Posted By John
“Lest We Forget”

ALTHOUGH RUDYARD KIPLING is not Australian, I have included his poem Recessional because a phrase from it – “lest we forget” –has become an enduring part of Australian culture.

Recessional was a poem Kipling wrote for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The poem is a prayer describing two fates that befall even the most powerful nations, their armies and people. The poem is asking God to spare us from these fates “lest we forget” the sacrifices of Christ. The “us” Kipling meant in the poem was England.

After World War I, the phrase “lest we forget” entered into common usage across the British Commonwealth as a plea not to forget past sacrifices. Today the Recessional is sung as a hymn on Anzac Day to the hymnal Melita by John Bacchus Dykes

The phrase “Lest we forget” is often found on war memorials and epitaphs.


by Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936)

English Poet

God of our fathers, known of old –
Lord of our far-flung battle line –
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine –
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies –
The Captains and the Kings depart –
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away –
On dune and headland sinks the fire –
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe –
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law –
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard –
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

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