Langholm Old Church Parish Magazine

No.137                       Price 1/8p - with LIFE AND WORK - 8d LOCAL MAGAZINE ONLY                        January 1973.

Minister: Rev. Tom Calvert, The Old Manse, Langholm. Tel. 256.

Session Clerk: Mr. Archibald Findlay, Langholm Lodge. Tel. 453.

Clerk to Board: Mr. E. C. Armstrong, Town Hall, Langholm. Tel. 255.

Treasurer: Mr. Robert C. Craig, 5 Rosevale Place, Langholm

Organist: Mr. A. C. Mallinson, A.R.C.O., L.R.A.M., 72 Henry Street.

Church Officer: Mr. W. Elliot, 3 Buccleuch Terrace.

Hall Caretaker: Mr. John Scott, 54 William Street.

Text for January and New Year: And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?" Genesis 47. 8.

Joseph had brought his family down from Canaan to Egypt because of the prolonged famine in his land. He is now presenting each member of his family unto his Lord Pharaoh by way of introduction. This is what occasioned the asking of this question of our text. For when he introduces his father Jacob, the grand old man, in typical Eastern fashion, blesses Pharaoh, and then Pharaoh asks him, "How old art thou?"

I suppose by now, and after so many sorrows and troubles, Jacob looks very old, and I imagine that like most elderly people it didn't cause him the slightest embarrassment to be asked his age. Indeed it is quite likely that like many elderly people he felt rightly proud of having attained to great age and still have his faculties.

"How old art thou?" This is a question we need to ask some people with caution as some don't like being asked their age. In the First World War days many a lad added a few years to his proper age in order to get enlistment.

The question I want to ask in my New Year message is not so much how many years have we lived, but rather how much have we lived, or what have we put into our years. For life is not to be measured by the number of years we live but what we do with our time, our days and years, how much have we felt and achieved?

First, a word about the glory of age.

Seton Gordon in his excellent book on the Highlands of Scotland quotes a proverbial saying common in some parts of Scotland today, a saying that has to do with the different ages different things live to attain. It runs like this: "Thrice the age of a dog, the age of a horse. Thrice the age of a horse, the age of a man. Thrice the age of a man, the age of a stag. Thrice the age of a stag, the age of an eagle. Thrice the age of an eagle, the age of an oak." And in another chapter Seton Gordon tells about the famous yew tree at Fortingall which is believed to be 3000 years old. As far back as 1772 its circumference was 56 feet, and it is an astonishing thing to think that this yew tree at Fortingall, just beyond Aberfeldy, was already 1000 years old when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

And in human life age is something to be proud of and to be respected and honoured. I remember reading in the papers of a Royal visit to Chelsea Royal Hospital and of how some of the old veterans on parade were in their 90s and of how one of them fainted under the strain of a very hot day, and when a medical orderly rushed forward to help him he stood up, pushed the orderly aside, and stood to attention in the parade as though nothing had happened.

I have happy memories of one of my old elders in my Portsmouth Church who was well into his 90s and who was on duty every Sunday and always at Communion. I recall how hurt he was one day when by mistake I referred to another member of the congregation as being the oldest. "No," he objected, "he is seven years younger than me."

Now while we honour and reverence age, my point is that it is not the number of years we live that matters, but what we put into our years.

Of course the length of life matters because it takes years to learn some of life's lessons. It takes years to gain experience and to achieve most things of lasting importance. And of course many people have done their best work long after middle age has passed. Alfred Tennyson as an old man, looking over at the Isle of Wight from Southampton Bay when a very heavy storm was raging at sea, found inspiration to write "Sunset and Evening Star." Tennyson was then 83 years of age. The same was true of John Wesley. He lived to near 90 and right up to the last was writing and travelling on horseback throughout England preaching twice every day. And Winston Churchill was 65 when appointed Prime Minister and after then led our country through the darkest days of all our history, making his great speeches and travelling the world to direct the war in those dangerous days. And Albert Schweitzer continued his medical missionary work in Equatorial Africa right up to his 90s. A few years previous to his death he received the Nobel Prize and was asked at the time by a journalist what prize he would have preferred to receive and replied: "A beautiful vase filled with time."

On the other hand it is a fact that many have achieved tremendous things who died early in life. John Keats gave the world imperishable poetry though he died at 26. Michael Bruce, the Loch Leven poet, who gave us the bulk of our Scottish Paraphrases, died while still a student at 22. And many other great literary figures lived short lives. Byron died at 36, Robert Burns at 37, Shelley at 30. And of course our Lord Jesus died on the Cross at 33 after putting all eternity into three brief years.

So you see it is not a matter of how long we live but how we live. It is not necessary to live a long life to live a life full of value, a life that matters. The Bible tells us that Methuselah lived 969 years, but that is all the Bible has to say about him. Evidently it was all there was to say about him, that he lived a certain number of years but nothing could be said about anything he did or suffered or hoped or planned. So let us get this point clear - that years are not life, they are but the shells of life, and in many cases they are empty shells, they hold only days and days and days, but nothing accomplished for God and humanity. Real life is not years as Philip James Bailey says in his poem Festus:

"We live in deeds not years; in thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He lives most Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best."

Think of Methuselah living 969 years, and yet no one knows anything about what he did in any one of those years. On the other hand Jesus lived only 33 years and 30 of them in the obscurity of the Carpenter's Shop in Nazareth, and yet he put into those three brief years of his public ministry so much teaching and healing and blessing, so much loving and serving, that those three years are having a permanent influence over all mankind for all ages.

My second point is that it is not length but breadth of life that matters.

Some people live very narrow lives and their days are filled with petty worries about things that really don't matter to the life of the world. And this applies not only to people living in obscure places but to many in prominent places in life.

Think of the breadth of the life of Jesus, how he understood all sorts of people, how he could sit down to supper with a publican like Zachaeus, a man with a bad reputation. On another day he could be seen talking with real understanding with a woman like Mary Magdalene whose life was under a cloud. On another day he is seen playing with little children, talking about the things they understood and charming them with his lovely stories. On another day he is perfectly at home and talking with a Master in Israel, Nicodemus. And on another day he is mingling with fishermen, and talking with them about their craft as well as about religion.

Real life includes breadth, and I am not thinking simply about breadth of knowledge, but of understanding of people's feelings and of loving sympathy. Think of Abraham Lincoln as an example of breadth of outlook. Born in a Log Cabin, growing up in a very humble and narrow out of the way kind of place. But the time came when he reached the President's chair with an outlook upon people of all classes that was broad and generous, even in regard to his bitterest opponents. On taking his place as President he declared he would serve without malice to any, and with charity to all. Have our lives breadth of understanding of people, particularly of people we find it difficult to like, people whose outlook we cannot share, for that is real life?

Yes and it is not length of life that matters but breadth, and also depth.

A life that is going to matter must have depth, depth like a tree - finding the storms making the roots going deeper. Nothing is so pathetic as a shallow life, that kind of life that needs to be entertained all the time, that has no resources within itself to draw upon. It is said of Oliver Cromwell, that hope shone in him like a pillar of fire when it had gone out of all others. And this was because he was drawing upon hidden resources because his life had depth.

Jesus often spoke about the need of depth. In the Parable of the Sower, the seed falls here and there where there was no depth of soil, and springs up but when the sun shines upon it it withers away. Other seed falls on good soil and grows to bring forth an abundant harvest.

Our religious life needs depth if it is going to stand us in good stead in a day of storm or testing. And depth comes from knowing our Bibles, and through an ordered prayer life, and through habits of regular worship. There is a charming story told about the famous American Evangelist, D. L. Moody, two centuries ago he was visiting the city of Edinburgh. On a Sunday morning he was addressing an audience of children in one of Edinburgh's largest halls of that day. The hall was packed with girls and boys, and the subject of Moody's address was prayer. He began by asking the question What is Prayer? Never expecting to get an answer. But at once a hundred hands went up all over the hall to his great astonishment. He picked upon one little fellow in a front seat and asked for the answer. Without a moment's hesitation the lad stood up and gave the answer - "Prayer is an offering of our desires to God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and with due acknowledgement of his mercies". Of course the lad was just reciting what every child in Scotland was taught in those days, from the Shorter Catechism, and I expect that every child in that vast gathering could have given the same answer. At any rate Moody made this reply, "Thank God my boy that you were born in Scotland". It is to many of us a saddening thought that our children are no longer being taught to repeat the Shorter Catechism from memory, and are therefore being deprived of deep foundations for their religious life.

Our faith needs to be built upon deep hidden foundations if it is going to withstand the knocks and misfortunes, the sneers and scoffing of the shallow, if it is going to keep us strong and true and inspire joyous living and happy days. I read sometime ago about icebergs, that when they leave the polar regions, many of them towering three or four hundred feet in the air, sail south on a straight course, as steady as mountains, without tackling or ballast, for their substance is seven-eighths under water, and it is this that gives them steadiness. And so it is with the lives of men and women, if their faith in God has depth like the great icebergs, they will sail a straight course through troubled waters, for their faith is rooted and grounded in something deeper than chance or fate, in something more enduring than the favours and promises of men.

How old art Thou? It really matters very little whether we are young or old in middle life. What does matter is that we are filling the passing days with useful work and acts of loving service to God and man - it matters that our lives should have breadth, breadth of understanding and feeling for people around us - whether we like them or not. And it matters that our lives should have depth, that we should have hidden resources to draw upon when the things of this life fail us or cease to have meaning for us. Jacob was an old man where these words of our text were asked of him, 130 years old. But his life had been filled with years of splendid service, it had by his experience of sorrow and trial become filled with breadth and depth, and as he stood before Pharaoh he was not feeling old, "winter was upon his head but everlasting spring was in his heart". And so life can become for everyone of us, as we seek to serve and follow the Lord of all good life, whom Jacob never knew, but who was one day to be given to the world by Jacob's race.

How old art thou? Here is Robert Browning's answer - "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be. The last of life's for which the first was made. Our time is in His hand who saith a whole I planned. Youth shows but half; Trust God, See all. Nor be afraid".


Dear Fellow-Member,

I extend to all our people the wish of a Happy New Year, a year of health and good success.

Comment on Special Services and Parties in December

We have done well in the Old Parish Church in special Christmas Services this year. On Sunday, 17th we were favoured by having the Langholm Town Band leading the Evening Service in Carols and Christmas music. Our thanks to Bandmaster Chapman, and to Mr. Richard Hill, the Band Secretary, and the bandsmen and bandladies, for the work they put in to produce the best ever Service they have rendered in our church. Thanks to Richard Hill, jnr., and to Michael Cubbon for reading the lessons so distinctly. And thanks to the band quartette of Messrs Ian Rodger, Richard Hill, David Calvert and James Little for the delightful selections they rendered.

On Sunday, 24th we had three Christmas Services all well attended. The Morning Service led by the Sunday School, taking the form of a Nativity scene, was charming and most impressive. Our thanks to Mrs. Catherine Douglas, the teachers, and the parents, who all helped to produce the play and costume. Thanks to Gillian Rae, Shona Lockie and Colin Irving who read the lessons. The gifts brought by the children were taken that some day to Dr. Barnardo's Home at Hawick, by Mr. Denis Male, and I have a letter of warm thanks from the Superintendent.

The 6 p.m. Evening Service was led by members of the various Youth Organisations, the Boys Brigade Company, and the Junior Brigade, the Girl Guides and the Brownies. The Junior Youth Club also took a part. The Service was well attended and very much appreciated, and I wish to thank all who took part.

The Christmas Eve Candlelight Service was as usual largely attended, and I wish to thank all who took part in reading Lessons, and preparing the church for candle light. This includes Billy Elliot and David Calvert, two of our elders who had to do the work after the evening Service. The offering for Shelter amounted to over£30.

I would like to take the opportunity here of thanking Buccleuch Estates for providing and delivering the Christmas trees for the church and the hall, and a supply of holly. To thank Mr. Murray for loaning boards for candle rests, and Mr. James Telford for transporting same.

Carol Singers

On Monday, 18th The Eskdale Young Farmers Club provided a carol choir and visited the Thomas Hope Hospital, Greenbank Home and St. Francis Home, and after singing carols presented a gift.

The Young Wives Fellowship provided a carol choir visiting Greenbank Home, St. Francis Home, and Thomas Hope Hospital on Friday, 22nd and their visits were much appreciated.

On Christmas Eve the Boys' Brigade made their annual visits to Thomas Hope Hospital, Meikleholm, Greenbank Home and St. Francis Home, and their visits and singing was a source of great pleasure to the older people visited.

Christmas Parties

The Guild Christmas Social on 12th December was a very happy evening and well attended. The Young Wives Christmas party was on Tuesday, 19th when members of the Annan Young Wives Group were guests, and when all enjoyed refreshments and games.

The Sunday School Christmas parties were on Saturday, 23rd, with the Primary in the afternoon, and the seniors in the evening. The work done by Mrs. Douglas and all the teachers made both parties a great success and source of happiness for the children.

The Boys' Brigade junior section enjoyed their Christmas party on Wednesday, 20th and the Company Christmas guest dance in the lesser Buccleuch Hall was a very happy evening.

My wife and I also attended a wonderful party organised by the Mentally Handicapped Children's Committee in the Buccleuch Hall on Wednesday, 27th when over 20 guests from Dumfries and Annan were given wonderful entertainment and refreshments.

The Over 60 Club 9th annual dinner was held in the Eskdale Hotel on 21st - when a grand dinner was provided and the guests entertained by Miss Jean Ferguson, Mrs. Jean Young and Mrs. Marion Pool, soloists, with Mrs. Barker accompanist. And by a visit from the Langholm Town Band leading the party in carol singing.

The Eskdale Old People's Welfare Committee held their annual Christmas Service and dinner in the Buccleuch Hall on 20th when a party of well over 200 were entertained to an excellent meal and programme of songs and carols.

The Langholm Academy Christmas Carol Service on the morning of Thursday, 21st, was a splendid production. The Academy Music Master, Mr. Douglas McBay, and Mrs. Carol Ferguson, worked very hard producing a Nativity Play, a Carol choir, and recorder group. Our organist Mr. Cecil Carmichael, assisted in leading the carol singing. There was a larger attendance of parents and of the public than for many years.

Parish Magazines and Life and Work

With the appointment of a new Editor to Life and Work, Mr. R. D. Kernohan, a distinguished journalist the official magazine of the Church of Scotland is greatly improved and I urge all our people to consider ordering a copy. And here I would like to express our best thanks to Mrs. Mina Carter, our Magazine distribution organiser, for her grand services every month in arranging the district distribution.


Congratulations to Mrs. Janet Hotson, 10 Eskdale Place, on attaining her 93rd birthday on 4th December The Over 60 Club found opportunity to present her with flowers on the following day at the weekly meeting in the church hall.

Sympathy with the Bereaved

On 16th Decernber, Mrs. Janie Johnstone, 37 Townfoot, formerly 10 Buccleuch Terrace, passed away at the age of 70. She was a most regular and devoted worshipper in the Old Parish Church, and Guild member. We will all greatly miss her genial presence at the Church and Guild. Our sincere sympathy with all relatives.

On 19th December, William Vevers, 65 Townfoot, passed away very suddenly at the age of 62. We express our deepest sympathy with his widow Mrs. Mary Johnstone Vevers, and with the family of Billy, Jessie, Robert, Betty, George and Shiela.

On 20th December Miss Jessie Reid, West View, passed away very suddenly at the age of 73. She was a devoted member of our Church and regular in attendance, and generous in supporting her Church and any good cause. Our sincere sympathy with relatives.

On 25th December, Mrs. Jane Pool, 28 High Street, passed away at the age of 69. She will long be remembered by the people of Langholm for her fine cultural interests and the part she played in the social and cultural life of our community. Our sincere sympathy with her family, Alec, David and William.

On 27th December, Miss Mina Irving, 56 Henry Street, passed away after a long illness at the age of 59. Mina was a most popular person and greatly loved by all who knew her. Our deepest sympathy with her brother Archie and with relatives and friends.

With warm greetings to all our people.

Yours sincerely,

TOM CALVERT, Minister.

At Close of Financial Year

1972 £1168
1971 £1082
1972 £ 578
1971 £ 565
1972 £ 194
1971 £ 209
Ordinary Donations
1972 £ 413
1971 £ 431
1972 £2383
1971 £2304
1972 £ 480
1971 £ 503
1972 £2863
1971 £2807


The next meeting of the Guild is on 9th January when the speaker will be Mr. John Elliot. On 23rd January the Guild will hold a Scottish Night. 13th February, Mr. Roger Blamire, Rector of the Academy will give a talk illustrated by slides.


The next meeting of the Young Wives Fellowship is a Burns Supper on 16th January.


January 14 - 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Rev. Tom Calvert. Flowers, Mrs. C. Glendinning, 70 High Street.
January 21 - 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Rev. Tom Calvert. Flowers, Miss Mary Hounam, 54 Caroline Street.
January 28 - 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Rev. Tom Calvert. Flowers, Mrs. Helen Tyman, Barbank, Drove Road
February 4 - 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Rev. Tom Calvert. Flowers, Mrs. W. Hosie, 60 Holmwood Drive.


December 24 - Robert Martin, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Johnson, 38 Southside Flats, Imphal Barracks, Fulford Road, York.
December 24 - Stephen Keen, son of Mr. and Mrs. Neil Boyd, c/o Mrs. Beattie, 109 Townfoot.


December 16 - Mrs. Janie Johnstone, 37 Townfooty formerly of 10 Buccleuch Terrace. Age 70.
December 19 - Mr. William Vevers, 65 Townfoot, Age 62.
December 20 - Miss Jessie Reid, West View, Langholm, Age 73.
December 25 - Mrs. Jane Pool, 28 High Street. Age 69.
December 27 - Miss Wilhelmina Irving, 56 Henry St. Age 59.

"Jesus said, I am the resurrection and I am life. If a man has faith in Me, even though he die, he shall come to life; and no one who is alive and has faith shall ever die". St. John 11. 25. NEB.


Short-stay-home for Mentally Handicapped Children, Keith Lodge, Stonehaven. Well equipped for all kinds of mentally handicapped children, and caters also for physically handicapped. Children's needs catered for by an experienced, capable staff whose aim is to make the children comfortable and happy. Night nurses are employed to give around-the-clock attention. Frequent outings in home's minibus. Boys accepted from infancy to 12 years, and girls from infancy to 16 years of age. Children may spend up to 8 weeks at any one time at Keith Lodge, and return as often as the parents wish in any one year. Details from the Matron, Keith Lodge, Cameron Street, Stonehaven, Tel.: Stonehaven 2213.


Miss Jean B. Montgomerie, aged 26 has been called to Kelman Memorial Church, Peterculter, Aberdeenshire. Miss Montgomerie will be the third woman minister to hold a charge of her own in the Church of Scotland.