Rowland Rank 1885-1939

Order of Service for Funeral of Rowland Rank 13th July 1939
Wesley’s Chapel, City Road EC1Y 1AU

The Service opened with “I am the Resurrection and the Life…”
Hymn:- All things bright and beautiful…
Psalm 23.
Reading from Holy Scriptures:- Revelation 21 v1-7

Address given by The Rev. Bartlett Lang.

For more than 12 months we have been passing through crisis after crisis. The shadow of another gigantic war has been over Europe. There have been feverish preparations for rearmament – the tragedy is that the toll of the Great War has not yet been fully paid and Rowland Rank’s untimely death at the early age of 53 is a result of the War. He served from 1914 to 1918 in the Trench Mortar Brigade and at the close was badly gassed with mustard gas. He has been fighting the consequence of it ever since. Shortly afterwards he passed through a critical operation to his throat, when by a perfect miracle of surgery an alien and terrible growth in his throat was successfully removed, but he has never been the same man since. Ill health has dogged him from that day to this. Had it not been for his wonderful constitution and for his cheery temperament he would have gone under long ago. Surely we can say that Rowland Rank has died for his King and his Country and we are here to honour his memory today.

Rowland Rank was born into a Methodist home in the City of Hull in the year 1885. He has never ceased to be grateful for those influences which surrounded his early life and for the training he had and for those vital principles of godliness, integrity and benevolence in which he was trained. His earliest memories are of Sunday evenings when his dear mother gathered her own family around her and read to them stories from the Bible. Such a heritage is more priceless than anything the world can offer. Were to God there were many more such home in England today, for the open Bible and the worship in the home which surrounded it have been the secret of England’s greatness. You and I are the men and women we are today largely because of Christian homes and godly parentage from which we have come. However much we may seem to be indifferent at times to the claims of the Christian Church, that integrity, that sense of honour, that sense of fair play, that rule our life, are directly due to those wonderful influences of Christian home life for generations and generations before us. God grant that you and I may have the faith to pass on to our children something of those mighty traditions which we have inherited.

Rowland Rank [right] 1921 at Binderton House with his father Joseph Rank [second from left] and his son Joseph Rank [foreground]

Now Rowland was a great home lover, he was deeply attached to his charming wife and to his children; they were equally attached to him. His wife’s devotion to him for the last six months is too beautiful for description. She has never left his side. She has watched over him as only a loving wife can watch over a sick husband. Our hearts go out to her and to the children today in this hour of their desolation. We think of the elder son called to shoulder such terrific responsibility at such an early age – bearing the honoured name of Joseph Rank – who himself was bereaved of his own father at a like early age.

Rowland in 1925 with Joseph, Peggy and Patricia

Rowland preferred country life to all the attractions of the City, he loved animals, cattle, horses, dogs and farm life, but supremely cared about little children and one of the most gracious things he ever did was after he had built his own house at Bognor – was to build – to create – a lovely home [Margaret House] for unprivileged children where they can come down for holidays to share in the benefits and joys of that wonderful seaside resort.

Rowland and Margaret Rank 1925

He honoured me with his confidence in the inception of that beautiful work, and I know that he took keen interest in the founding of a centre of Christian benevolence. He was a deep thinker with pronounced views but he was quiet, retiring and shy by nature – he was not a man who wore his heart on his sleeve – he was none the less one of the most winning personalities, he had a very placid temperament. He was never in a hurry at any time – he would be exasperatingly slow – he took time to make decisions and to form judgements, but those decisions once made and those judgements once arrived at were extraordinarily accurate and far seeing and were justified by results.

It is not for me to speak of is business life, for most of you know him better than ever I did. He ingherited many of the gifts of his brilliant father – one of the most wonderful merchant princes and philanthropists of our day and I am sure that all our hearts go out to that aged father in the shock of this bereavement. There have been tributes in the press to the acumen and success of Rowland Rank in building up a successful business and I am sure that his relations with his staff and with his employees have always been of the best – he has always been approachable and ready to listen to any difficulty or trouble and to act justly and fairly. The presence of so many here this afternoon who have helped to make his business such a success is a tribute of regard and esteem of which you have of him.

Rowland Rank playing golf at Goodwood Downs Course 1921

My friend Rowland Rank is the last one who would want flattery today or to be held up as a plastic saint – he had his faults as we all have, but my friends when we come ourselves to the valley of the shadow of death, what will be our countenance – what will be our assurance – will it be the good works that we have practiced – will it be our own character – will it be our own self-righteousness. I suggest that we shall find no comfort and no confidence there.

Quotation – “Not the labours of my hands can fulfil thy laws demands … Rock of ages cleft for me let me hide myself in thee.”

Special Prayer

Almighty God Our Father, we ask Thy blessing upon us as we bow in this solemn hour. We come to thank Thee for all that our friend has meant to us – for all that his kindly and genial personality has done for us. We thank Thee for all those qualities of which we have been thinking and for all that makes us mourn his loss today, but we especially commend to Thee those who most intimately mourn his loss – who are passing through such a trying experience at this very hour. We pray O Lord that comfort and consolation may be given to his dear wife in the hour of her loneliness in the mystery of her bereavement. We pray that Thou who canst be the husband of the widow will be very gracious unto her in the coming days of loneliness – may she find that she is not alone because the Father is with her.

Bless the elder son called to such responsibility so early. We pray that he may tread in the footsteps of those who have gone before and make you his Lord for ever and ever. Give unto him we pray Thee strength and courage, give unto him a sense of stewardship – give unto him a wonderful hold upon himself. Bless the dear daughters – comfort them as Thou only cant comfort them. May they feel that this is amongst the things that work together for good.

Rowland with his eldest son Joseph Rank 1919

Bless the dear little boy who scarcely realises his loss, who does not really know what has happened. Be a Father to the fatherless, guide their steps into lives of duty, into lives of Christian service and Christian witness, into lives in which there shall be no regrets.

Hear us for the aged father – help and keep him at this hour and comfort him as Thou only can comfort.

Bless the brothers and sisters standing now at the side of their dead brother – give unto them a sense of peace and consolation – guide them and keep them true to the very best that has gone before. May they dedicate themselves as they have never yet done in the service of Jesus Christ.

Bless all of us in whatever capacity we mourn our friend, help us to realise how solemn are the things of life – help us to realise how uncertain is our hold upon this present life – show us that we are making for the highest and best. O God come in and take control of every one of us – may we always be abounding in the work of the Lord, and may we present ourselves a living sacrifice, truly and acceptable unto Thee, which is our real service and this we ask in the name which is above every other name, the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

The two hymns we have had were Rowland Rank’s favourite hymns – for he had the heart of a child – as it were a child’s faith. These were the hymns he sang to his children, to his little boy – I think they express something of him.

Hymn: There is a green hill far away

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