This work received its first performance at the Norwich Festival on 22 October 1930, with Basil Maine as the speaker/orator.Written in the aftermath of World War I, in which Bliss had performed military service,Bliss inscribed the dedication as follows:
"To the Memory of my brother Francis Kennard Bliss and all other Comrades killed in battle"
The work sets various poems:
Homer, The Iliad, passages from Book VI (translation of W Leaf) and Book XIX (translation of Chapman)
Walt Whitman, "Drum Taps"
Wilfred Owen, "Spring Offensive"
Li Tai Po
Robert Nichols, "Dawn on the Somme"
The extracts are spoken by a narrator and sung by a large choir. Juxtaposing the harsh images of trench warfare with the epic heroes of Ancient Greece.