As the @StMikes_Exeter tweet said after the Requiem for John Hughes, “Even on the saddest occasions it is lovely to see old friends. Thank you to all who came tonight, whether from near or far.”
Thank you to well over 100 in the congregation at St Michael’s representing also St David’s, former clergy colleagues, and John’s family and many friends. Welcome visitors augmented the choir to 30, with Jason, Emily and Fiona as soloists, Neil working the large new pipe organ to great effect and Erika returning to conduct fine performances of the Fauré Requiem and Bainton’s anthem “And I saw a new heaven … And I John saw the holy city”. (We wish Erika well and every blessing as she takes up a teaching post in Cheltenham in September.)
The bell was tolled 35 times by Olive. The beautiful and moving service was presided over by Fr David Hastings with Fr David Walford and out Servers. Fr John Henton’s excellent and personal address will be printed in the September Parish Magazine. But there is space here for Canon John Thurmer’s insightful tribute which was printed in the Service booklet.
“John Mark David Hughes was a Devonian, from Kenton where he is buried. But he rejoiced in his Welsh ancestry and in the dedication of the parish church to St David, his own third name.
This Requiem at St Michael’s recalls not only his memorable ministry here, but also those rather eccentric weekday evening masses of the 1990s, to one of which he came as a schoolboy and reckoned it a turning point in his life.
At his death he was Fellow, Dean and Chaplain of Jesus College Cambridge, where Thomas Cranmer was a Fellow when he was called in 1533 to be Archbishop of Canterbury with momentous results.
John’s chaplaincy at Jesus embraced the whole College, Fellows, undergraduates, college servants and their families, and he had heavy teaching commitments in the Faculty of Divinity. His doctorate thesis on the theology of work was the basis of his book with the teasing title “The End of Work”.
He combined with unforgettable grace the work of the scholar and the loving kindness of the pastor. To each and every one according to need he was son, friend, father and teacher.
Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant with thy Saints where sorrows are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.”
It seems that the love of God first touched John, not through a book or an evangelist, but through the warm welcome of those cleaning and arranging flowers when a curious schoolboy made a detour into Kenton Church on his way home.
We now look forward to Friday 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated at St Michael’s with a Sung Mass at 7.30pm. Music will include the Setting Missa “Dixit Maria” by Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) and the Motet Ave Maria by Jacques Arcadelt (1505-1568).
Please join us; whatever your view of the theology of this Feast, the unique place of Mary in the Christian story of salvation is a cause for celebration.
Also Sunday 17th August, 6.30pm Evensong at St Martin’s in the Cathedral Close, EX1 1EZ.
Canticles: Gibbons Short Service. Anthem: Ave Maria, by Arcadelt.