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.
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!