Homily for Jane Gale’s Funeral Service

Windowselection+034_editedI cannot imagine Jane Gale without this building. The Gales’, Thompsons’, and Warrens’ were connected by marriage and family. And these families were all connected in the founding and support of this church. Eliakim and Phebe Warren and their children came to Troy first. Later the Gales’ were joined to the Thompson family. And then the Gale-Thompson family became connected to the Warren family.

Eliakim and Phebe Warren were the ones who got the church going. They held services from the Book of Common Prayer in their home in the 1790s. The church was incorporated in 1804, and the first St. Paul’s Church on Congress St. was built soon after.

The congregation grew and this church was built starting in 1826. After Eliakim Warren died his widow Phebe held a sewing school for poor children on Saturdays. She did this for twenty years. Phebe’s daughter-in-law, Mary Warren, transformed the sewing school into the Mary Warren School and Holy Cross Church.

The interior of this church was completely changed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the 1890s into the unified design we have today. In the early part of the 20th century the Gale-Thompson-Warren clan commissioned the magnificent East Window: The Vision of St. Paul.

Jane came to our house many times for Thanksgiving Dinner. And we went to the Clark Museum in Williamstown often. As I got to know her I found that she was a loyal and constant friend. She had a good sense of humor. It didn’t seem to fit her personality, but she loved acting in comedic roles in the church Playreaders’ group. She actually was a bit of a ham. She was musical, and liked playing the harmonica. She liked the harmonica again because you wouldn’t think Jane would play the harmonica.

Throughout her entire life Jane came into this church week by week. She was formed and sustained by this church. She was supported by her connection to her ties to the Troy families. She enjoyed the plaques on the wall. Jane loved the familiar hymns. She was glad to see her friends in church.

At one point in her life Jane could still play the piano, but was unable to travel. She would get on the phone with Lillian Rosenfield and they would play and sing together over the phone.

There is a quotation from Tennyson’s poem, The Passing of Arthur, that she loved. I’m going to read it at the end of the service. “The old order changeth, yielding place to new.” In these words Jane reminds us that the past is what has helped shape us into the people we are now. Still, we live in the present and we should do what we can to help make things better now. And we should help nurture and sustain the people coming after us.

Jane was supported and sustained by this church throughout her life. The Sunday service, and the coffee-hour afterward, were absolutely essential to her.

Sunday after Sunday she made her way up the center aisle. Each time entering from the dark West door traveling to the light in the East.

Today she makes her last journey up the aisle of this church. In reality she has been preparing all these years for her final journey. Jane will be with God, her family and friends, and be at peace. Amen.

from The Passing of Arthur by Alfred Lord Tennyson

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within Himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams”

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