Oliver Luke Grenville Smith 1979 – 2013

Oliver Luke Grenville Smith
1979 – 2013
22nd June 2013
11.00 am at Strowan Woodland Cemetery, Perthshire
and then
4.00pm at St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Dundee
This booklet has been prepared principally for those who were unable
to be present at Oliver’s funeral services
but also for those who wish to remember and reflect
upon the words used in the services.
Accordingly, the full text of what was said by those who took part
in the services is included in italics.
A warm welcome to all who have travelled from far and near.
We gather together to mourn the loss of Oliver,
so near and dear to us here today,
to give thanks for his life, to commend him to God
and to commit his earthly remains to be buried.
The Order of Service is all contained in this booklet.
You are invited to join in saying the words in bold type.
The service today is led by:
The Very Revd Jeremy Auld, Provost of St Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee
Later in the day, at 4pm, we gather in St Paul’s Cathedral,
1 High Street, Dundee for a Mass of Thanksgiving for Oliver’s life
and thereafter for a period of refreshment.
All are welcome at that service.
We recommend, if you do not know Dundee, that you travel into the City Centre
by Riverside, that you remain in the left of the two lanes turning right at Tayside
House, the tower block in the midst of being demolished in the city centre. Follow
the road round the ‘S’ bend and then take the first left into Gellatly Street where
you will find a multi-storey car park on your left. Having parked, you exit the car
park by the Gellatly Street exit, turning left on to the street. At the end of the
street, turn left on to Seagate and you will see the Cathedral in front of you.
“I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord,
“Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11.25f)
We brought nothing into the world,
so that we can take nothing out of it. (1 Timothy 6.7)
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1.21)
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes
in him may not perish but have eternal life. (John 3.16)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning. (Lamentations 3 .22f)
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5.4)
The Very Revd Jeremy Auld, Provost
Dear friends, we gather here this morning for the funeral service of Oliver Luke
Grenville Smith. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jeremy Auld,
the Provost of St Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee, which for the last few years has been
Oliver’s and Shelley’s church and more recently, Thea’s too.
We gather in utterly devastating and tragic circumstances at the end of a period
of simply not knowing what had happened to Oliver – a period that has been
utterly draining for so many people but of course none more so than Shelley and
Carla and Rick up here in Scotland and Oliver’s parents, Richard and Gail, and
Victoria and all the family down south.
And being gathered here today brings with it the realisation that our worst fears
for Oliver have come to be and that we have lost someone infinitely precious and
who we all loved. But in a sense this also brings a sense of relief, relief from what
felt like the perpetual agony of not knowing and relief in now knowing that Oliver
was not and is not in pain or suffering.
And so it is with an almost bitter-sweetness that we come together in this
beautiful place which Oliver would have loved and of which I feel sure he would
utterly approve. Even the weather is at least far more typical of the Scotland that
Oliver knew and loved than the sunny warmth we have been experiencing over
the last few days!
And so it is my honour and privilege to lead us through this morning’s short
service. On behalf of Shelley and all Oliver’s family, I would like to welcome you to
this service.
We meet here to mourn the loss of a really splendid young man taken from his
family and from us so tragically young and, although most of us will do more of
this later on at the Cathedral in Dundee, we also meet to give thanks for Oliver
and all the love, friendship and happiness he gave, a life of generosity and of care,
of quiet faith but above all one of love – love of music, literature and nature, but
above all love of people – as son, brother, friend, colleague and teacher but
especially as husband to Shelley and as Thea’s daddy.
And so we come together to commend Oliver to God, and to commit his body to
the elements believing, as Oliver himself firmly believed, that God’s Son, Jesus
Christ, has passed through death before us to eternal life.
It is very important to the family that you have all come here today to join with
them in this service and I know they thank you most warmly for doing so. And
they extend an invitation to you to join them at St Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee
later on when we can really celebrate Oliver’s life and pay tribute to him; then
later on for refreshments and an opportunity to speak with the family. There are
details and directions in the back of this service sheet (if it survives the rain!)
Joyce Grenfell wrote:
If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower
Nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I am gone
Speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves
That I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So .... sing as well
I think Oliver with his love of nature, people and music might have subscribed to
those sentiments. And so sing we shall as we join in one of Oliver’s very favourite
hymns, ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’
Text: John Whittier (1807-92)
music: ‘Repton’, C Hubert H Parry (1848-1918)
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways!
re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still small voice of calm!
Living God
you love us with an everlasting love
and you alone can turn the shadow of death
into the light of the morning sky.
Help us to endure the grief and pain of this time.
In the silence of this time speak to us of eternal things.
Help us to listen to the words used in this service
so that we may be lifted from our sadness,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God our maker,
your creative will gives life to all that is:
your lifegiving power brings us to birth and raises us from death.
Take your son, Oliver, into your keeping
and give him the new life that is promised in Jesus Christ our Lord,
Romans 8.31b-32, 34-35, 37-38
A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans.
If God is for us, who is against us? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was
raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will
separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution or
famine or nakedness or peril or sword? No, in all these things we are more than
conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to
separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A Footprint on the Air by Naomi Lewis
'Stay!' said the child. The bird said, 'No,
My wing has mended, I must go.
I shall come back to see you though,
One night, one day--'
'How shall I know?'
'Look for my footprint in the snow.'
'The snow soon goes--oh, that's not fair!'
'Don't grieve, Don't grieve. I shall be there
In the bright season of the year,
One night, one day--'
'But tell me, where?'
'Look for my footprint on the air.'
The Very Revd Jeremy Auld
Now is not the time for eulogies and sermons – they will come later. All I offer
here is the briefest of reflections.
I first met Oliver when he and Shelley began coming to St Paul’s Cathedral. One of
the things about being a priest is that very quickly you can get to know a person
really quite intimately in a way that most people do not. Oliver, I knew instantly
by that serene demeanour that can sometimes be seen in the faces of great
artist’s depictions of saints, was a person of deep faith. But not only that, I could
tell he was someone of great gentleness and kindness.
I always am humbled by the experience of washing people’s feet each Maundy
Thursday night and washing Oliver’s feet was one of the last moments of contact I
had with him, feet that would carry him further on that spiritual quest that was so
much part of his life and ultimately to the mountain where he died. We cannot
begin to come to terms with the loss that we feel and it is not something that we
shall ever ‘get over’ and nor should it be. Rather, my hope and prayer is that, as
time passes, it is something that we learn to carry in as gentle a way as possible.
After the footwashing on Maundy Thursday, comes the watch reflecting Jesus’s
agony in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples falling asleep all around
him. Jesus says to them, ‘Could you not watch with me one brief hour?’ And so
on Maundy Thursday we are invited to watch for an hour or so. Oliver would sit in
the darkness of St Paul’s Cathedral right up to midnight each year, watching and
waiting with his Lord.
We have lived with the agony of watching and waiting, of not knowing where
Oliver was for so long. But despite the agony so acutely felt, especially by his
family, at his separation from us now, I hope we can take just a little comfort from
knowing that Oliver is now at peace, and abides with the Lord he sought out and
spent time with – in church, in his home with his Russian icons, on the
mountainside, in woodlands like this one; and now in that other country firmly
enveloped in the love of God.
May Oliver through the mercy of God, rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.
Let us pray
God of grace and glory, we thank you for Oliver, who was so near and dear to us
here today, and who has now been taken from us.
We thank you for the love he offered and received while he was with us on earth
especially to and from his dear and close family and especially as devoted and
loving husband to Shelley and father to Thea.
We thank you also for the friendship and support he showed to so many in his life
and for the strength, peace and security he brought. We pray that nothing good
in Oliver’s life will be lost, but will be of benefit to those he loved; that all that was
important to him will be respected by those who follow; and that everything in
which he was great will continue to mean much to us now that he is gone.
God of our journey, you have called us to follow in the way of Christ, even to
death. Lead Oliver through death to resurrection where Christ has gone before to
the place where right and truth prevail. Bring him with all the saints into your
eternal presence where there is no more pain.
God of heaven and earth, we pray that here on earth Oliver may go on living in all
his family, friends and loved ones - in all their hearts and minds, in their courage
and consciences and in their love. We ask you that those of us who were close to
Oliver may now, because of his death, be even closer to each other, and that we
may always be deeply conscious of your promise to be faithful to us in death.
We pray for ourselves and for each other and for all who mourn Oliver’s passing
and especially the whole family that we do not try to minimise this loss or seek
refuge from it in words alone, but rather turn to you who will never desert us in
our grief and to each other, for it is through the love of those you give to us that
we find strength for today and hope and peace for tomorrow.
Eternal God, as we pray for ourselves and for Oliver, we stand where earth and
heaven meet, where life is brought to death and death is made the gate to eternal
love. Deliver us from fear and doubt, from unbelief, and bring us to the light of
your presence. Grant us that peace which the world cannot give so that we with
Oliver may trust in you and find our life in you. We make our prayer through Jesus
Christ, our Saviour in life and death who taught us when we pray to say:
Our Father,
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
text: Jan Struther (1931)
music: Slane (Irish trad)
Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,
be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.
Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.
Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.
Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.
Oliver, you shared life with us:
God give eternal life to you.
You gave your love to us:
God give deep love to you.
You gave your time to us:
God give eternity to you.
You gave your light to us:
God give everlasting light to you.
And so now go forth upon your journey from this world,
dear child of God:
into the hands of the God who made you,
to find life in Christ who redeemed you,
to rejoice in the Spirit who renews you.
May the company of the redeemed enfold you;
may peace be yours this day,
and the heavenly city your home.
We have entrusted Oliver to God;
we now return his body to the elements
as we commit his body to be buried,
earth to earth, ashes to ashes and dust to dust;
in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who died, was buried and rose again for us.
To him be glory for ever and ever.
‘Lord, now let your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’
Wherever you go, may the love of God be with you,
wherever you go, may the peace of Christ be with you,
wherever you go, may the joy of the Spirit be with you,
wherever you go, the blessing of God:
Source of all being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit
be with you, those you love and for whom you pray
this day and always.
Shelley and all the family thank you for being here today
and invite you to join them
later at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Mass of Thanksgiving.
Following that service, refreshments will be served in the Cathedral
and thereafter, Oliver's family invite you
to the mezzanine at the Apex Hotel for a drink.
There will be a retiring collection at the Cathedral
in aid of Mountain Rescue.
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.
TS Eliot, Four Quartets
A warm welcome to all who have travelled from far and near.
We gather together to give thanks for the life of Oliver Smith,
so tragically cut short, and to celebrate his life and his many achievements.
We gather alongside Shelley, Thea and all his family, friends, colleagues and
students in this place that had become an important part of his life.
The Order of Service is all contained in this booklet.
You are invited to join in saying the words in bold type.
Suggestions for standing/sitting/kneeling are given,
but please feel free to do what is most comfortable for you.
If you use a hearing aid,
switch it to the ‘T’ position for direct access to the sound system.
All are welcome to receive Holy Communion at this service
or to come forward for a blessing.
Those taking part in leading the service:
The Very Revd Jeremy Auld, Provost of the Cathedral;
The Revd Canon Hugh Magee, St Paul’s Cathedral;
The Revd Canon Jonathan Mason, Rector of All Saints’, St Andrews.
The Cathedral Choir, directed by Stuart Muir.
text: Bianco da Siena (d 1434)
music: ‘Down Ampney’ - R Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
Let holy charity
mine outward vesture be,
and lowliness become mine inner clothing;
true lowliness of heart,
which takes the humbler part,
and o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
And so the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace,
till Love create a place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.
‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ says the Lord.
‘Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’ (John 11.25)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.
The Very Revd Jeremy Auld, Provost
Dear friends, we gather here this afternoon to give thanks for and celebrate the
life of Oliver Luke Grenville Smith. This morning, around 70 of us here this
afternoon, and some who are not, gathered at the beautiful Strowan woodland
cemetery in Perthshire for Oliver’s funeral service and burial. It is a truly peaceful
place that doesn’t feel at all like a cemetery and because Oliver was so in touch
with nature, with God’s creation, it is, I think, a truly fitting place for his earthly
remains. Not even the periodic downpours could dampen the serene nature of the
place and occasion.
And so we gather now to share memories of him; and to give thanks; and to share
in the sacrament of the Eucharist which was such an important part of Oliver’s
life. I mentioned at the burial that almost the last contact I had with Oliver was
washing his feet on Maundy Thursday, the feet that led him on a spiritual quest
and led him up the mountain where he died. He then sat here for hours that
night during the Vigil spending time with his Lord and so it is just as appropriate
that we now meet here this afternoon.
As I said this morning, we gather in utterly devastating and tragic circumstances
at the end of a period of simply not knowing what had happened to Oliver, a
period that has been utterly draining for so many people but of course none more
so than Shelley and Carla and Rick up here in Scotland and Richard, Gail, Victoria
and the wider family down south. And as we gathered this morning, it was of
course in the realisation that our worst fears for Oliver had come to be and that
we have all lost someone infinitely precious and who we all loved. But we also
recognised in a sense that this also brings relief, relief from what felt like the
perpetual agony of not knowing and relief in now knowing that at least Oliver is
not suffering in any way.
And so on behalf of all Oliver’s family, I would like to welcome you to this service
to remember and give thanks for a wonderful young man taken from us so
tragically young. We also meet to give thanks for Oliver and all the love,
friendship and happiness he gave, a life of generosity and of care, of quiet faith
but above all one of love – love of music, literature and nature, but above all love
of people – as son, brother, friend, colleague, teacher but especially as husband to
Shelley and as Thea’s daddy.
Can I just say that all are welcome to receive Holy Communion or to come forward
for a blessing. All are also invited to stay behind at the end for refreshments (and
there are loads of them) so please do so and, if you have time, after that to join
Richard and Gail, Oliver’s parents, at the Apex Hotel for drinks.
There will be a retiring collection in aid of Skye Mountain Rescue, an entirely
voluntary organisation that did so much to search for Oliver when he went
missing. And lastly there is a book to record your attendance and any memories
you wish to share. Can I just ask that if you are able to stay for refreshments that
you allow those who cannot to fill it in first.
And so now, as we gather, I invite you, if you are able or wish to, to stand to pray.
Let us pray:
Living God
you love us with an everlasting love
and you alone can turn the shadow of death
into the light of the morning sky.
Help us to endure the grief and pain of this time.
In the silence of this time speak to us of eternal things.
Help us to listen to the words used in this service
so that we may be lifted from our sadness,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
music: Russian Orthodox
God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Trusting in this love, we pray:
Loving God, we have not always loved you with our whole hearts:
ALL sing:
ALL sing:
ALL sing:
Loving Christ, we have not always loved our neighbours
Christe eleison...
Loving Spirit, we have not always loved ourselves
Kyrie eleison...
God who is both power and love,
forgive us and free us from our sins,
heal and strengthen us by the Holy Spirit,
and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.
God our maker, your creative will gives life to all that is:
your lifegiving power brings us to birth and raises us from death.
Take your son, Oliver, into your keeping
and give him the new life that is promised in Jesus Christ our Lord.
read by Will Greenstock
A reading from the book of Ecclesiastes.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time
to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time
to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw
away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to
refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time
to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time
to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
setting: © 1992, Bernadette Farrell
O God, you search me and you know me.
All my thoughts lie open to your gaze.
When I walk or lie down you are before me:
ever the maker and keeper of my days.
You know my resting and my rising.
You discern my purpose from afar,
and with love everlasting you besiege me:
in every moment of life or death you are.
Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,
you have known its meaning through and through.
You are with me and beyond my understanding:
God of my present, my past and future, too.
Although your Spirit is upon me,
still I search for shelter from your light.
There is nowhere on earth I can escape you:
even the darkness is radiant in your sight.
For you created me and shaped me,
gave me life within my mother's womb.
For the wonder of who I am I praise you:
safe in your hands, all creation is made new.
read by: Jo Smith
A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians.
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy
gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all
mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but
do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over
my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It
does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in
wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all
things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues,
they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part,
and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to
an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a
child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a
mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will
know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide,
these three; and the greatest of these is love.
music: Jacques Berthier, © 1984 Altiers et Presses de Taizé
Alleluia sung first by choir, thereafter by ALL
We turn to face the Gospel book as it is carried amidst the congregation
Speak, O Lord, we are listening,
for you have the words of everlasting life.
GOSPEL – John 14: 1-7, 27
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,
according to John.
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
Jesus said to his followers:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my
Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told
you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I
will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be
also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him,
‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus
said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world
gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious Gospel.
Praise to Christ our Lord.
then ALL sing:
Richard Smith (for Gail and Richard Smith – Oliver’s mum and dad)
Dearest Oliver,
The most wonderful son. We were blessed to have you in our lives.
You were a gentle, bright child who we adored from the moment you were born.
We are a close family and we, your parents and your sister, Victoria, cared for you
and you always cared for us.
Oliver was a deep thinker and loved all God's creatures whether they be plants,
birds, animals or his fellow man.
His amazing achievements, both professionally and personally, will be recounted
by others but we are very proud of all of them. In particular, his love of Scotland
and his family are of special note.
He leaves a legacy at St Andrews that exceeds so many lifetime careers but was so
cruelly cut short. Likewise his family...Shelley, his wife, Thea, his daughter, will
forever love him for the brilliant loving husband and father he was and how
totally involved he wanted to be in their welfare.
Like all such men who push boundaries to create a better more just society, they
also push their personal boundaries as we are sure Oliver did on that fateful day.
It is some comfort that on Skye he was in one of the most beautiful places on
Earth and he was with God. I hope, in the future, that you will join me in the quest
to make the hills and mountains of the UK a safer place. Oliver was massively
religious and he walked the hills to be closer to God. John Muir, the Scots born
founder of the modern conservation movement encouraged everyone to "keep
close to nature's heart" and Oliver certainly did. John Muir said "Going to the
mountains was like going home, that wilderness is a necessity"...and for Oliver it
We must, therefore, all trust that he is home, safe in God's hands to be reunited
with us at some future date.
We promise you, Oliver, that with Victoria we will support your wife and daughter
and will do our utmost to ensure that Thea grows into a happy and capable adult
in the hope that she would wish to follow the example set by her dad and make a
'difference' in her adult life.
Our grieving is the price of so many wonderful memories of great times together.
These memories can never be taken away and we will look back on them forever.
We will love you forever.
We will always miss you.
We will treasure our memories.
And we will continue to have great pride in your many achievements.
May your memory on Earth and your Presence with God sustain us all in the
No Goodbyes please, till we meet again...may Gods hand be with you and with us
As Oliver said at his Grandfathers funeral "we are all heirs to your kind, gentle,
loving and beautiful personality; we all carry you with us in our hearts and minds.
Your spirit is here with us now and will be so long as we live. Where you have
gone we are not given to know, and how we follow we also don’t know. But our
hope us to see you again face to face."
You were a blessing to all of us, Oliver.
May light shine perpetual upon you as you shone on all of us.
Victoria Smith (Oliver’s sister)
The story of union and separation, of life and of death are within us all but, today,
saying goodbye to Oliver, seems so unfair, so premature. How can we be thankful
for knowing him, when the pain of losing him consumes us? And so, amidst the
loneliness of grief, it's easy to remember Oliver and feel sad. But I'm convinced
Oliver wouldn't want us to remember him this way, and neither do I.
As I say my final goodbye to Oliver today I pray that we will someday, in another
place, another time, meet again. And in saying goodbye what is left is not an
empty space or a loneliness, it is eternal hope. Hope that grants me the strength
to be grateful for the time that we shared, and to rejoice in the wonderful person
that he was.
I pray for all those who love and care for Oliver, as I do, that the pain and loss
need not destroy us, but lead us to a greater wisdom and a deeper courage to
continue the journey of life. The journey that will eventually reunite us with Oliver
once again.
Having been blessed to share a happy childhood with Oliver, and many happy
times since, I have simply too many memories to recount to you today, but one
thing I want to share, is how very proud I am to be his sister.
As those of you who knew Oliver will know, he was the very best of God's
creations. Yet, with all he had to offer, he was never boastful or quick to judge but
defined by his patience and his kindness. Because of these qualities, Oliver was
always a source of great comfort to me and I will continue to feel his gentle,
loving presence as I struggle to become a better person.
He, more than anyone, was able to appreciate the innate goodness in others and
each time I'm able to accept someone for who they are, each time I'm able to love
without condition, I hope to continue his legacy. A legacy which, to my mind,
began with our beloved Granddad, Horace. I still raise a smile, and I know Oliver
did also, upon recalling how, having received a lengthy synopsis of Oliver's book,
Granddad responded by saying "well no one's going to read that Oliver".
Thankfully they did, indeed continue to do so, and his book serves as yet another
example of how gifted Oliver really was.
Growing up, Oliver and I were great friends yet not immune to childish squabbles.
The occasional Chinese burn or dead arm punch would sometimes befall me if my
incessant annoyance became too much for even Oliver to bear. But he was never
cruel and, as we grew up, our relationship blossomed. Sadly, however, we have
been separated too soon but Oliver will always have a place in my heart not just
as a big brother but as a best friend, a confidante and someone whose spirit I will
always admire.
I don't believe Oliver was afraid of death because he understood that it's only our
physical bodies that belong to the earth whilst our spirit, entrusted to God, is
perpetual. And if summer were not to give way to autumn and winter, springtime
and its new life would never embrace us.
Oliver - I pray that you go safely. Know that you're loved, know that you're missed,
but know that more than anything we wish for your happiness. May the blessing
of God be with you and, in your undying spring, "May light perpetual shine upon
you". Amen
It is well with my soul – text: H G Spafford; music: Philip P Bliss
sung by David Wilson
Claire Whitehead (colleague and friend)
I first met Oliver in the summer of 2008 when Roger Keys and I interviewed him
for one of two Teaching Fellow positions in the Russian Department at St
Andrews. I distinctly remember him walking into the room to give his
presentation, dressed in a collarless shirt and a linen jacket that appeared to be
just slightly too big for him. It’s an outfit I learned to love, because it was about as
close to formal wear as Oliver ever got. And, in it, he looked like a strange cross
between a teenage boy pretending to be an adult and a man far far wiser than his
young years. In spite of great references, Oliver was not one of our favoured
candidates for the job on paper simply because he was not as experienced as
some of the other applicants. But, he just blew us away with the academic rigour
of his presentation, his command of his subject, and his fantastic communication
skills, particularly his beautiful, beautiful Russian. We instantly knew that he
would be a huge asset to our department: a great teacher for our students, a
driven and ambitious scholar and an easygoing, fun colleague.
In spite of having no doubts that we had found a real star that day in summer
2008, in his five years in the Department, Oliver far surpassed all of our
expectations. We shouldn’t really have been surprised, given that Oliver’s talents
and qualities in the field of Russian Studies were recognized when he was still an
undergraduate. Dr Jonathan Sutton, who taught Oliver at Leeds recalls how he
wrote his excellent final-year dissertation on ‘Ecstasy in Dostoevsky and Scriabin’
almost completely unsupervised, and was then awarded the Tuckton House prize
for the best all-round performance by a final-year student.
At St Andrews, our students were treated to an education by one of the sharpest
and most enthusiastic minds of his generation, and they will all have benefitted
from being exposed to him as both a teacher and a human being. I will forever
miss the knocks at my office door which heralded Oliver’s entrance with another
amusing tale of what had happened in one of his classes. One of my favourites
was the morning he walked in, wreathed in smiles, to inform me that one of the
students in his Honours module on Russian intellectual history had just given a
presentation on the Slavophile/Westerniser debate which was accompanied by a
PowerPoint presentation in which all the main players (conventionally serious
figures such as Alexander Herzen and Nikolai Chernyshevsky) were represented by
cartoon figures with the heads of dogs and cats! He had not quite known what to
do with himself, but had nevertheless conjured up some constructive criticism on
the non-pictorial content of the presentation. But I think this example speaks
volumes of the intellectual inventiveness that Oliver often inspired in his students.
As colleagues, we all had much to learn from Oliver’s drive, mastery of various
areas of Russian Studies, and his commitment to both the present and the future
of the subject. Indeed, for Ruth Coates, who teaches at Bristol University, Oliver
was the future of research into Russian religious thought. In 2010, he and I
coorganised a conference on the Caucasus, with another colleague from
International Relations. When we first started planning, Oliver was little more
than a year into the job with us, and yet it was he who had the idea of the
conference theme, knew most of the names of the high-profile speakers we should
be inviting, and wrote the vast majority of the successful funding application. I
cannot begin to count the number of times that my colleagues and I have knocked
on Oliver’s door, knowing that he was probably the only person who could help.
Of course, it is not absolutely true to say that Oliver was always there when you
needed him. There were all those times when I went looking for him, only to find
that he was holed up in a small map cupboard hidden away down a lost corridor
in the Quad, playing the three hundredth game of Scrabble with Dave Evans from
the French Department. By the way, Oliver, Dave will never forgive you for leaving
him with the score in the current year at 3:2 to you.
For all of his myriad talents as an academic, what mattered most to very many of
Oliver’s colleagues at St Andrews was simply that he was a great person and a
wonderful friend. We loved and admired his honesty, his loyalty, his
thoughtfulness, his generosity, his passion, his commitment and his dry wit. I will
forever treasure a series of emails that Oliver sent me last spring, about an
incredibly mundane admin task we shared, all of which were introduced, for no
apparent reason, by lines from various Motown songs! And through Oliver, many
of us were privileged to have met and made friends with Shelley and then with
Thea. In their company, we often indulged our mutual interests of cooking,
drinking, walking, sports, music, photography, talking about how great our
children are, and just having a laugh.
Oliver's death leaves a huge hole in the Russian Department and the School of
Modern Languages at St Andrews, as well as in the field of Russian Studies in the
UK and internationally. And it is a hole that can never be filled. But he lives on in
the minds of the many students whom he inspired; in the body of brilliant research
that he published in his brief career; and in the hearts of those colleagues and
friends whose lives he touched and enriched so beautifully.
Roger Keys (colleague and friend)
Oliver was with us in St Andrews for a little less than five years, but during that
time he left his mark on many of us in the University, particularly in the Russian
Department and in the School of Modern Languages. He came to us from the
School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London with the highest
recommendations. This, for example, is what Robin Aizlewood, the Director of the
School and Oliver’s research supervisor, had to say of him at the time: “He is
without doubt one of the most outstanding students I have come across in twenty
years of postgraduate teaching and research supervision. [His doctoral thesis]
promises to be a major contribution to the study of Soloviev and of Russian
religious philosophy.”
A couple of years later Oliver published his thesis as a monograph entitled
Vladimir Soloviev and the Spiritualisation of Matter, which attracted enthusiastic
reviews, including the following from the American theologian and philosopher
Stephen Webb: “Vladimir Soloviev is the hottest subject in theology today, but if
you are looking for an accessible introduction to him, this book is not it. It is better
than that. Oliver Smith has written a challenging and exceptional intellectual
biography of a thinker who stands so tall that it is hard to get an overview of him.
Indeed, Smith is so creative in meeting the Solovievian challenge that he has
produced an original and important theological treatise in its own right. What is
even more impressive is that the author is not a theologian, but a Lecturer in
Russian at the University of St Andrews. If Smith’s work is representative of his
field, then perhaps the next generation of theologians should be trained in
Russian rather than in Religious Studies.”
Colleagues in Russia were equally appreciative of Oliver’s scholarly work.
Professor Mikhail Maksimov of Ivanovo University has written to say that when he
met Oliver in 2011 soon after the publication of his book, he immediately asked
him to join the editorial board of the prestigious journal Soloviev Studies. Not
long ago Oliver wrote to him suggesting that he would like to organize a
conference entitled “Vladimir Soloviev as a Visionary”, devoted precisely to those
crucially important aspects of the philosopher’s thought that had been neglected
over the decades. Oliver, he writes, was a scholar who could identify the key
problems in the philosopher’s work – and write about them, beautifully.
Nor were Oliver’s academic interests confined to Russian philosophy. “While there
is much talk about interdisciplinarity, “ writes Robin Aizlewood, “very few can
cover disciplinary boundaries with the ease and conviction that Oliver could – in
philosophy, theology, cultural history and literature – while remaining absolutely
on top of each discipline itself.” He excelled also as a teacher. “We honour him in
our hearts,” writes one of his second-year students, “remember his kind eyes,
honest smile, caring personality, his creative energy, innovation and zest for
teaching.” He was a gifted musician, to boot, who introduced his students to the
accomplishments of the composer Aleksandr Scriabin as part of a wider
introduction to the art, literature and thought of the Russian Silver Age. Simon
Nicholls, pianist and musicologist , whom Oliver invited to St Andrews to lecture
on Scriabin and to give a concert performance some of his piano works earlier this
year, has this to say of him: “It was a privilege to know such an erudite, wise and
kind young man, even for a short time. The book on Soloviev, itself outstanding in
knowledge and understanding, shows the riches that were to come.”
For myself, I count the time that I spent working with Oliver as a privilege and a
joy. In my nearly forty years as a teacher, I have never known a more congenial
colleague, or a more honest and upright one. Oliver always managed to find the
time to help other people out, whether they were students or colleagues.
Professor Maksimov remembers how grateful he was for Oliver’s willingness to
take on the time-consuming drudgery of textual editing that accompanies the
production of any serious journal. Russian academics are routinely overwhelmed
by teaching burdens almost unknown in our country, in fact. “Oliver understood
this situation,” writes Professor Maksimov, “and we were able to lean on his
shoulder.” His kindness went hand in hand with a wry, self-deprecating sense of
humour. He and I used to joke about his name that, beautiful though it is, is rare
and has no real equivalent in Russian. I suggested the word “олово” which,
however, sounds harsher and has the disadvantage of denoting in Russian the
word for “tin”. Oliver took the suggestion seriously, but we ended by agreeing
that “tin man” was too reminiscent of the character in “The Wizard of Oz” and
who wanted to be thought of as lacking a heart? Who indeed, and Oliver was one
of the kindest people I have ever known and the dearest friend.
Oliver loved the Russian language and was exceptionally receptive to its rhythms
and resonances. When he was in Russia as a student, someone gave him some
valuable advice: if he really wanted to experience the language in its depth and
beauty, then he should study and learn the poetry of the language’s greatest
master, Aleksandr Pushkin. This Oliver did, and it was a joy to hear him recite,
from memory, stanza after stanza of Pushkin’s radiant verse. It is with a reading
in Russian and then in English of a poem by Pushkin that I should like to end my
words today.
Пора, мой друг, пора! покоя сердце просит —
Летят за днями дни, и каждый час уносит
Частичку бытия, а мы с тобой вдвоем
Предполагаем жить, и глядь — как раз умрем.
На свете счастья нет, но есть покой и воля.
Давно завидная мечтается мне доля —
Давно, усталый раб, замыслил я побег
В обитель дальную трудов и чистых нег.
It’s time, my friend, it’s time! The heart cries out for peace —
Day flies after day, and every hour bears away
A tiny grain of life, and you and I together
Think that we shall live, but suddenly — precisely now we die.
There is no happiness in the world, but there is peace and freedom.
Long have I dreamt of a most enviable fate —
Long have I, a tired slave, contemplated flight
To a distant dwelling-place of striving and pure abundance.
Soliloquy – Healey Willan
Revd Dave Shull (friend and pastor who conducted Oliver’s and Shelley’s
wedding service)
For 60 years, one of the most popular children’s books in the United States has
been Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte is a spider who makes friends with a pig named
Wilbur. When she learns he’s about to be turned into bacon, Charlotte decides to
save him. Into her web, she weaves the words “Some Pig!”, complete with the
exclamation mark. This makes Wilbur famous, thereby saving his life. To make
sure Wilbur stays safe, Charlotte continues to make use her gifts as a writer,
weaving into her web other words about Wilbur: “Terrific,” “Radiant,” and
After Charlotte dies, Wilbur realizes what made Charlotte so unique.
[Charlotte] was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who
is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both” (E.B. White, Charlotte's
Web, Harper Collins, 1952).
And Oliver was both. Oliver is both.
Oliver’s and my friendship began when he and Shelley lived down the alley from
me in Seattle back in 2003. Our friendship deepened because we wrote to each
other. We lived on the same continent for fewer than ten months. But between
the time he returned to London after I performed Shelley and Oliver’s Seattle
wedding in May 2004, and his death two months ago, my “Oliver and Shelley”
computer file shows he and I exchanged more than 40 letters.
These were not hastily-written two paragraph e-mails. When we wrote these
letters, we were never in a hurry. Because we knew these letters were the oxygen
and lifeblood of a friendship that was life-giving for both of us. In our letters, we’d
keep telling each other how much we wished we could have these “conversations”
face-to-face in a pub over a couple pints of bitter, instead of on different
continents in countries that speak what at times are unrecognizable versions of
the same language. But we knew that was impossible. We could only express our
deepening respect and love for each other through words. So we wrote. And
wrote. And wrote.
Why were a mere 10 months down the alley from each other enough to birth a
friendship with someone who became one of the people I love most in this world?
I think it’s because we put flesh and bones on the love God has for each of us.
When it can be so hard in this life to feel God close and trust God walks with us,
our friendship and letters helped us feel like God was holding us in strong, tender
I took piano lessons from Oliver in Seattle. He’s the only music teacher I’ve ever
had who played Chopin one minute and then quoted some outrageous Monty
Python sketch the next.
I’m never happier than when I’m in some passionate, intense conversation about
theology and the Bible. In the circles I travel, people don’t exactly stand in line to
discuss such matters. When Oliver and I discovered we shared this odd passion, I
felt like the Kingdom of God had come to our street. Here’s this high-church
Anglican with strong affinities toward Russian Orthodoxy and this low-church
Protestant of a different generation. Who discovered common ground in our deep
love for the Trinity, and our desire to walk the way of Jesus in a world that finds
non-violence, compassion, and sacrifice quaint and irrelevant.
Oliver and I also walked beside each other through times of depression. When
one of us found ourselves mired in that uniquely lonely and joyless place, the other
knew how to help him feel less alone. The words we wrote helped each other feel
more human. And helped us imagine hope and light could fill us again.
Because our letters to each other nourished our friendship, I want to share a bit of
the wit and the wisdom of this man I came to love so much.
While in the library at University College London in 2005, Oliver wrote:
Beside me sits a representative of the older generation of students who is
typing with two rather unwieldy forefingers. Not content with this,
however, he feels it necessary to end each typed thought with a theatrical
flourish, his finger bouncing off the keyboard as off a trampoline,
performing a stylized knuckle-pirouette, and falling on the desk as he rocks
back in his chair, content with another well-told word.
In July 2012:
This 'summer' in Fife has been one long, and very cruel, joke without a
punchline. I sit here as another overcast day disappears into night, and can
count the hours of sun we've seen in the last few months on a single,
anaemic hand….Apparently, the weather systems have come to a grinding
halt, meaning areas of low/high pressure are not moving on as they usually
do. Thus the heatwave in Eastern US (give us back our sun, ye colonies!)
and the grey skies over Scotland….
And in that same letter:
Thea of course is a constant delight. She is now standing up holding the
sofa, and her first tooth came through on your independence day, the 4th of
July (I took it as a sign that she will once more put down the restless
colonies; Shelley thought otherwise).
Several years ago, I wrote to Oliver about feeling deeply stuck in my life. When he
wrote back, Oliver said he’d been going through a long period of depression. But
out of that place of deep darkness, he brought me the saving light of Christ. The
day I got his letter, I wrote right back to him:
Oliver, [what you call] your ‘disparate ramblings’ came to me like rain on
parched earth. A sung prayer setting of Psalm 143 sings, “I stretch out my
hand toward You; I am like dry, waterless ground: bring me news of Your
love every morning.” This morning you have brought me such news, Oliver.
And my tears as I write this are tears of gratitude to you, and deep love for
you. Such a friend you are. Such an instrument of God’s embrace.
Finally, a word for us from Oliver about suffering. That country through which all
of us have been wandering aimlessly and tearfully these past two months.
In February 2006, Oliver wrote,
Suffering is not a ‘problem’ for the enquiring mind to reconcile within an
elegant construct of one sort or another, but a call to the will and to feeling
to shine as lights of empathy, compassion and love.
I hear him telling us to honour and give room to our suffering. Only then can we
be free to stand with others who suffer, and hold them in the compassion and love
we received in our suffering.
And in a letter two months later:
The first two beatitudes are ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven’ and ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be
comforted’. Christ is truly with those whose suffering is too much to bear,
those who must suppress pain to cope with what is happening around
The past two months, all of us have had to suppress the pain of grief, anger,
shock, disbelief, and profound sadness so we could cope with the demands of
daily life. I don’t believe I’ve cried as much and as often for anyone as I have for
For it is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good
writer. Oliver is both.
Shelley Jacobsen
I met Oliver in 1998 when we were both studying Russian in Moscow and living in
the same dormitory at Moscow State University. Oliver was 19, and I was 24. We
both very much needed a good friend at the time, and this was the start of an
enduring friendship that, after about a year and a half, turned to romantic love as
well – but it was really the deep friendship we formed that first year together in
Russia that created the foundation of our fifteen-year relationship. And in those
fifteen years, I watched Oliver grow from a very young man--a university student
just starting to learn how to live on his own-- to a full-grown man, a successful
teacher and scholar, a loving husband and an incredible father.
There are countless things I loved about Oliver, and I’m afraid I didn’t tell him
enough how much I loved and admired him. He was charming, witty, gentle,
sensitive, playful, kind, talented, articulate, intelligent, passionate about life and
someone who both thought and felt deeply. He brought music and laughter into
my life, and also comfort and companionship in the face of pain. My family loved
Oliver as their own. My father described him as “a gentleman of the first order.”
In fact, my family loved Oliver so much that my brother Rick said that if I hadn’t
married Oliver, then someone else in the family would have had to.
Oliver liked to challenge himself, to push himself outside his comfort zone—and
I’m sure that is in part the origins of his interest in living in Russia and learning
Russian, trekking, taking on spiritual challenges like fasting and meditation. He
also liked to challenge others. He could approach things with a single-mindedness
and assurance that could be frustrating if you didn’t agree with him. Sometimes
his desire to push himself out of his comfort zone pushed me unwillingly out of my
own comfort zone too. I didn't always like it, but quite possibly it was good for me.
And it was this same determination that allowed him to endure clinical depression
and come out of it thriving, even if frustrated by its recurrences, and to achieve so
much in his personal and professional life at such a young age.
As a husband, Oliver was steadfast, thoughtful and above all, forgiving. If he and I
argued, 99% of the time it was Oliver who very soon would open his arms and say
let’s not fight, let’s give this up and embrace. This is probably the trait that I most
loved in Oliver, that I most wished I could emulate myself.
Of course I don’t need to tell anyone what a wonderful father Oliver was. It was
immediately evident if you saw Oliver and Thea together. He was completely in
love with Thea from the moment of her birth. He spent hours playing with her,
reading to her, playing the piano and singing with her. He helped me with her
night wakings and he got up early with her every day so that I could sleep,
including weekends. He adored her. I believe that the arrival of Thea trumped the
day of our marriage blessing in 2005 as the happiest day of his life. He was
prouder of being Thea’s Dada than all of his talents and achievements put
Not long ago, Oliver shared with me that one of his worst fears as a parent was
dying young and not being able to watch Thea grow up. It’s still unbelievable to
me that his worst fear has come true, and I know that had he had any real sense
of the risk he was taking on that mountain, he would never have climbed it—for
Thea’s sake. I grieve for them both. I grieve Oliver’s loss of the opportunity to be
an active part of his beautiful daughter’s life, and I grieve Thea’s loss of a
wonderfully affectionate and fun father and all that he could have shared with
her. I hope that you will all join me in helping Thea to remember the wonderful
man who was her father, in helping me to keep his memory alive for her.
Our last time at church together as a family before Oliver died was Easter Sunday.
Thea had grown hungry and tired and had fallen asleep on me as we sat in the
pew. It came time for the Eucharist. Oliver was very intent that I not miss the
Easter Eucharist, but I said no, it was best for me not to disturb Thea. He offered
to ask Jeremy to bring the Eucharist to me, but again I declined. When Oliver
returned from taking the Eucharist, he came up to me with a smile and handed
me a small piece that he had broken from his own communion wafer and saved
for me. This gesture was so touching and so very Oliver, his generosity of spirit, his
completely genuine and pure desire to share his faith in the miracle of divine love
[made manifest]. It seemed fitting somehow that the day on which he was found
this month and the first Sunday I had returned to church since Oliver went
missing, we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi, the celebration of the
Our love, especially my love, was an imperfect, earthly, human love. Oliver’s faith
was complex and he was the first to admit that he struggled with his faith at
times. Nonetheless he tried to hold fast to his belief in a loving God who cares
about the world and its suffering, who in fact suffers with the world, a faith in
resurrection and the transformation of our imperfect earthly bodies and lives, a
faith that our earthly lives may end but that this is not the end of life and of love.
We have lost Oliver. There is no way to bring him back to our here and now, to
enjoy him again as we knew and loved him, and that reality is bitter and painful.
But we can hope as Oliver hoped that love is stronger than death. After he went
missing, I found among his papers, a postcard from a London friend written for his
birthday in 2008. It read, ‘Untamable earth; Frontier of Beauty & danger. Life once
Lost, is found’. I hope that Oliver's gentle spirit has been found, that he has been
encircled with a more perfect and eternal love, that he has gone home, and that
this home will be ours to share with him too one day.
The Very Revd Jeremy Auld
We have heard this afternoon many beautiful tributes to Oliver from so many
different people and what is clear to me and I am sure to us all is that this was one
truly remarkable man who achieved and gave to the world far more in his short 33
years of life than most of us could only dream of in 80 or more.
At Oliver’s burial this morning in the beautiful woodlands around Crieff in
Perthshire, there was a strangely beautiful peace. Oliver’s disappearance for so
many weeks was such a difficult time for so many people and of course none more
so than Shelley and her family and Oliver’s parents and his family. Times of
despair fearing the worst but hoping for something different and the difficult
consequences of that. Oliver was lost and so were so many of us. But now that
he is found, that sense of peace comes in his finally finding his place of abiding
which, incredibly tragic though this end be, brings a certain peace to us too.
Oliver, I knew, to be a man of such deep faith searching always for God and yet
recognizing that presence all around him. He certainly found something of God in
church through liturgy and music and people gathered but also in nature for
which he had the deepest respect and so it seemed so right to lay him to rest
where we did knowing Oliver believed that his final place of abiding would be with
the God for whom he searched, the same God who searched him out and knew
And so we gather to mark a life so full of achievement and so full of future
promise so tragically cut short and, sure, we give thanks for and celebrate all that
Oliver has given us and the world. But we all gathered here overwhelmingly feel
that huge sense of loss which will find different expressions in each of us at
different times – anger, grief, numbness. And we must never be tempted to
minimize that loss or seek refuge from it in words alone and certainly not in pious
platitudes; rather we must be there for each other who were close to Oliver and
especially Shelley and Thea and for those who pray, to pray for them and for each
other. Most here can in some way understand that pain and separation. Most of
us have had the experience of letting go of someone through death. Death is a
certainty, as certain as our birth. It is never easy to let go of someone who is dear
to you but especially when it feels like the wrong time – a void is left that can only
ever be filled by that person because that person is unique - Oliver was unique - a
unique son, brother, husband, father, friend, colleague, writer, teacher.
And so we need to keep our memories alive – we need to talk about Oliver – our
human heart needs that to be reminded that however you understand it, life is
never completely ended. It is what Christian faith, Oliver’s faith tells us - that
death does not delete, erase or end life. Rather, Life is changed, not ended.
The message in both that well-known passage from St Paul’s first letter to the
Corinthians and that heavenly vision painted in the Gospel reading today is the
message Jesus lived his entire life: that the God who is love is all around us and at
work in your life – something Oliver passionately believed. And it is this: suffering
and sadness; darkness and death might make it very hard to see, but in every hour
of your life and mine, the love that can never die is always there; and Christ’s
message is this: will you allow life with all its pain to paralyze you or will you be
transformed by love?
Will you live, recognising that Oliver lives on. He is alive in the picture on the front
of this order of service, in the memories and reminders we have of him in our own
lives. He is alive when we do the things he loved, cherish the things he cherished.
He lives on in his family and especially in beautiful little Thea and in the
personality traits that he inherited from others or rubbed off on others. Will you
live believing that he is now gathered up into that love that is God where all is
healed, all is forgiven, where love is complete?
Because if you do, you in turn will be transformed into people who cherish each
moment, who let no loving word go unspoken, who notice the tears of others and
stand with them.
Oliver’s death is not something to be got over – we and especially those who were
really close to Oliver will never get over it but allowing ourselves to be
transformed by love will, in time, allow us in time to carry Oliver’s death with us
as gently as possible.
Today, we hold gently to our heart Oliver’s memory forever, alive in God. May he,
through the mercy of God rest in peace and may we live as people destined for
eternity, as people transformed by love.
God be in my head – text: Sarum Primer; music: Ian Higgison
Prayers written by Revd Nicki Wilkins;
read by her husband, Tony Lang.
O creator God, we thank you for the earth, our home. For the trees, the big sea
and sky, the mountains, and the birds, we thank you. Give us the wisdom to use
its resources wisely so we can protect its beauty. O gracious God, hear our prayer.
O God of love, we thank you for our communities. We pray that nations know
peace, that our churches reflect your love, that the less fortunate find food and
shelter, and that the depressed find hope. O God, we especially pray for this
gathered community today—Oliver’s community. Be with us in our deep sadness
for the loss of our dear dear friend. Comfort us. Oh gracious God, hear our
O God of wisdom, we thank you for the ability to seek truth and meaning in our
everyday lives. We thank you for the spirit of wonder that Oliver inspired in us, in
his writing, his teaching, and his parenting. O gracious God, hear our prayer.
O God of friendship, we thank you for Oliver. We celebrate all that was good
about him--his creativity, his passion, his hospitality, his wisdom, his love, his
music, his commitment to creation, and his deep desire to always move closer to
you. O gracious God, hear our prayer.
O God of compassion, may Oliver’s spirit peacefully rest in you and may his love,
his joy, and his passion live on in us. O gracious God, hear our prayer.
We ask these prayers in the name of the Creator, The Redeemer, and the
Sanctifier, Amen.
The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said,
'Peace be with you.'
The peace of the Lord be with you all.
And also with you.
We meet in Christ’s name.
Let us share his peace.
We share a sign of Peace with one another.
text: Robert Robinson (1735-90)
music: ‘Nettleton’ - John Wyeth (1770-1858)
Come, thou fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy never ceasing
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise his name, I'm fixed upon it,
name of God's redeeming love.
Here I find my greatest treasure;
hither by thy help I've come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.
Beloved God,
you call us to your table
to celebrate this joyful feast.
Receive all we offer this day
with our grateful thanks and praise.
music: Russian Orthodox
Worship and praise belong to you, Author of all being.
Your power sustains, your love restores, our broken world.
You are unceasingly at work,
from chaos bringing order and filling emptiness with life.
Christ, raised from the dead, proclaims the dawn of hope.
He lives in us that we may walk in light.
Your Spirit is fire in us,
your breath is power to purge our sin and warm our hearts to love.
As children of your redeeming purpose,
freed by him who burst from the tomb and opened the gate of life,
we offer you our praise, with angels and archangels
and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:
music: Russian Orthodox
ALL sing:
The Presider continues:
Praise and thanksgiving be to you…
After ‘…Do this in remembrance of me.’ we all say:
We now obey your Son’s command.
We recall his blessed passion and death,
his glorious resurrection and ascension;
and we look for the coming of his Kingdom.
Made one with him, we offer you these gifts
and with them ourselves,
a single, holy, living sacrifice.
Then after ‘…and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.’ we all say:
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body
to live and work to your praise and glory;
may we grow together in unity and love
until at last, in your new creation,
we enter into our heritage
in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets,
and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.
The Presider then sings:
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
with whom, and in whom,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory be to you,
Lord of all ages, world without end.
We all then sing:
The living bread is broken for the life of the world.
Lord, unite us in this sign.
music: Russian Orthodox
Rejoicing in God’s presence here among us,
as our Saviour has taught us, so we pray:
Come all people: this is Christ’s table to which all are invited.
Come, for all is now ready.
Thanks be to God.
music: Russian Orthodox
At the giving of the bread:
The Body of Christ, the Bread of Life.
At the giving of the cup:
The Blood of Christ, the Cup of Salvation.
ALL are welcome to receive Communion.
All are invited to come forward to the front of the nave when guided by a steward.
If you would rather receive a Communion Blessing,
please come forward with your hands clasped in front of you.
Those seated in the side aisles are asked to go to the back of the church and approach the
altar via the central aisle, then return to their seat via the side aisles.
It would be helpful if those seated in the centre of the nave
could return to their seat via the side aisles.
text: Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871)
music: ‘Saffron Walden’ - Arthur Henry Brown (1830-1926)
Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, healing of the mind,
yea all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve:
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am (thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down),
now to be thine, yea thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, of that free love
the breadth, length, depth and height to prove,
here for a season then above,
O Lamb of God, I come!
text: Samuel Crossman (1624-83)
music:’Love Unknown’ - John Ireland (1879-1962)
My song is love unknown,
my Saviour's love to me,
love to the loveless shown,
that they might lovely be.
O who am I,
that for my sake
my Lord should take frail flesh, and die?
He came from his blest throne,
salvation to bestow;
but people scorned, and none
the longed-for Christ would know.
But O, my Friend,
my Friend indeed,
who at my need his life did spend!
Sometimes they strew his way,
and his sweet praises sing;
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King.
Then 'Crucify!'
is all their breath,
and for his death they thirst and cry.
Here might I stay and sing:
no story so divine;
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like thine!
This is my Friend,
in whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.
ANTHEM – sung by choir
Nunc Dimittis – music: Tone viii; Faux-bourdons by Carolus Andreas
Blessed be God:
Creator of light and life.
Loving God,
we have shared the feast, the sign of your kingdom,
and you have met us here as you promised.
Go with us in love;
make us bearers of your peace;
and let our lives be signs of hope for all your people.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Oliver shared his life with us:
may God give eternal life to him.
Oliver gave his love to us:
may God give deep love to him.
Oliver gave his time to us:
may God give eternity to him.
Oliver gave his light to us:
may God give everlasting light to him.
May Oliver this day,
be in the hands of the God who made him,
find life in Christ who redeemed him,
rejoice in the Spirit who renews him.
May the company of the redeemed enfold him;
may peace be his this day,
and the heavenly city his home.
Wherever you go, may the love of God be with you,
wherever you go, may the peace of Christ be with you,
wherever you go, may the joy of the Spirit be with you,
wherever you go, the blessing of God:
Source of all being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit,
be with you,
those you love and for whom you pray,
this day and always.
text: Charles Wesley (1707-88)
music: ‘Hyfrydol’ - Richard Huw Pritchard (1811-87)
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesu, thou art all compassion,
pure unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter every trembling heart.
Come, almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee, without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.
Finish then thy new creation,
pure and spotless let us be;
let us see thy great salvation,
perfectly restored in thee,
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise!
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ.
Toccata – Georgi Mushel (1909-89)
There is a retiring collection in aid of Skye Mountain Rescue Team
The family thank you for being here today
and invite you to join them for refreshments
which will be served in the Cathedral.
Following refreshments in the Cathedral,
Oliver's family invite you
to the mezzanine at the Apex Hotel for a drink.
The family would also be grateful if you could record your
presence here today, along with any memories of Oliver,
in a book which will be beside the west door of the Cathedral.
(To get to the Apex Hotel, turn right at the bottom of the cathedral steps,
then turn right into Commercial Street;
at the bottom of Commercial Street turn left onto South Marketgait;
keep walking until the pedestrian crossing;
cross the road at the crossing and you will by now be able to see the
Apex Hotel on the right hand side of West Victoria Dock Road.)
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.
TS Eliot, Four Quartets
T: + 44 (0)1382 22 44 86 OR (0)1382 646 296
E: [email protected]
T: + 44 (0)1382 22 44 86
E: [email protected]