Please read this letter from Karl Bachman, dean of the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists:
Ordinarily the leaving of a church organist or the ending of a choir program in a congregation is a non-event for all except the members of that particular church, but we in Hawaii are now experiencing a change that is anything but ordinary. On Sunday, October 9th, at 5:30 Evensong will be sung for the last time at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral under the direction of Canon Musician John Renke. In addition the choir will be disbanded at the same time.
This will make a profound change in our lives far beyond the stained-glass windows of the cathedral, because this Evensong has been a source of musical enjoyment and spiritual refreshment for the people of Hawaii for decades and decades. Not only the members of the cathedral, but people from many other churches outside of the Episcopal tradition have attended this service on a regular basis. Many of these people come from churches with good music programs, but there is something unique in Hawaii about the room, the atmosphere, the professionalism of the choir, the beauty of the cathedral organ and the outstanding musicianship of Canon Renke that have made this service truly a service for the people of Hawaii.
Evensong is not the only service received as a gift to the greater community. The Blue Mass in Advent serves as special comfort for those who are separated from family and friends during the holiday season. The blessing of the city at the New Year’s Eve service brings a centuries old tradition of “cathedral as center of the community” to our state. In addition the cathedral has served as a performance venue for mid-week organ recitals, national and international choral ensembles, Symphony, Symphony Chorus, Chamber Music, and so many more.
But there is an even greater loss than all of this. Saint Andrew’s Cathedral was the special legacy of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV following their historic trip all the way to England where they experienced first hand the choral tradition and rich worship heritage of the Church of England. Upon their return to Hawaii they established the cathedral with its own bishop of Hawaii so that this tradition would always be a part of the spiritual life of Hawaii. That the current bishop announces the end of this tradition is the announcement of a rejection of their legacy to the people of Hawaii. Not to protest this action lends tacit support to the end of this royal legacy.
Karl D. Bachman, Dean
On behalf of the Executive Committee
Hawaii Chapter—American Guild of Organists
The letter was sent to a local television station, the local newspaper Honolulu Star Advertiser, the American Guild of Organists national headquarters, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, Episcopal Church USA, Archbishop Justin Welby, Church of England, Lambeth Palace, Canterbury, concert artists who have been our guests here in Hawaii and other family and friends with the following explanation: The attached document is to make you aware of an action that will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral on Sunday, October 9, 2016. This action will bring to an end the choral music program of the cathedral. The cathedral was founded by Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV of the Kingdom of Hawaii following their historic visit to England where they were received by Queen Victoria and were shown the musical excellence and spiritually enriching liturgy of the Church of England. Upon their return to the Kingdom of Hawaii they founded the cathedral and secured a bishop so that this rich musical and spiritual heritage would be available to their people. This Sunday marks the end of that royal legacy.
It was just three little words in the title of Pat Gee’s weekly religious column in today’s Star-Advertiser, that summed up what is happening here:
A new direction
(Click the picture to enlarge)
I hope now that Pat’s column will answer many questions which have arisen in the last week.
Thank you, Pat, for your courage in writing this article!