Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) really knew how to spoil a party.
One would have thought the cryptic faith of Kipling was a devout Calvinism when he wrote the remarkable poem, Recessional, for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.# For some, the poem, which is a prayer (that became a hymn, sung to Melita, better known as the tune for “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”), was a dire warning to his fellow countrymen of forgetting the responsibilities of the Empire. Indeed, Kipling had first composed another poem for the occasion. He replaced that rather infamous poem of Jubilee verse with Recessional (Kipling sent his original poem, on the responsibilities of developed Peoples to aid undeveloped nations, to Theodore Roosevelt to encourage taking responsibility to subdue the Philippine Islands).# Kipling’s second attempt to satisfy the mandate of the London Times for a poem this poem did not escape criticism. Broadly speaking, Kipling was denounced for producing a poem that would serve as a prayer for an Imperialistic European centrism, even if, by the more benevolent critics, he was just being a man of his times (that phrase can become a lazy historical analysis and can suggest a latent approval for what was wrong then and is wrong still). Yet the evidence suggests that this was a sincere prayer by concerned national leader to be offered to God before his fellow countrymen as a prophetic warning: a warning against national hubris in the sight of the Almighty. Kipling’s Recessional has a repeating chorus of “Lest we forget.” According to Kipling the rest of the poem was built around this singular phrase which gripped him in his study. The Biblical phrase became a national prayer to God about a mighty Empire that should be looking to the Lord with profound gratitude for such a glorious reign as Victoria rather than any self-congratulation. Kipling, increasingly, sensed the encroachment of a national hubris which was not only repulsive to his sense of God and Queen and Country, but dangerous. Any nation that boasts in its greatness because of its own strength is in danger of judgment. Thus, Kipling composed Recessional.
I felt compelled to reproduce Recessional here because as I read it aloud, considered the troubles of our own day, I, like Kipling, could not shake the line, “lest we forget” from my mind or heart. As a minister of the Gospel and as one who wears the uniform of our Army, and one who loves America, and would seek to stir up our national memory of the Pilgrim’ pride, sacred covenants made by our spiritual forefathers and mothers, beckoning to us through the passing decades to look to God for His blessing, pleading with His Grace to forgive our sins through the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and confessing our absolute dependence upon Almighty God for our wealth, protection, blessings of all kinds, including our Constitution, the liberties which we now enjoy, the revival from on his which is now needed, I offer this poem from Kipling as a poem for today even as I would draw your attention to the command of God to the people of Israel:
“Then beware lest thou forget the Lord which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 6:12 AV).
Recessional London Times, 17 July 1897, Issue 1 of Critic leaflet G0d 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!
by Rudyard Kipling
 The faith of Rudyard Kipling is an enigma. His verse borrows heavily from the Bible. His poetry reflects the civic religion of the Empire. For more information see Gilmour, David. The Long Recessional: the imperial life of Rudyard Kipling. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003
 “Recessional.” 2008. 30 Sep. 2012 < ;http://www.kipling.org.uk/rg_recess1.htm>;
 John B. Dykes, 1861. See http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/g/o/godofofa.htm.