who fought for us, suffered for us, died for us. We commemorate the spirit in which these great things were done, the spirit of self-sacrifice, the spirit which moved men to throw away all they had in order to go and serve.

They did not stop to ask: 'What shall I get out of it?' The two questions—the one asked—the other stopping at their lips—which occurred to them were: 'Shall I be in time?'—'Shall I make good?'—'Shall I be worthy of the great opportunity?'—'Shall I be able to maintain the great traditions won by the British race in arms?'

The pages of history will record the undying story of their triumph. So long as the British race lasts, their fame shall live.

What, then, is the need of what we do to-day, and what is its significance? Surely we have only to look upon the Memorial to realise its significance—the commemoration of the spirit of service and self-sacrifice—the service and self-sacrifice of men humbly following in the steps of Christ the Saviour of mankind.

I cannot express its true significance better that by quoting some of those beautiful words of the hymn which we sang at the beginning of the Service—words written in the early days of the War by John Arkwright, a friend of mine, a fellow member of the House of Commons:–

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.

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.

As the years roll by and this generation passes hence, all the pain and the suffering and the sorrow of the War will vanish away, and there will remain nothing but the fame and the glory of great deeds.

Then shall these memorials throughout the land inspire successive generations with the splendid spirit in which these great things were done.

And so, commemorating our Beloved Dead, we turn to the Sign of HIM by Whose self-sacrifice they have passed through the Veil into the peace and glory of the Life Immortal."

The meeting closed with the singing of the well-known Kieff Melody, commonly known as the Russian Contakion of the Departed.

The Service in the Church

Meanwhile, as the Hall was not large enough to accommodate the crowd that tried to press in, a Service was held in the Church concurrently with that in the Hall.

It began with the singing of the Old Hundredth Hymn.

The Archbishop then addressed the congregation that filled the Church from end to end.

In his touching address, the Archbishop sought to recall the familiar spectacle of Wayside Calvaries, which met the soldier at every turn on the battle fields of Europe, and interpreted their symbolism. He then drew the attention of his audience to the famous battle-song which they had sung a few moments before, and the fitness of the old tune of "John Brown's Body" as set to the inspiring words of the American authoress. Finally, he dwelt with some emphasis on the comfort derived from the teaching as to the future life which both the song and the hymn embodied.

The End of the Service

The End of the Service

The service closed with a brief commemoration of the fallen soldiers and a dedication to the task of spiritual renewal as a preparation for the coming of the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, followed by the Benediction pronounced by the Archbishop.

Thus ended an event memorable among many memorable happenings at St. Peter's, yet destined, it may be, to achieve results of abiding worth for the religious life of the community.

Our Cross of Sacrifice is lifted up on the topmost point of Melbourne for all to see. The Saviour's pain-racked arms are outstretched as if to fold the passer-by in His loving embrace; the parched lips seem to say with pleading tones: "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" He sees—but will he heed that stupendous appeal of Incarnate Love? God knows.

For ourselves, we have raised the symbol of our Redemption for others to take knowledge, but dare we take the message home to ourselves, and, in the power of the Cross, translate it into lives of service and sacrifice for the advancement of the Kingdom?

So only may we justify our claim to erect such a memorial.

The Cross of Sacrifice

The Cross of Sacrifice

This text, and the accompanying photographs, have been transcribed from a contemporary booklet published by Ramsay Publishing Pty. Ltd., Melbourne. Neither the author nor the photographer are identified in the source booklet.

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