Extracts from the Funeral Service 16 September 2008

Some words of John Thoday, read by Jonathan Thoday, Son

"Since I was about 16 I have found religion makes no sense. Nevertheless I am sensible of the cultural debt we owe to religious houses and myths,

not least to the English Bible and prayer book for the influence on our wonderful English language.

So I would like to go out to the words in the prayer book I appreciated most. They are from evensong.

They are impressive for their resignation in the face of death, their delicious grammar, and their unusual religious and racial tolerance"


as chosen by John Thoday, and read by Antonia Thoday, Daughter

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace: according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen: thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared: before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles: and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

St. Luke ii 29 - 32 ( Book of Common Prayer )

A Shilling Life

A shilling life will give you all the facts:
How Father beat him, how he ran away,
What were the struggles of his youth, what acts
Made him the greatest figure of his day;
Of how he fought, fished, hunted, worked all night,
Though giddy, climbed new mountains; named a sea;
Some of the last researchers even write
Love made him weep his pints like you and me.

With all his honours on, he sighed for one
Who, say astonished critics, lived at home;
Did little jobs about the house with skill
And nothing else; could whistle; would sit still
Or potter round the garden; answered some
Of his long marvellous letters but kept none.

W.H.Auden (1907-1973)


Composed, written and spoken at the Funeral Service by Zoe Thoday, granddaughter, aged 8 years .