Monday, 5 February 2007

Spectres of Rectors

Yesterday we had a bumper of a service when we met to give thanks for the life of Bill Bennetts who was the Rector of this parish more than twenty years ago (the last incumbent but one). He served also as parish priest of Kilburn where I had my first sole charge. (Here is a link to what I said in my sermon at the service).
As I said in that service, Rectors lurk in their parishes after they have gone, and Bill did. His predecessor but one (GFH) does also. I wonder if I will.
There was a curious array of feelings. He died some months ago, so in a way it was all over bar the shouting but all sorts of people gathered together to say goodbye. The principal mourner was his second-wife, who was not his wife when he was Rector of this parish and so was curiously not known to most of us. His two adult children were there and they had the confrontation of having to revisit the home of their childhood as well as everything else.
We sang the Office of Evening Prayer from the book of 1662, and his daughter found some of it rather alienating. Ah well we have all strayed like lost sheep from the devices and desires of our own hearts. But she wondered how I had chosen all his favourite hymns. The answer is I don't know! When I looked the other day at what exactly I had chosen I was surprised at the choice myself. I suppose part of it was that for one of his generation most of the hymns were favourites, but it also speaks volumes about the power and sustainability of 18th and 19th Century verse.

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