Murdo MacLeod was born in Stornoway in 1908. Tragically, his mother died shortly after he was born and he was thus to be nurtured in his early years in the home of a close relative in Breasclete. When his father remarried and set up home in Stornoway, Murdo came to live in the town and from his early youth he was found attending upon the worship of God in the church on Matheson Road. To that building he was much attached; it was within its walls that he was to hear the awakening voice of the Son of God and it was there as an office-bearer that he was to be a pillar over many years. He was a baker to trade and as those who shared that occupation with him would readily testify, it would be hard indeed for any master to find a more diligent servant and faithful employee.
Regrettably, there are available but scanty details of his spiritual experience in passing from death to life. We do know – having heard it from himself – that he was awakened to a sense of his lost and ruined state under a sermon preached by the Rev Malcolm Gillies on the words: “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan?” This awakening was accompanied with much, prolonged distress of soul, for it would appear that it was after being left to call “from the depths” for a considerable period of time that his soul was finally enlightened in that knowledge of Christ which meant for him everlasting life, as it does for all who have the eyes of their understanding enlightened. This occurred while he was still in his early twenties.
He was received as a member in full communion by the Stornoway Kirk Session in 1938. He was ordained as a deacon the following year, and in 1954 he was ordained as an elder. The duties of these offices he was to attend to in his own competent and conscientious manner. He was a man not given to change, desiring to hand down to those coming after him the doctrine and practice which he had himself received from those who had gone before him. Always impeccably dressed, his tall, erect figure was a familiar sight on Sabbaths as he walked from his home in Manor Park to attend, with unfailing regularity, the public worship of God in that building which was so dear to his heart.
Murdo, as we knew him, was largely a man of one book – the Bible. In his home, it was always by him, and that he had imbibed its teaching was abundantly evident from his conversation in private as well as from his spiritual exercises in public. Often, in the absence of the minister, he presided over public worship, in Gaelic particularly, taking over that duty from such men as Neil Nicolson who had gone before him and whose memories he so much cherished. He was, we believe, pre-eminently a man of prayer. For over 60 years Murdo kept himself unspotted from the world and was much respected as a man of God, not only in the Stornoway congregation but in the wider community. Over the last few weeks of his life he was lovingly and dutifully cared for by his son Iain and his wife and family at their home in Holm. It was there, on 24 January 2000, at the advanced age of 91 years, that he passed away to his everlasting rest.
“Mark thou the perfect, and behold
the man of uprightness;
Because that surely of this man
The latter end is peace.”
(Rev) John MacLeod