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Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn – An Enduring Christian Classic

Archbishop Vincent Nichols had the inspiration to encourage Andrew Robinson, a seminarian at St Mary’s Oscott, Birmingham to write a journal as he battled with  cancer and faced death with remarkable courage, faith and hope. The journal became Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn: Journal of a Dying Seminarian. We are delighted to publish the second edition of what has become, in many ways a Christian classic.

The second edition has the added features of a CD on which Archbishop Vincent explains what moved him to encourage Andrew to write his diary. In addition, and remarkably Andrew gives a talk in which he gives thanks to God and all those who are supporting him and praying for him. On the CD we are delighted to present the St Thomas More, Coventry, 9am Parish Choir sing Psalm 29 led by Monsignor Mark Crisp, Rector of Oscott college.

Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn is a never-ending story of joy, hope and confidence in the face of life’s greatest challenge – facing death. Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Clive and Stella, Andrew’s parents look back on Andrew’s life and the impact Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn has had on them.

Andrew’s mum and dad, Clive and Stella, reflect on the impact the death of their beloved son has had on their lives:

‘It is nine years now since Andrew died. There isn’t a day that passes without us wishing he was with us. We can still feel his joy and enthusiasm in reaching out to others. He had so much energy, enthusiasm and zest for life. He loved serving others, especially those in need of a helping hand or needing to be reassured that God was with them. The sick, the lonely, the elderly and those in need always remember him. Andrew always had time for people.
We still miss him so much and the pain of his absence has not gone away. We have to remind each other that he has gone back to the Lord and, through his journal and now this second edition, is still able to encourage and support others in living their faith. The Lord gave him to us, he was a gift, and we were so blessed to have thirty-two very happy years with him.

‘As you get closer and closer to the finish line you feel the exhilaration, you begin to smile and shed a tear of joy, one final push and you cross the line. You enter that light in all its glory. Death is that moment of transition when, please God, I will be fully reunited to the Father.’‘None of us expect to bury our children and losing Andrew was the hardest thing we have faced as a family. However, through the gift of faith, the support of our family, our many dear friends and the parish of St Thomas More, Coventry, we have somehow found the strength and the grace to endure a grief which, in truth, cannot be spoken.

‘We have always found great comfort and consolation from the following words of St Thomas More, in a letter he wrote to his daughter Margaret on 5 July 1535, the day before his execution: ‘Farewell, my dear child, and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends, that we may merrily meet in heaven.’ This is our prayer too, that one day we will be united with our dear son whom we love so much and miss so dearly.’

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, reflects on his own involvement in encouraging Andrew to write the journal in the first instance:

‘In late December 2000 I went to visit Andrew Robinson at his home in Coventry. This was my first opportunity to meet and talk with him since the diagnosis of cancer. I had heard a great deal about his courage and cheerfulness in the face of his life-threatening illness, and about the remarkable way in which he spoke publicly about the experience of sickness and pain which he was sharing with so many other people.

‘It was during that evening that I asked Andrew if he would keep a journal of the days ahead and of his journey of faith. I said I was sure that both he, and others, would draw strength from it.

‘Little did I know how rich a gift he would leave us. Now, of course, I am very grateful to Andrew for writing this journal. I am grateful to his family and friends for agreeing to its publication. I am especially grateful to Mike and Sue Conway of Alive Publishing for having the vision and drive to ensure that Andrew’s journal was first published and then widely distributed.  

We have to remind each other that he has gone back to the Lord and, through his journal and now this second edition, is still able to encourage and support others in living their faith. ‘Reading this journal opens for us a remarkable account of joyful faith in the heart and actions of a young man. Here is a moving testimony of the life-giving grace of God at work in our midst. Andrew has written in a candid and humorous manner, which makes his faith and joy accessible to us all.

‘Since the launch of Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn in March 2003 I have received hundreds upon hundreds of letters from people all around the world who wrote to me to tell me how reading Andrew’s journal struck a deep chord in so many ways. Some were struggling with cancer themselves, others were considering a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life, and many simply found Andrew’s humble and courageous witness a wonderful encouragement in living out their faith in the world today.

‘Finally, I would like to extend an invitation again to those who on reading this second edition or on listening to the CD are moved, touched or encouraged in some way to write to me at Archbishop’s House, Ambrosden Avenue, London, SW1. I will be glad to hear from you.’

During his life Andrew gave encouragement to many. In his last months, his prayerfulness, his cheerfulness and the way in which he spoke about sharing in the cross of Christ inspired and moved many more.

Archbishop Vincent invited people to write to him if they had a treasured memory of Andrew or if on reading his journal something they had read had struck a chord, moved or encouraged them in some way.  Archbishop Vincent’s postbag increased significantly over the years as many people around the world responded to his request. Here is a selection of these letters which share so eloquently and beautifully the impact that reading Andrew’s journal had on them.

I have recently finished reading Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn and it was fantastic. I think it is the best book I have ever read, and I have read lots of books.
Pamela Santangeli, Glasgow


I have just finished reading Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn by Andrew Robinson. I bought the book in Lewisham, South London only yesterday.

Now I am sitting on a coach on my journey home to Belfast and for most of the journey I have been re-reading Andrew’s book. I cannot remember a time when I have cried or rather had tears flowing from my eyes in such abundance.
Michael Campbell, Belfast


I hope you don’t mind me writing to you, but I feel I must. After reading Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn (twice in one week!) I just wanted to say an enormous thankyou!! I have been deeply moved and touched by such a truly wonderful man as Andrew.
Maria Tuff, Luton


Encouraged by Your Grace’s suggestion given in the Preface to Andrew Robinson’s journal, I would like to express my appreciation for letting me know about the marvellous example of this heroic young man.
Fr George Tutto, London


I have read the book during the last two days. It has moved me to tears and often to laughter. I have another interest in Andrew’s courage and his journey in faith. We too lost our eldest son with cancer some years ago and, although it was a time of deep pain, it was also a time when we received the most enormous love and support and for myself it became a time of a great deepening of my faith. As I too am now involved in a course of chemotherapy for bowel cancer, I have found this book an inspirational testimony to the grace and love of God.
Sheilagh Preston, Sheffield


I found Andrew’s book so uplifting and inspirational, and the depth of his faith unbelievable. I am sure that God’s plan for Andrew was what Andrew had wanted to do all along (but maybe not quite in the way Andrew had envisaged) – to tell people of God’s total, unconditional love for them – a love that even death cannot take away, as he showed in his unshakeable belief in the resurrection.
Sheila McAleese, Coventry


I bought and read today the journal of Andrew Robinson titled Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn. I feel I must accept your invitation to write in response to Andrew’s journal. I will be purchasing more copies of Andrew’s journal as gifts for friends. His life is like a homily and it should be preached.
Rev. Dr Tony Strike, Fareham


I have been profoundly moved and challenged by this book, and I thank you most sincerely for promoting its publication.

I don’t think I have ever read a book from cover to cover in one go. But I simply could not put it down. I would recommend Andrew’s journal to anyone, especially anyone thinking of priesthood.
Liam Connolly, Luton


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