Eulogy for Rev Harry Miller

The funeral of the former Minister of Inchinnan Parish Church, Rev Harry G Miller took place on Tues 2nd August.

The Eulogy was delivered by his old friend Rev. Edward Andrews.

The death of Harry after many years of a slow decline has seen the completion of a distinguished life, and brought us to this Kirk of which Harry oversaw the building with that strange mixture of sorrow and joy which we often get on the death of someone who has been very old and who was wishing to go on.

So we are brought here for three reasons. To show our love and support for Harry's surviving family, his niece Agnes, his great nieces Doreen, Alison, Marion and his great nephew Michael and his wider family circle, and his friends so we gather as friends united in sorrow and in faith.

We are also here to remember life of Harry. Each of us have our own memories of him, they to us are the real Harry, and are memories to be treasured and recounted.

Harry had just celebrated his 97th birthday when he died. He takes us back into a world from which there are few survivors. Harry was from a family which passed at least three things on to him, his skill at music, his intellectual rigor and his faith. He came from a line of intellectuals. His father taught in what was then called the Glasgow Athenaeum School of Music, now the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and was also a church organist. Harry also was a musician, and many of us will remember his slipping from pulpit to keyboard when there as no organist.

After education at Glasgow Academy, Harry went to Glasgow University where, after his Arts degree, he obtained a BD with distinction in Systematic Theology - the point being that in those days only the very brightest students actually graduated in Divinity as a degree was not a requirement to be licensed. Harry spent four years as a licentiate as the assistant in Cathcart Old, before he was inducted as the minister of Lochgilphead. Harry could recount the practices of a bygone age. He use to blame his failure to be elected as minister somewhere in Ayrshire on the fact that when he got off the bus he was wearing a silk hat. This was the wrong signal to give as it marked him as a boss. Eventually Harry became the minister of Lochgilphead. This stretched back to the days when the only realistic way to go away was by steamer, and in wartime. At least on the steamer it was possible to talk to the Parish Priest if he was aboard.

It was only relatively shortly after he had moved to Lochgilphead that Doreen and her family came to live with Harry, and Harry provided a home for Doreen for the rest of her life.

From the comments which Harry made, and of course he was a born storyteller, you could listen spellbound to his stories for hours, the most notable thing about Inch was that Harry became the Clerk to the Presbytery of Stranraer.

As we think about Harry in Inchinnan, we have to remember that for most of his ministry the question of the replacement of the church at the bridge and the building of the magnificent new Church in which we are remembering him was the main focus. Harry was very fond of Inchinnan, and I hope that those of you who remember him will share with each other your stories of his care, and his eccentricities. For Harry was different.

I only got to know him after he got to Iona. I use to act a Beadle for the evening service. It was a privilege to attend and listen to his clear, erudite preaching where Harry really did expound the faith. After the service I would go in to the sacristy and help him off with his robes, and be entertained by his stories, confronted with his questions, and actually challenged in my understanding of life.

Harry had a wonderful eclectic circle of friends who popped up from all round the world. He provided support for many people.

Iona was an interesting place for Harry. As well as the Community at the Abbey there were a lot of things happening and a number of different events took place into which Harry was drawn. Harry didn’t always take these gatherings seriously. He was at one where he was asked what he was, and he answered that he was of the Archacondric of the Order of St Basil. The person went away much impressed. Actually Harry did look like a Greek orthodox priest, though his theology was generally reformed, though he did have a fascination with Unicorns. He actually was a born academic, and looked at things in the Kirk in a depth which escaped many.

Harry preached me into Ardrishaig which is the next door parish to Lochgilphead. He had just retired, somewhat unwillingly and had to be encouraged by two gentlemen from George St upon who a wave crept up and caught as they got off the Ferry. Harry was gently satisfied.

On Iona Harry had his band of hope, a number of single ladies who had designs on him. There was a picture of one of them in his room during his time in Renfrew.

So we remember Harry, Musician, scholar, preacher. He would have been the first to admit that he wasn’t that keen on the pastoral side of ministry, not because he didn’t care, he cared a lot, but because he could never quite get himself organised. His problems with timekeeping were legendary.

Above everything else Harry was an authentic human being whose personality was illuminated by his faith. He was a member of the Dunkeld fellowship, so of churchmanship high, but of faith deep. It is here thinking about Harry’s faith that we finish our short, very loose consideration of Harry’s life. He is in the care of God.

Let us therefore commit ourselves into the care of God, and his love, and give thanks for the life of Harry, rejoicing that he is in the care of our loving God, and asking for strength to go on.