The article which appeared on the following Sunday in The Observer, showed how profoundly a distinguished London editor and writer had been moved by what he saw in Belfast.
THE SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT
Ulster Day, Saturday the 28th of September, 1912, was kept as a day of religious observance by the Northern Loyalists. So far as the Protestants of all denominations were concerned, Ulster was a province at prayer on that memorable Saturday morning. In Belfast, not only the services which had more or less of an official character—those held in the Cathedral, in the Ulster Hall, in the Assembly Hall—but those held in nearly all the places of worship in the city, were crowded with reverent worshippers. It was the same throughout the country towns and rural districts—there was hardly a village or hamlet where the parish church and the Presbyterian and Methodist meeting-houses were not attended by congregations of unwonted numbers and fervour. Not that there was any of the religious excitement such as accompanies revivalist meetings; it was simply that a population, naturally religious-minded, turned instinctively to divine worship as the fitting expression of common emotion at a moment of critical gravity in their history. “One noteworthy feature,” commented upon by one of the English newspaper correspondents in a despatch telegraphed during the day, “is the silence of the great shipyards. In these vast industrial establishments on both sides of the river, 25,000 men were at work yesterday performing their task at the highest possible pressure, for the order-books of both firms are full of orders. Now there is not the sound of a hammer; all is as silent as the grave. The splendid craftsmen who build the largest ships in the world have donned their Sunday clothes, and, with Unionist buttons on the lapels of their coats, or Orange sashes on their shoulders, are about to engage on what to them is an even more important task.” He also noticed that although the streets were crowded there was no excitement, for “the average Ulsterman performs his religious and political duties with calm sobriety. He has no time to-day for mirth or merriment, for every minute is devoted to proving that he is still the same man—devoted to the Empire, to the King, and Constitution."
There is at all times in Ulster far less sectarian enmity between the Episcopal and other Reformed Churches than in England; on Ulster Day the complete harmony and co-operation between them was a marked feature of the observances. At the Cathedral in Belfast the preacher was the Bishop of Down, while a Presbyterian minister representing the Moderator of the General Assembly, and the President of the Methodist College took part in the conduct of the service. At the Ulster Hall the same unity was evidenced by a similar co-operation between clergy of the three denominations, and also at the Assembly Hall (a Presbyterian place of worship), where Dr. Montgomery, the Moderator, was assisted by a clergyman of the Church of Ireland representing the Bishop.