Mysticism and the sense of the sacred

The nave of St. Mark’s Cathedral Seattle.

On the right, Michael Kleinschmidt, St. Mark’s present canon musician with Marc Aubertin.

When one steps inside St. Mark’s Cathedral Seattle and attends a worship service, one is immediately struck by the fact that … “this is a sacred and holy space; something mystical and magical happens here.” It is the huge space, the magnificent Flentrop Organ, it is the rolling acoustics that make music so extraordinary in this space.

Mel Butler, Peter Hallock’s immediate successor, and his wife, Mary.

But it is also the people of St. Mark’s that were so welcoming to me, and greeted me like a long-lost daughter come home. My late husband Carl and I came to St. Mark’s dozens and dozens of times and attended countless worship services. It was the tradition and the sense of mystery that he tried to recreate at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu during our long tenure there, and why we immediately began a relationship with canon musician Peter Hallock from the early 70s.

The Hallock Window

Scott Kovacs, president of the Compline Choir

Tonight was the night that the Hallock Window was dedicated to the glory of God and to the memory of Peter R. Hallock. The cost of the window was $150,000 and it was raised by more than 80 donors from as far away as Israel (and Hawaii!) There was a reception for the donors which took place in the nave prior to the Compline Service, plus a display of Peter Hallock’s actual vestments over the years. These garments will now be cared for by a local museum.

Carl used to describe Peter to my then-young son as “Peter in the Purple Dress”

Paige Smith and Naomi Kato, cellist and harpist, respectively

I was especially glad to meet Paige Smith and Naomi Kato, long-time members of the St. Mark’s Cathedral Choir. It was these two ladies who were such a deep influence on Peter Hallock’s music, because as you will understand, Paige is a cellist and Naomi is a harpist. So many of Peter’s works had the combination of these two instruments—and now you know why! They recounted the many times they had rehearsed one of Peter’s works on a Saturday, and then Sunday morning, were handed newly-revised sections to “tape in” to their scores! We all laughed about Peter constantly changing his mind and rewriting his works!

Some of Peter’s remains and memorabilia are embedded in the pillar.

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The Compline service followed at 9:30 pm, and I could remember all the chants and order of service like greeting an old friend. The service has been sung here since it was founded in 1956 by Peter Hallock—the Choir has really grown under Jason Anderson’s leadership, and now has 24 men. In the cavernous acoustics of the Cathedral, you are really transported to another time and place, an ancient and medieval time. As usual, the Cathedral was absolutely full, many of them young people. I do believe this is the best attended service of St. Mark’s Cathedral.

I was happy to renew my acquaintances with Vernon Nicodemus, Richard Greene, Ken Peterson and Joel Matter, all long-time Seattle Compline Choir members, some of whom have been in the choir more than 50 years!  Many of these guys had come to Hawaii in 1979 as part of the Compline Choir’s appearance at the AGO convention, and Vernon has come multiple times to sing with the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir. Unfortunately I didn’t take their pictures.

Wyatt Smith

I stayed for the post-Compline organ recital because it was played by Wyatt Smith, whom has followed my blog from the beginning, and visited us in Hawaii in 2013. Check out my post, “A visitor from the Internet.” Since then I have seen Wyatt at Association of Lutheran Church Musicians conferences—he was also named one of the Diapason magazine’s “20 under 30.” He also is a friend of my former student Joey Fala, to whom he passed on the building keys and scheduling responsibility at Yale University!

Wyatt’s excellent performance of Mendelssohn’s “Sonata No. 4 in B-flat” and especially Bach’s “O Lamm Gottes unschuldig” from the Great Eighteen Chorales reminded me that I used to play this piece every single Maundy Thursday… the memory of it is bittersweet … I can’t believe that it has been five years since I’ve retired from church music!


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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