For any who mourn, these words are a lovely comfort.

Posted: June 11, 2015 in Popular Culture et al, Religion
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

all is well

This is how I want it to be when I go. Beautiful, and apposite.

I posted it on Facebook this morning, and later on got a message from one of my oldest friends saying he was about to fly home to his mother’s funeral. His distress was somewhat alleviated; he now felt all is well.

God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.

I was so taken with the words that undertook to find out who wrote them. The writings are actually a poem written by Victorian churchman and academic Henry Scott Holland.

Holland (27 January 1847 – 17 March 1918) was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford. He was also a canon of Christ Church, Oxford. The Scott Holland Memorial Lectures are held in his memory.

He was born at Ledbury, Herefordshire, the son of George Henry Holland (1818–1891) of Dumbleton Hall, Evesham, and of the Hon. Charlotte Dorothy Gifford, the daughter of Lord Gifford, and educated at Eton where he was a pupil of the influential Master William Johnson Cory, and at the Balliol College where he took a first class degree in Greats. During his Oxford time he was greatly influenced by the philosopher and political radical T.H. Green.

In 1884, he left Oxford for St Paul’s Cathedral where he was appointed canon.

He was keenly interested in social justice and formed PESEK (Politics, Economics, Socialism, Ethics and Christianity) which blamed capitalist exploitation for contemporary urban poverty. In 1889, he formed the Christian Social Union.

In 1910, he was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity, a post he held until his death in 1918. He is buried in the churchyard of All Saints church, Cuddesdon near Oxford. Because of his surname, the writer, secretary and political activist Mary Gladstone (daughter of Prime Minister Gladstone) referred to him affectionately as “Flying Dutchman” and “Fliegende Hollander”.

While at St Paul’s Cathedral Holland delivered a sermon in May 1910 following the death of King Edward VII, titled Death the King of Terrors, in which he explores the natural but seemingly contradictory responses to death: the fear of the unexplained and the belief in continuity. It is from his discussion of the latter that perhaps his best-known writing, Death is nothing at all, is drawn: the frequent use of this passage has provoked some criticism that it fails to accurately reflect either Holland’s theology as a whole, or the focus of the sermon in particular. What has not provoked as much criticism is the affinity of Holland’s passage to St. Augustine’s thoughts in his 4th Century letter 263 to Sapida, in which he writes that Sapida’s brother and their love, although he has died, still are there, like gold that still is yours even if you save it in some locker.

Which is another sweet thought to end on.

  1. underwriiter505 says:

    I’m sure this makes me a world class grinch,so feel free not to approve it, but here is my take on this kind of quote: Your death is your business. My grief is my business. Don’t tell me how to grieve and I will not tell you how to die. (I also will not tell you how to grieve. If I go first, please feel free to grieve in any way that helps you.)

    I grant you that Pofessor Holland handled his advice exponentially better than the sloppy sentimental cr*p I have seen way too much of (ever hear of Helen Steiner Rice?) Also, please note that my position includes that if his advice helps, then by all means go for it.


  2. Pat A says:

    Thanks for the details about the Rev Henry Scott Holland – that is a lovely piece of prose, isn’t it? (It does seem odd that it didn’t ‘accurately reflect either Holland’s theology as a whole’ – why would one write something that didn’t do that? If it truly doesn’t, here’s a thought – divine intervention!)

    The odds against our lovely world existing are so great (we are told that if there were to be an error of any of the around 20 decimal points in the cosmic constant we would not be here), that I cannot believe that all of human existence ends with death – it would be illogical. Then there is personal experience and the personal experience of billions before me, that despite so many miseries and difficulties and injustices in the world, God IS love…


  3. Paul says:

    It actually made me cry


  4. Raquel rovick says:

    I thought this was the 4th letter of St Augustine of Hippo, one of the Father’s of the Church, not a Victorian poem!


    • Stephen Yolland says:

      It has often been noted that St Augustine of Hippo wrote something very similar, yes. Plaigiarism? Harder to prove.


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