(Reprinted from the Victoria Hospice Society 1994/1995 Annual Report.)
One year, around Christmas, one of our patients was a young Middle Eastern man who had a brilliant career in the arts field. Now he was dying of AIDS, becoming blind and virtually paraplegic. He was depressed, and in his own words, said, “I’m becoming just an animal.”
That Christmas Eve, a group of carollers from a local church came to sing at the Hospice unit. Most of the patients still on the unit were too weak to go home. The carollers sang their repertoire in the hallway to an audience of half-closed doors, and they looked a little disappointed.
The last carol was “Away in a Manger”. Suddenly, a loud, clear voice piped up behind the group. Our young friend, who was not a Christian, was in his wheelchair singing his heart out, all three verses, ending with the last:
Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay,
Close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.