Remembering a Christmas Carol with Robertson McQuilkin

December 05, 2016

By Dr. Shirl Schiffman

CIU Professor of Ministry Studies

After the death of former CIU President Robertson McQuilkin on June 2, 2016, many of his friends and colleagues paid tribute. Among them was Professor Shirl Schiffman of the CIU Seminary & School of Ministry. Her memories of McQuilkin included the following:

One Christmas season after Mr. McQuilkin retired from CIU, I went with a church caroling group that showed up on his doorstep. He cordially invited us in to sing. I forget our earlier selections, but we eventually slid into a de rigueur finale of “Silent Night.” Who isn't moved by that carol? Mr. McQuilkin. Two words in, he said, "Oh, not that one. Why not sing something with good theology? Why not ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing?’  Now there's a carol with the gospel in it." We hurriedly found the page and sang Charles Wesley's powerful lyrics, ending with:


Hail! the heav'n born Prince of peace!

Hail! the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all he brings,

Risen with healing in his wings

Mild he lays his glory by,

Born that man no more may die:

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”


I’m OK with “Silent Night,” but I’ve never forgotten the lesson taught that night.

Before we left he opened a tin and offered us candy wrapped in shiny gold paper. Along with others, I unwrapped and popped one in my mouth. Ugh. “This is my favorite candy from Japan,” Mr. McQuilkin said. “It’s made out of seaweed.”