Today we laid Canon Organist Emeritus John McCreary to rest. The other day when I brought dinner to Betsy, his widow, she invited our houseguest, John Graham, and Carl and myself to the viewing and burial. (John was buried with a martini glass and an organ pipe!)
John Graham, who is here to attend McCreary’s funeral, was very active in the choral music scene during the sixteen years he lived in Hawaii from 1966 to 1982, where he was the choral director of the Hawaii School for Girls and sang in St. Andrew’s Cathedral Choir.
John has an LCH connection, too — he was a charter member of the LCH Compline Choir which was founded in 1976 by Carl Crosier and sang for our wedding in 1977. He also was a charter member of the Honolulu Ensemble Singers, a madrigal group directed by former LCH music director, Joseph Hansen. If ever you take a look at the LCH choral library you’ll see nearly the complete choral works by Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) and William Billings (1746-1800). That is because the Honolulu Ensemble Singers did a whole year of concerts by each of these composers and when that group disbanded, their sheet music was “inherited” by the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.
John now lives in the Twin Cities area with his wife, organist Sharon Kleckner.
Back to today’s events. At the mortuary, a small group of family and close friends gathered to bid “aloha” to “Uncle Jawn,” and we heard many humorous stories about John and funny incidents which happened in his choirs. We then moved to Diamond Head Memorial Park, where it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day, with blue skies and cool tradewinds. Daughter Susie McCreary Duprey had brought her iPod to play some of John’s favorite music. As the casket was lowered into the ground, we heard Susie herself singing Pie Jesu from Fauré’s Requiem and John accompanying on the organ. Susie claimed she had the iPod on “shuffle” and it just was coincidence that it landed on that piece, which is a family favorite. At the moment, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
I embedded a video of a Winchester Cathedral performance below: