David Nicholls Thanksgiving service

Thanksgiving Service to celebrate the Life and Work of
DAVID GWYN NICHOLLS, D.Litt (1936-1996)

St George’s Church, Bloomsbury, London
Saturday 21st September 1996 at noon

Preacher – Rowan Williams

Reception and lunch afterwards at the Fellowship Hall, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church

St George's, Bloomsbury  ArchdeaconDavid in characteristic pose

St George’s, Bloomsbury, where David served his title”the Ven. William Paley, Archdeacon emeritus”David chairing a meeting, in characteristic pose


Organ improvisation “Tribute to a Beloved Brother” played by Ian Hall (formerly Organist, Church of Christ the King, Gordon Square)

Service accompanied by Richard Vendome (Organist, SS Mary & Nicholas, Littlemore)
Singing led by the Oxford Girls’ Choir

Introit during procession of clergy:

Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things hath done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mother’s arms
hath blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son, and him who reigns
with them in highest heaven,
the one eternal God,
whom earth and heaven adore,
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.

[Martin Rinkart (1586-1649) trans. Catherine Winkworth (1827-78) ]

Introduction and opening prayers – Perry Butler (Vicar of St George’s, Bloomsbury)

Jewish Prayers – David Wizansky

A variation of Yiskor (“Remembrance”)
The mourner’s Kaddish (in Hebrew)

Reading: Isaiah 42, 1 – 7 – Victor de Waal

1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.”
5 This is what God the Lord says- he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills: but where shall I find help? 2 My help comes from the Lord: who has made heaven and earth. 3 He will not suffer your foot to stumble: and he who watches over you will not sleep.
4 The Lord himself is your keeper: the Lord is your defence upon your right hand.
5 The sun shall not strike you by day: nor shall the moon by night.
6 The Lord will defend you from all evil: it is he who will guard your life.
7 The Lord will defend your going out and you’re coming in: from this time forward and for evermore.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son: and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now: and shall be forever. Amen.

Reading from a sermon by John Donne (Preached at St Paul’s Cathedral, 1625) – Valerie Pitt

John DonneNo man is so little, as that he can be lost under these wings, no man so great, as that they cannot reach to him. To what temporall, to what spirituall greatnesse soever wee grow, still pray wee him to shadow us under his Wings; for the poore need those wings against oppression, and the rich against envy. The Holy Ghost, who is a Dove, shadowed the whole world under his wings; Incubabat aquis, He hovered over the waters, he sate upon the waters, and he hatched all that was produced, and all that was produced so, was good.

Be thou a Mother where the Holy Ghost would be a Father; Conceive by him; and be content that he produce joy in thy heart here. First thinke, that as a man must have some land, or els he cannot be in wardship, so a man must have some of the love of God, or els he could not fall under Gods correction; God would not give him his physick, God would not study his cure, if he cared not for him. And then thinke also, that if God afford thee a shadow of his wings, that is, Consolation, respiration, refreshing, though not a present, and plenary deliverance, in thy afflictions, not to thank God, is a murmuring, and not to rejoyce in Gods wayes, is an unthankfulnesse. Howling is the noyse of hell, singing the voyse of heaven; Sadnesse the damp of Hell, Rejoysing the serenity of Heaven.

And he that hath not this joy here, lacks one of the best pieces of his evidence for the joyes of heaven: and hath neglected or refused that Earnest, by which God uses to binde his bargaine, that true joy in this world shall flow into the joy of Heaven, as a River flowes into the Sea; This joy shall not be put out in death, and a new joy kindled in me in Heaven; But as my soule, as soone as it is out of my body, is in Heaven, and does not stay for the possession of Heaven, … but without the thousandth part of a minutes stop, as soon as it issues, is in a glorious light, which is Heaven…

As my soule shall not goe towards Heaven, but goe by Heaven to Heaven, to the Heaven of Heavens, So the true joy of a good soule in this worlde is the very joy of Heaven; and we goe thither, not that being without joy, we might have joy infused into us, but that as Christ sayes, Our joy might be full, perfected, sealed with an everlastingnesse; for, as he promises, That not man shall take our joy from us, so neither shall Death it selfe take it away, not so much as interrupt it, or discontinue it, But as in the face of Death, when he layes hold upon me, and in the face of the Devill, when he attempts me, I shall see the face of God, (for, every thing shall be a glasse, to reflect God upon me) so in the agonies of Death, in the anguish of that dissolution, in the sorrowes of that valediction, in the irreversablenesse of that transmigration, I shall have a joy, which shall no more evaporate, then my soule shall evaporate, A joy that shall passe up, and put on a more glorious garment above, and be joy super-invested in glory. Amen.


Gospel: Matthew 24, 1-13 – Kenneth Forrester (Archdeacon, Diocese of Trinidad and Tobego)

1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8 all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end will be saved.

Sermon – Rowan Williams (Bishop of Monmouth, later Archbishop of Canterbury)

Anthem: “Ascention” (John Donne, La Corona, 1618) music by Edward Dudley Hughes, composed in memory of David Nicholls, sung by the Oxford Girls’ Choir, conducted by the composer.

Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sunne, and Sonne,
Yee whose just teares, or tribulation
Have purely washt, or burnt your drossie clay;
Behold the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the darke clouds, which hee treads upon,
Nor doth hee by ascending, show alone,
But first hee, and hee first enters the way.
O strong Ramme, which hast batter’d  heaven for mee,
Mild Lambe, which with thy blood, hast mark’d the path;
Bright Torch, which shin’st that I the way may see
Oh, with thy owne blood quench thy owne just wrath,
And if thy holy Spirit, my Muse did raise,
Deigne at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.

Prayers – Alex Wedderspoon, Peter Clarke, John Metivier, Ron Henderson, Joseph O’Leary

Peace – Geoffrey Rowell (Bishop of Basingstoke)


To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Ascended, returning to God, on his throne,
Christ carried our nature, raised high on his own,
While here he prepares us his Spirit to claim,
To love him and serve him, his kingdom proclaim.

He dwells now in glory, yet still his hands show
The marks of his sufferings endured here below,
He comes to his people, to comfort, to guide
To raise them to glory, to sit at his side.

To God be the glory, great things he has done;
He raised Blessed Mary to reign with her Son,
The humble exalted, the poor raised on high,
She’s hope for the outcast, ‘Salvation is nigh’!

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
He guides and he helps us, our burdens to bear.
He strengthens his church and his people sustains,
Till all for his kingdom of justice he gains.

[Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915, verses 2-5 © David Nicholls]

Procession and depart – Rhythm Makers Steel Band