Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Peter Hallock

Word is spreading that composer and church musician Peter Hallock died on Sunday at the age of 89.  Hallock was for 40 years (1951-1991) the music director at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle.  One of his most lasting contributions to St. Mark's (and to the wider Episcopal church) was his development and promotion of the weekly service of Compline on Sunday nights, which he began in the 1950s and continued to direct until 2003.  During the second half of the twentieth century, when evening worship was disappearing in many places, St. Mark's Compline service grew and grew and continues today, inspiring many other churches to offer this kind of service.

Hallock's choral music and his psalm settings are widely sung in different denominations. If you have 30 minutes to spare, you can listen to the St. Mark's Compline service from January 12 of this year, which includes his setting of Psalm 89 and his anthem The Baptism of Jesus (1980), which I've chosen because my own choir sings this anthem every year at our Advent Lessons and Carols service.  The text is from a medieval carol, in both Latin and English.

Jesus autem hodie regressus est a Jordane. (But today Jesus emerges from the Jordan.) 
When Jesus Christ baptized was, the Holy Ghost descended with grace;
the Father’s voice was heard in the place:
Hic est filius meus, ipsum intende. (This is my Son, listen to him.) 
There were Three Persons and one Lord, the Son baptized with one accord,
the Father said this blessed word:
Hic est filius meus, ipsum intende. (This is my Son, listen to him.) 
Now, Jesus, as thou art both God and man, and were baptized in from Jordan,
At our last end, we pray thee, say then:
Hic est filius meus, ipsum intende. (This is my Son, listen to him.)

I heartily recommend taking the time to listen -- it could be a pleasant way to end the day. (we also sing Compline every week at my church, though our service is somewhat simpler than Seattle's.). 
 We remember Peter Hallock today and give thanks for his ministry in music, which will surely continue through his many works.

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