Celebration John McCreary

The flowers on the high altar were given by the members of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Guild of Organists in thanksgiving for the life of John McCreary.

The flowers on the high altar were given by the members of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Guild of Organists in thanksgiving for the life of John McCreary.

If a bomb had struck at St. Andrew’s Cathedral April 27th at 11:00 am, there would be no more church music in Honolulu! That is because every church musician in town was there to celebrate the life of Canon Organist Emeritus John McCreary.

People were already starting to gather when I arrived at St. Andrew’s Cathedral about 9:15 am. In spite of a prediction of muggy Kona weather, it turned out to be very pleasant with gentle tradewinds. As I was instructed, I began my organ pieces at 10:20 am (Reger, Benedictus and Bach, Vor deinem Thron). I was followed by Margaret Lloyd (Jongen, Prière) and Mark Wong (Bubeck, Meditation–a piece John McCreary shared with Mark, complete with his markings). Everyone got very quiet while John’s grandson, Jordan, played his own arrangement of “Be thou my vision” on the piano. I was surprised at how beautiful the piano sounded in the reverberant acoustics of St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

A painting by Leohone Magno of John McCreary was displayed in the front of the Cathedral.

A painting of John McCreary was displayed in the front of the Cathedral. Painting is by Leohone Magno, an organist. (Click to enlarge)

One of the most moving parts of the service came right at the beginning, when Susie McCreary Duprey conducted the entire assembly in her father’s arrangement of “Na ke akua.” The complete score was printed in the program, so the Cathedral became a giant choir! This was the same piece which was sung at John’s deathbed. You can go back to my previous post to read about the significance of this beautiful arrangement.

The heart of the service was the Requiem by Gabriel Fauré, accompanied on organ by John Renke, with the addition of harp (Connie Uejio) and violin (Ignace “Iggy” Jang). The Introit and Kyrie followed the blowing of the pū (Hawaiian conch shell). Pie Jesu was sung immediately by Emily Haswell following the eulogies by John Alexander, Susie McCreary Duprey and Betsy McCreary. (I don’t know how they all did it — they captured John’s impish humor as well as his kindness and generosity so eloquently — in a completely composed manner!) The offertory was O Domine Jesu, the Sanctus and Agnus came in their usual spots. Libera me was sung at the Communion and In paradisum was sung after the dismissal.

In addition to the Fauré, John McCreary’s own works were well represented by the opener, Na Ke Akua, as well as Psalm 84, and at the end, everyone sang his orison, O Lord, support us all the day long.

After the ethereal In paradisum, we all walked out in silence. The thought immediately came to me: John would have absolutely loved this!





About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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6 Responses to Celebration John McCreary

  1. Marita Nelson says:

    Thank you for writing this. It was such a moving service and to know that the entire music community was together was awesome. You’re right, John would have loved it.

  2. From Beebe Freitas:

    Thoughts from my seat in a pew on April 27th, 2013…
    The Service for John Swan McCreary was Superb. Elegant and exquisite in every detail. It was a step into the Royal Life of St. Andrewʻs: the McCreary Era. Real TIme stopped. Another Day, Another TIme, Another Age: Pageantry, Ceremony, Music, Setting, Bulletin, Organ Music, Jordanʻs Beautiful Piano Piece. the Choir, all of the Faure, Soloists, Congregational singing, MUSIC, Eulogies – each one so unique and so sharing of Johnʻs Life and Times…. and the Life and Times of each of you…..I donʻt have Kendallʻs or John Alexanderʻs e-mail addresses, please share…..You let us have a peek into your lives as you shared with each other and about each other and we realized we knew and loved you all SOOOO much……And we realized how much we adored all of what John was ….and how much we owe to him….and how much we will miss him……and how much he influenced each of us…..This was a Great Tribute to a Great Man and his Legacy.

    (Iʻm sorry if I have missed anyone. Unintentional, believe me.)

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  6. Anna Derby Blackwell says:

    From the widow of a former verger, a nod must go to Bryon Duprey, who escorted the speakers to and from the rostrums – including Betsy, his mother-in-law, with her bandaged hands. Bry was impeccable, reliable, caring, respectable – I was so proud of him! A watershed moment in the lives of all of us who sang with, played with, laughed with “Da Greatess”.

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