The online service came this week from our local MHA home and was presented as far as possible with and by the residents – all old, many affected by dementia and/or other frailties, and all knowing they have lived a long time but will not live for ever.
There was organ music.
An introduction by the minister from her own home.
Psalm 100: ‘Sing to the Lord all the world! Worship the Lord with joy …’
And then a resident spoke out the first lines of John: ‘In the beginning was the Word…..’. She went on for a distance into that introduction to the Gospel and then diverted to: ‘Amazing Grace’ – and we listened to a version of this, which was well played and sung.
Next choice took us to ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ – my mother’s favourite – we sang it at her funeral.
In this setting you had time to reflect on every word and what each meant to women – all women – who are together at Handsworth at this time.
Psalm 121 had been chosen by A but was read by Lucy, who is chaplain to the Home: ‘I look to the mountains: where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord who made heaven and earth.’
‘Then Rock of Ages cleft for me’ – sung by a choir or congregation.
‘Breathe on me breath of God’.
‘Be still for the presence of the Lord’ – introduced by S – with a lovely Irish accent.
‘O love, which will not let me go’ – a favourite of our close friend D who died at Handsworth on Monday. She had outlived her daughter and husband and remained a faithful joy to be with despite many hard knocks.
‘The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended’.
‘How Great Thou Art’.
All the hymns were chosen by residents one way or another. Every word carried more meaning than ever before – reflecting on life given, but not far from ending.
There were spoken messages from friends and family: W and P, M, Ph, T, Ju and Ja, M – and a poem from Wi and Al.
There were statements from staff and more from the minister.
This was a privileged insight into the thinking and feelings of lovely people living with the stress of lockdown and COVID- 19 on top of a lifetime’s collection of experiences.