Try a six month print or digital Life and Work subscription


Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Please confirm that you are happy to hear from The Church of Scotland:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit the Privacy Policy on our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: In Memory of Harry Lauder

Looking Back

Image: archives-pic_cropped.jpg

Looking Back: in Memory of Harry Lauder

In April 1950, C. Arthur Robertson wrote this personal piece in memory of singer and comedian Sir Harry Lauder, who had died on February 26 that year.

Beneath The Motley

Three memories of Sir Harry Lauder

“Still keep something to yourself ye scarcely tell to ony.”

Surely everything has been said of Sir Harry Lauder that can be said! Yet I would like to sketch three pictures which will be new to many of his admirers, which I shall never forget, and which, I believe, reveal the man as he was.

The first scene is laid on a homeward journey from Erskine Hospital. With song and story, Sir Harry has been helping the patients to forget for a little their broken bodies and their shattered hopes. Laughter has rung out from the wards in constant peals. Now the man who has caused it, the centre of all the merriment, is on his way home in his car with his niece. Only a little distance has he gone when his companion notices a change in him. The laughter has fled, the cheeks are wet with tears. “Poor souls,” he murmers, “what have they to look forward to?”

And then, very quietly, come the whispered strains,

“Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly!”

The second scene is in Sir Harry’s bedroom at his home. On the first storey, its windows look out on the Kype Hills and the heights above the Covenanting fields of Drumclog. Night after night, before he retires, he stands at those windows, gazing into the distance. And there breaks from his lips, a song – older than “I love a lassie”, more tender than “The Wee House ‘mang the Heather” – a song that has been sung for three thousand years:

“I to the hills will lift mine eyes,
From whence doth come mine aid.”

One last scene a day or two after his death. It is again the same room, now pervaded with a solemn silence deeper than that of sleep. Near by are piled messages of condolence and thanksgiving from King, ministers of state, nobles of the land, countless friends and admirers in all parts of the world. Near by, too, that little tribute, valued perhaps more than any other: a tiny bunch of violets paid for out of the pocket money of a young English girl he never knew. The old Minstrel lies there, his face still turned to the hills, still strong, resolute and kind, but now wonderfully serene and happy. His journey through life is over. He has come where “all he’s loved and been longing for,” has been found, ‘at the end of the road’.

Previous: Communion at Golgotha

Looking Back Menu