Robert Pethard was a faithful member of St James’ Choir for 66 years, and often sang also in the choir of St Peter’s, Bengeworth. He was much loved in both places, and in Wickhamford, which had been his home with Mrs Pethard for the last part of his life. Because of a weak heart, he had not been expected to live as long as he did, but how thankful are all of us who knew him that God spared him to us! He was a friendly man, genuine and sincere in his Christian belief and practice. Such a life as his is a splendid example of faithful Christian discipleship. He was quite incapable of hypocrisy. A letter which he wrote to the Vicar and Mrs Braby two years ago reveals the springs of his character and the warmth of his love for God. The occasion was a choir outing at which the Vicar had read out from a parish magazine of 1904 the report of the outing that year, written by Bob himself. It was a surprise that Bob was not expecting, and this is what he wrote in his letter:
Many thanks to both of you for the kind words you said on Saturday at tea-time at Weston-super-mare. I can assure you both I was a very proud and happy man to have tried and done something for my dear Master. I was 15 years of age then and had been singing treble in Badsey Choir for about 8 years. I started in the Choir at six and a half. I had to sing a hymn by myself to get in and it was “Through all the changing scenes of life”. Anyway, I believe everything I sing. I believe God is my Maker, Redeemer and Sanctifier, and He has also been my very best Friend on this earth. I am never happier than when I am singing to my Maker and always try to give 100% or my very best. I have done about 64 years singing now, and I hope to carry on as long as God wishes me to.
Needless to say, we sang, “Through all the changing scenes of life” at Bob’s funeral, at which our choirmen were reinforced by a number from Bengeworth. We shall miss him greatly. But we do not doubt that this good and faithful servant has entered into the joy of his Lord, and that the praises of his God still employ his heart.
Published in the July 1961 Parish Magazine.