Trinity Sunday and the Churchill connection

Jun 4, 2023 by

by Julian Mann, TCW:

WHEN I listened as a schoolboy in the early 1980s to a recording of Winston Churchill’s ‘Be ye men of valour’ speech on the BBC, I was mystified by his reference to Trinity Sunday.

‘Today is Trinity Sunday,’ he said in his first broadcast to the nation as Prime Minister on May 19, 1940, a few weeks before Nazi Germany conquered France. He then quoted his own version of a text from the First Book of Maccabees in the Old Testament Apocrypha: ‘Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: “Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be”.’ 

I could not understand why the man I was coming to revere as Britain’s war leader would mention ‘Trinity Sunday’. Wasn’t that something to do with the Church and Christianity and the manifestly underpaid vicar occasionally to be seen plodding the pavements of North Sheen?

I later learned from reading Churchill’s 1930 memoir, My Early Life, how important Christianity was in shaping his spiritual and moral outlook under the influence of his evangelical Christian nanny, Elizabeth Everest. 

Today is Trinity Sunday. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer directs that on this festival of the Church ‘shall be sung or said at Morning Prayer, instead of the Apostles’ Creed, this Confession of our Christian Faith, commonly called the Creed of Saint Athanasius, by the Minister and people standing’.

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