This afternoon, I will be playing for the St. Andrew’s Priory Class of 2017 Commencement ceremony at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. I remember that it was always one of Carl Crosier’s favorite events of the year—he says it always filled him with such pride and joy. Even though he did not ever actually have a daughter in the school, as a member of the administration, he told me he felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment, educating these young women in the tradition of Queen Emma, who founded the school in 1867, now one hundred fifty years ago.
One of the features that sets the Priory ceremony apart from the typical high school graduation is the amount of music, and not just from me as the organist. Today I will start the program by playing Gordon Jacob’s Festal flourish as the prelude, and then the girls will sing an oli, a Hawaiian chant. Then I will launch into a grand processional, David Johnson’s Trumpet Tune in C while the administration, faculty and graduates slowly enter the nave.
Next will be the opening hymn, Hawai’i Pono’i, the invocation, then The Queen’s Prayer, Queen Liliu‘okalani’s beloved hymn written during her exile at Iolani Palace. After addresses by the senior class president and outstanding student scholar, the girls will sing their class hymn, Seek ye first the kingdom of God. The graduates from the classes of 1947, 1957, and 1967 will be recognized, then the class’s Hawaiian song will be sung and danced to hula.
Dr. Ruth Fletcher, head of school, will give an address, followed by the distribution of diplomas during which time I will quietly play Edward Elgar’s famous Pomp and circumstance. I will next play the Priory Alma Mater, which I think I can still play from memory even though it has been 40 years since I was the official Priory organist at graduation in 1977! My postlude will be Komm heiliger Geist from Bach’s Great Eighteen Chorales. Hey, it’s also Pentecost!
What I remember from Priory graduations in the past was the fact that the girls always cried! —something you don’t normally see at a high school graduation. Perhaps it is because the classes are small (this year’s graduating class only has 20 students), the girls become very close, and then there is all that music to start the tear ducts flowing.
Here is a video I found from 2014 with the Priory graduation highlights. You can clearly watch Carl directing traffic during the procession! (John Renke is the organist).
I can imagine Carl weeping tears of joy, not only at graduation, but also yesterday at the birth of our first grandchild, son of Stephen and Jessica Crosier, who was born yesterday! When we FaceTimed with Jessica during Carl’s home hospice, he cried tears of joy after hanging up.
Imagine how he would react to Andrés, born yesterday at a healthy 7 lbs, 14 oz.
Soy abuela! (I am a grandmother.)