Memorial service for those who died homeless – POSTPONED


November 5, 2020


St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 4JJ

Event Web Site:

Following the government announcement that there will be lockdown from midnight on Wednesday November 4th, the service of memorial at St Martins-in-the-Fields scheduled for 11am on Thursday November 5th, can not take place. I copy below the email from Reverend Richard Carter.

Dear Gavin
I am so sorry too but you are right.  We have been told that church services will have to stop again. I hope I can postpone this service to a time where we can once again remember the lives of those who so often have not been remembered and celebrate their humanity with beauty and dignity.
I do hope when things open you will consider being part of this.
Very best wishes and thanks for your support

Whenever the service/vigil does take place – and I hope that this is at the earliest possible time – I commit to performing at that time along with my ensemble.

The Gavin Bryars Ensemble would have played Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet for the annual service of memorial at St Martin in the Fields for those who died homeless in the previous year. We did this in 2018 and it was an extraordinarily moving experience. This year, as previously, we would have been joined by the Choir With No Name, made up of homeless people. Because of the Covid-related rules prior to midnight on November 4th for the number of people allowed to gather, it would have taken place four times: at 11am, 11:30, midday and 12:30. Previously, during the service the names of those who died are read out, and members of the congregation each take a card, bearing the name of one person for them to remember during the year to come.

Regarding the new situation this year, Richard wrote:

It is with regret that I am writing to inform you all that due to the government announcement on Saturday about the lock-down beginning on Thursday and subsequent guidance from the Diocese of London we have decided we must  postpone Thursday’s Vigil for Those Who Have Died Homeless until such times when we are able to gather publicly again. We will of course continue to remember all those who have died and seek to honour and remember them with dignity as soon as this is possible within church.  

On Thursday I will be on the portico of St Martin’s with Catherine Duce, the cross and flowers we had planned,  to (safely) hand out the prayer/remembrance cards which have already been printed to anyone who may turn up uninformed  but there will be no public gathering. I will live stream from the portico the reading out of the names that Mark has so carefully collected on with a simple prayer for those who have died and the CD that Gavin has sent will be played.

You had all helped me to prepare the most beautiful service and I am so grateful to you all. I would particularly like to thank Gavin and Choir with No Name, for their readiness and commitment to this service, to The Museum of Homelessness for their preparation of stories and those who were going to tell them for us,  and Gavin Bryars and his Ensemble for his, as always, generous support. Thank you too to Adele and all at the Connection at St Martin’s for your help in planning and supporting and all those who were going to provide stewards to make this service possible.

I have realised once again in planning this service how much it means to so many people and how much for people who have known or are homeless themselves they have taken it to heart and made it part of their annual  calendar. Thank you for your continuing commitment and participation to the service.


With prayers of remembrance for all those who have died, all those who remember them and all those still facing homelessness and deepest thanks to all of you.

Gavin Bryars