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Washington Prayer Siren: 1918

Washington Prayer Siren: 1918

Washington, D.C., August 1918. "Angelus siren on roof of Evans building." Every day at noon, Get Behind the Government and Pray for Victory. View full size.


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Golden Bells, Silver Sirens or Brass Pipes?

It is intriguing they didn't just make use of the ubiquitous church bells, which would seem to put one more in an attitude of prayer. But, they may have been relying upon the shock value of the siren to stir the emotions and emphasize the urgency, rather than bells that often symbolize peace.

As for preferring the call of a minaret, I was subject to this all too often while in India at 5 a.m., and believe me, the siren would have been more soothing than the flexing of the pipes done by a muezzin.

"Evidence of shock"

Two newspaper clips.

Just war

remember this was supposed to be a "Just War"--the war to end all wars!! Wilson decided that we could save Europe from itself. World War One was a ghastly horror, with modern weapons and old-fashioned tactics. It soon became less than a noble calling. We should pray that war ends.

Relaxed Flag Code

In addition to the mingling of church and state, another issue that seems more relaxed back then is display of the flag.

Angelus Siren

An Angelus is a Roman Catholic prayer said at a set times of the day. Traditionally, the times (6 a.m., noon, 6 p.m.) were announced by bells. It seems the concept of separation of Church and State was interpreted differently a hundred years ago.

Washington Post, Jun 16, 1918

Angelus Begins in D.C. June 23

Complete Cooperation in All Departments and Schools Will be Arranged.

Arrangements for a complete observance of Washington's angelus, beginning June 23, in the various government offices have been made by the citizens' angelus committee and William F. Meyers, chief clerk of the Treasury Department, has been designated by Chairman John G. Capers to act as a chairman of a special committee to see that there is a perfect cooperation in all government offices.

In addition, special arrangements will be made in schools not only to see that all school bells will ring at noon, but that the pupils understand what the observance of the moment of prayer means.

Washington Post, Jul 23, 1918

Siren to Call to Prayer.

John G. Capers, chairman of the citizens' angelus committee, announced yesterday that a large electric siren had been purchased and would be installed on the Evans building within a few days. The siren will be sounded at noon each day to call all residents of Washington to a moment of prayer.

Washington Post, Aug 25, 1918

Angelus Calls for Victory

Siren on Roof of Evans Building to Sound for Noon Prayer.

The Angelus siren on top of the Evans building yesterday for the first time called Washington to pray for victory. The siren will sound every day at noon.

Ceremonies incident to the installation of the big electric horn were witnessed by about 200 persons. Among those present were Secretary of Commerce Redfield, District Commissioner Brownlow, Postmaster Chance, H.B. F. Macfarland, W.T. Galliher and Bishop W.F. McDowell.

I’ll take a minaret

and the Muslim call to prayer over this racket any day!

The War Prayer

O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it.

For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

- Mark Twain

Pray Together

Every day at noon we all pray together that the dag-nabbed, confounded, gall-durned siren malfunctions. Seriously, why do people insist on inflicting noise on others?

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