I had a funeral at St German's this afternoon. The nave was filled, mostly with mourners from three generations of a big extended family. Thankfully, early rain gave away to sunshine, bathing the church in consoling light. The family had printed its own hymn sheet, which had a version of 'Abide with me' containing eight verses, three additional ones which I've never seen before. Every hymn book I can recall, has had just five. Wikipedia has a seven verse version, the Cyberhymnal version has eight. Which text is the author's original isn't mentioned. Henry Francis Lyte, who was a Scottish Episcopalian, composed it in 1845 has he was about to quit his Lower Brixham parish to recover his health. Three weeks later he died of tubercolosis. The third, fourth and fifth verses I'd never heard before are these
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.
Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.
Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.
These verses make it far more a hymn about one's life journey, than about impending death. This is quite refreshing.
The gathering in the Cathedral for the funeral of Archbishop Barry's wife Hilary was in my mind as I took the service. I heard today that my cousin Thelma's funeral will be next Thursday morning. It'll be another extended family and community gathering, as she was a sociable and gregarious person all her life.
Just beforehand, a message arrived from Clare to say the car was repaired and ready for collection. Instead of driving me home after the cremation at Thornhill, my driver took me straight to the garage workshop and deposited me on the forecourt. Stepping out of a big posh chauffeured Jaguar to collect a twenty four year old Golf Mark Two, raised a few smiles from the staff. Keeping the car in good repair this past six months has worked out more expensive than over the past six years, but all in all, in terms of total expenditure it's still been cheap motoring.
In the evening at home I wrote my Sunday sermon, and uploaded a few photos I've been taking this past week of a bunch of red tulips bought at Tesco's last weekend. It's been marvellous to watch them open out from being tight closed to that last phase of total openness before the petals drop off. Tracking how they changed from scarlet to a nearly translucent purple was fascinating, but those changes aren't nearly so vivid in digital images as to the naked eye, no matter how good the camera.