Yes, indeed, there was once a naked lady sitting in the bishop’s chair just before the Compline service at St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, and it was one of many anecdotes we heard last night at the celebration of 57 years of Compline.
The story is recounted in Ken Peterson’s new book, Prayer as night falls, recalling his experiences of singing with the choir for nearly fifty years.
An excerpt from the book:
It was 1969, a dark fall Sunday evening in Seattle. “The Compline Choir was rehearsing in the choir room, when Roxy Giddings, the wife of one of our members, suddenly opened the door and came into the room. She said simply, “There’s a naked woman sitting in the bishop’s throne. Can anyone help?”
Ralph Carskadden, an Episcopal priest who was singing with us at that time, answered Roxy’s plea for help. They approached the naked young woman, who was apparently high on some kind of drug. She had decided to remove her wet clothes and seek the comfort of the large, soft chair, which was hidden from view behind the altar. Ralph found a blanket, and they covered her with it and escorted her to a restroom, where Roxy’s helped her to get her clothes back on.
Ken Peterson said that he would have liked to include a CD with the book of some musical examples because after all, how can you appreciate or even understand the music of Compline without hearing it? But even better, he created a website with sound clips which you can hear by clicking here.
By the way, I would like to applaud Dr. Jason Anderson, the present Compline Choir director and Peter Hallock’s successor, for his fantastic organization of last night’s event, from the catered meal, to all the guest speakers, the video presentation and vision to provide for the future monetary support of Compline. Peter Hallock was indeed touched by the two prolonged standing ovations.
Know what I was really impressed with? The bamboo plates which we put into the compost pile after dinner!
On the tables were sheets of paper directing our table conversations to explain how Compline had affected our lives and to name our favorite Hallock anthems. We then shared these conversations with the larger group. However Jason only gave us 3-1/2 minutes to accomplish this task and people could have talked for hours!
Carl Crosier says that he first attended Compline in the mid 60s when there were only about 70-75 people in the congregation. But it made such an impression upon him that it led him to create a similar choir and music program at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu which lasted for 38 years.
Unfortunately we could not stay for the service as we had to take Peter back home. The Compline service repertoire last night was all-Hallock: Bring us, O Lord God, orison; The King of love my shepherd is, psalm harmonized by Hallock; Nunc dimittis (Marilyn setting by Hallock); To the supreme being, anthem with Mel Butler on the Flentrop organ and Dan Williams on oboe.