Florence Nightingale Memorial Service 2018

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Florence Nightingale Memorial Service at Westminster Abbey 2018

We arrived in good time and made our way through throngs of tourists into the abbey and took our seats in the South Transept, which was a good position quite near the High Altar. We were seated next to some army nurses among as many men as women. The atmosphere was excited and expectant. Eventually everyone had arrived and before the service began, the organ played a fugue by Bach. We all stood for the processions. The first was the Adjutant and Chelsea Pensioners who came on behalf of their forbears in gratitude to the Florence Nightingale nurses for their care during the Crimean war.

The choir sang the Introit and the Very Reverend Doctor John Hall, Dean of Westminster conducted the service. The congregation joined in singing the first hymn:‘Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!’ and listened to a bidding prayer before sitting for the readings and a motet. We stood to sing another hymn and for the Procession of the Roll of Honour. This was carried in silence from the tomb of the Unknown Warrior through the Nave to the Sacrarium and presented to the Dean who placed it near the High Altar. The Bearer of The Nurses’ Roll of Honour processed, accompanied by three Matrons-in-Chief from her Majesty’s Armed Forces. The Roll was compiled by the British War Memorial Fund and is kept in the North Ambulatory of the Abbey which may be visited on request to the Vergers.

After another prayer and hymn, there was an address before the Procession of the Lamp. The Lamp was carried by a scholar from The Florence Nightingale Foundation escorted by student nurses and midwives from Plymouth University. On arrival at the High Altar the Lamp was handed to another scholar. The Lamp highlights the diversity of care given by nurses for the benefit of humanity and the passing-on of learning. This was followed by a prayer:

‘May thus lamp signify our sacred calling to serve the sick and injured, which was heard and answered by Florence Nightingale, passed on from generation to generation, and received with gladness and humility by us today.’

The choir sang an anthem, then there were the Intercessions, the Lord’s Prayer, the final hymn, the Blessing and the National Anthem. The dignitaries processed out to the strains of a Mendelssohn Allegro.

It was an inspiring and uplifting service and a privilege to have been part of such a noble profession.

Una Barrie Set 113

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