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Funerals: a train-robber, and the Nunc Dimittis

31 January 2014


From the Revd Martin Oram

Sir, - I read the Revd Dave Tomlinson's article on his experiences after conducting Ronnie Biggs's funeral (Comment, 17 January) with an uncomfortable sense of having been there before, and wondering when we willlearn. . .

In one way or another, during my 32 years of full-time ministry in both parish and in education as a school chaplain, I found myself apologising for the Church and some of its members' (and clergy's) attitudes.

I am sure I am not alone in this. Many people have plenty of time for God, and want to know more of him, but their experience of church has been thoroughly off-putting, partly because they feel judged before they even cross the threshold.

Our huge privilege is to find ways to lead them to know God in Jesus Christ - and sometimes this means "Hang the Church!"

12 Ash Grove, Rode Heath
Staffs ST7 3TD


Sir, - I have recently attended three funeral services in different places, all of long-serving church members who had faithfully sung in the choir. In all three cases, the officiating priest recited the Nunc Dimittis at the end of the service, but in various modern translations.

When the people being laid to rest had sung the Nunc Dimittis at evensong in the Prayer Book translation for most of their lives, this seemed to me quite inappropriate. It may be, of course, that the families in question had specifically requested a modern translation; but somehow I feel that that is unlikely.

At least we were allowed to say the Lord's Prayer in the traditional form.

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