Christmas Carols 1The English composer Bob Chilcott has written a Christmas Carol in memory of the Sheffield organist Alan Greaves, who was murdered on his way to play the organ on Christmas Eve night.  The composer explained how the carol came to be written.  “Last year when Alan Greaves was murdered, I along with many others was deeply shocked and saddened by it and wanted to react in some way.  I have been involved with church music all my life, both as a singer and for a while as a church organist in London, and I like many others have walked to church to play the organ for the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. On Christmas Day last year I found a lovely poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins called "Moonless darkness stands between" and I set it in memory of Mr Greaves. The piece is called "The Bethlehem Star".”

Maureen Greaves, Alan’s widow, has expressed her thanks to Bob Chilcott and said, “I am truly overwhelmed by this most beautiful of gifts to me, Alan's family and to the wider community. The words of the poem so reflect Alan who lived his life loving his Saviour and who sought to live a pure and holy life consecrated to him. The musical arrangement is superb and I can say with all sincerity that if Alan could listen to it himself he would be deeply moved.”
 
Simon Bessant, the Vicar who worked with Alan said, “Bob Chilcott has a glowing reputation among choirs in Britain and the USA for his accessible and beautifully crafted choral music, and especially in regard to his Christmas carols.  His new carol for unaccompanied choir has a simple melody but the arrangement is beguilingly beautiful and achingly sad; it is a miniature gem of a carol, deeply touching without being sentimental.  I hope that many choirs will add it to their repertoire in the coming years.  I think that it is deeply touching that Bob Chilcott, who never met Alan, should relate to the terrible attack upon him by creating beauty out of such an ugly event. I cannot think of a more appropriate and beautiful way of honouring Alan’s ministry as a church musician.”
 
He continued, “Bob Chilcott kindly sent me a CD for Maureen.  On its arrival I played it for her on my music system and we both shed gentle tears.  I know that this means a lot to her.”
 
Simon, Vicar