It’s been reported that Hughes Oliphant Old passed away today at the age of 83.
A personal friend of his, Travis Fentiman, reported on Facebook: “Dr. Hughes Oliphant Old, affectionately known as Scotti, one of the word’s leading historians of Christian, reformed worship, and a friend, went to be with our Savior at about 10:30 this morning.”
Another friend on Facebook said, “his wife, Mary, and his children, Hannah and Isaac, were with him at home when he peacefully passed into glory.”
UPDATE: Old’s funeral will be held on Tuesday, May 31, 11am at Providence Presbyterian Church (West Lebanon, NH), followed by interment at Christian Street Cemetery in Wilder, VT.
Old brought to life the history of Christian worship in a way few (if any) will ever match, notably through his magnum opus, a seven-volume series straightforwardly titled: The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church. It is a massive series he launched in 1998 and completed in 2010 at a length of 4,500 pages.
His life and work was a precious gift to the Church and will be for future generations. Old will surely be missed. Here’s a list of individual volumes in his masterful history of preaching and preachers:
- Volume 1: The Biblical Period (1998)
- Volume 2: The Patristic Age (1998)
- Volume 3: The Medieval Church (1999)
- Volume 4: The Age of the Reformation (2002)
- Volume 5: Moderatism, Pietism, and Awakening (2004)
- Volume 6: The Modern Age (2007)
- Volume 7: Our Own Time (2010)
3 thoughts on “Hughes Oliphant Old (1933–2016)”
Thank you for posting this, Tony. Scoti and I have been friends for over 30 years. I, along with many others, will miss him dearly. Tonight he worships in a way beyond anything he learned or taught us or experienced in this life. Remembering Mary and Isaac and Hannah tonight in prayer.
If it is of interest, here are some of my recent experiences with Dr. Old:
He attended an OPC church in New Hampshire that my family began attending last year. He was at public worship every week up until about a month ago. Just before that, a few months ago, he had the honor of baptizing his only grandchild (he is a retired pastor from the PCUSA and wanted ‘to go down with the ship’).
He loved children and took a special liking for my two little ones. He was especially fond of my little, 1.5 year old Matthew Henry, and told me affectionately of the story of how he first found out about Matthew Henry (of old). When visited him in his home about 3 weeks ago, the first thing he did was (as they came up to see him and hugged him) bless them. He said he wanted to because that is what Jesus did, taking little ones into his arms and blessing them.
Later, lil’ Matthew Henry was saying ‘truck’, ‘truck’ as he saw trucks go by on the street outside through the window (trucks are his favorite toy). Then he would say ‘bye-bye’ when they went by. Dr. Old (being mostly blind), said ‘bye-bye’, thinking that he was leaving. Annie, my bride, told him that he was just saying bye-bye to the trucks passing through the window. As Matthew Henry then said ‘bye-bye’, each time Dr. Old said ‘Bye-bye truck!’
He spent his last amount of time when he was able to work, editing up previously published books and articles of his, which Mary, his bride helped him greatly with, as Dr. Old has been mostly blind for the last few years. He said months ago that he was going to try and start writing another book, on Christ and the arts.
Life had become dreary and tiring for him in the end (with the infirmities of old age), and so we sought to cheer him up the best we could when we would see him. He always wanted to talk theology, and looked forward to it, though he was very friendly in conversation besides this. He had to go the hospital a few months back. The nurse said that he was very out of it (not coherent). While he was rather unaware of his surroundings (being mostly blind), I can testify that he was very with it, as he simply was talking about what was on his mind: historical theology (something nurses don’t always clue in on).
In the last year that I was graced to be with him, the thing that strikes me the most about him was his evident, sincere faith and love for God.
‘And all the days of Hughes Old were 30,358 days; and he died.’
‘So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.’