Raymond F. Glover, 1928-2017

Church musician, Ray Glover, editor of The Hymnal 1982, died in December. Below is his obituary along with the sermon that the Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb preached at his funeral, which was held at Immanuel Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary.

When I first moved to Richmond in 2007 Ray reached out to me and invited me to lunch at his home.  He and his wife, Joyce, were incredibly gracious. I got to see Ray’s wonderful paintings and toured their beautiful garden. Their hospitality meant a great deal to me. I was able to get to know a musical giant, someone I had only met once in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was speaking about the “new” hymnal. The Hymnal 1982 and the Hymnal Companion stand as testament to this man’s greatness. His contributions to the Episcopal Church are innumerable. Rest in peace, dear Ray!

RAYMOND F. GLOVER (1928-2017)

Church musician Raymond F. Glover, 89, who influenced millions of Episcopalians by being the general editor of The Hymnal 1982, died Dec. 15 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Glover was born in Buffalo, New York, and began his musical life as a young chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral there. Later, he sang in the choir at St. Mary Magdalen, when he was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, studying composition with Healy Willan, who became his mentor and friend. His next move was to Union Theological Seminary to earn a Masters of Sacred Music. He returned to Buffalo as cathedral organist and choirmaster and met Joyce MacDonald (1923-2013), who was director of Christian education. They were married on Easter Monday 1957 and remained partners in so many ways throughout their life together.

From Buffalo, they moved to the cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1962, where Glover built a vibrant music and arts program that reached deep into the urban community on the church’s doorstep and beyond into the surrounding suburbs. The highlights of those 11 years at Christ Church Cathedral included numerous organ recitals and flower shows, performances of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Britten’s Noye’s Fludde and St. Nicholas, and a professional recording of the choir to assist the fundraising for their two-week tour of England in 1971.

The 1960s were a time of great change, and Glover played his role in musical response to liturgical reform as a member of what was then known as the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Church Music. During this decade, he taught at Berkeley Divinity School and found time while on the Yale campus to study organ with the university’s organist, Charles Krigbaum. Then in 1966, Glover joined Jim Litton and Gerre Hancock to found the Association of Anglican Musicians (AAM) and served as president from 1969-70.

Jack Spong, who was then rector of St. Paul’s in Richmond, Virginia, and later became bishop of the Diocese of Newark, called Glover to become director of music. During his time there, Glover oversaw the building of new choirs, music and arts programs and a new organ. He continued to travel extensively as chair of the church music commission’s hymnal committee, preparing the way for the new hymnal, which he was appointed to edit in 1980.

The Hymnal 1982 was dedicated at Washington National Cathedral in 1985, and Glover went on to edit a four-volume companion. In 1986, he was granted an honorary doctorate from Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), where he later joined the faculty as professor of music and organist (1991-2000). With Marilyn Keiser and Carol Doran he was instrumental in the development of the Program for Musicians Serving in Small Congregations. Following his retirement, Glover continued to teach and develop new courses in collaboration with VTS colleagues.

In addition to his decades of service to the Episcopal Church, he also taught music and conducted choirs for independent schools in each of the cities where he was organist and choirmaster – Nichols in Buffalo, Kingswood-Oxford in Hartford and St. Catherine’s in Richmond.

Glover was buried at Virginia Theological Seminary, following a funeral in the seminary chapel at 10:30 am on Dec. 28. The sermon by the Rev. Dr. Kathy Grieb can be found here. Donations will be gratefully received by VTS and AAM. He is survived by his daughters, Margaret and Katie, and grandchildren Sarah and Simon Lasseron and Rachel and Susannah Mahon.


The Rev. Dr. Katherine A. Grieb
Immanuel Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary
December 28, 2017
The Feast of the Holy Innocents

Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 139:1-11
1 Corinthians 15:20-26,35-38, 42-44,51-58
John 11:21-27                                                                                                                    

Please join me in this prayer of invocation from George Herbert: “Come, my way, my truth, my life; such a way as gives us breath; such a truth as ends all strife; such a life as killeth death.” (Hymn 487, v.1) Amen.

I take as one of my texts, the words we heard from psalm 139: “If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I make the grave my bed, you are there also. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there your hand will lead me and your right hand hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:7-9)

I say I take that as one of my texts because, as you will have noticed, Ray Glover gave us lots of texts – both biblical texts and hymnal texts — to ponder today, as we give thanks for his life among us, and, reluctantly, give him back to the dust from which he and all of us come, as we remember solemnly every Ash Wednesday. And so this dust, this little pile of ashes, which we will soon commit to the earth, is an occasion for our thanksgiving for the many gifts he gave us; it is also an occasion for our songs of triumph because of Christ’s triumph over Death; moreover, it is an occasion to reflect a bit about the resurrection from the dead; and, finally, it is an occasion of tenderness and gentleness, towards one another and towards this very special little pile of ashes.

So first, to give thanks for at least some of the many gifts Ray gave us. In one sense that’s easy; in another, it’s impossible. This is what I mean. At the tomb of Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) the famous architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, is an epitaph in Latin: “Lector, si monumentum requires, circumspice” or “Reader, if you require a monument, look around you.” When you look around, you see St Paul’s in all its splendor, but if you keep on looking around, you see dozens of other churches in London as well, all rebuilt by him after the great fire. Something of the same kind – in another key — is true of Ray Glover. We might say, “Singer, organist, church musician, music scholar, if you require a monument, open the blue book in front of you, open the 1982 Hymnal.” And when we do that, when we open it, we see a great richness of quality, of diversity, of tradition preserved, of newness celebrated, of depth and weight in those German chorales, and also lightness and dancing in those French Advent hymns, of Anglican staples, and of newly discovered gems from around the Anglican Communion and from our ecumenical partners. It’s amazing that it all fits between the covers of one book.

But then when we look around further, we see the four-volume 1982 Hymnal Companion, a massive work of scholarly interpretation; we see many years of teaching here at this Seminary by a man who “delighted” in his students (there’s really no other word for how Ray taught); we also see the AAM, the Association of Anglican Musicians, which Ray helped to found under another name in 1966. We see almost 56 years of marriage to Joyce MacDonald Glover until her death in 2013 (you’ll notice that it’s her translation of Ubi Caritas that we sing in Hymn 606 today, Ray was careful to include that) and their daughters Margaret and Kathryn and a lovely group of grandchildren; if we keep looking, we also see the Leadership Program for Musicians Serving Small Congregations – that would be the 95 % of church musicians who are not serving in cathedrals or tall steepled parishes – Ray helped to found that , too. We would also see many enduring friendships, conversations that were too good to stop, people who remember feasts of the kind that Isaiah 25 describes – rich food, well-aged wines – to celebrate life, because God will destroy the shroud that hangs over the people; God will swallow up Death forever!

We still haven’t exhausted all that we want to give thanks for, or listed all of the gifts that Ray Glover has given to us, but that’s my cue to move on to the next point: this is an occasion for our songs of triumph because of the victory that Jesus Christ has won over Death. At the Lamb’s High Feast (Easter) we sing! Of course, we sing – praise to our victorious king – Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed, Paschal victim, Paschal bread – now no more can Death appall, now no more the grave enthrall; thou hast opened Paradise, and in Thee thy saints shall rise!’ (Hymn 174)   That’s why “All [our] hope on God is founded.”   Ray Glover, our DJ for today, knew exactly what he was doing theologically. This hymn is in here not only because, as Bill Roberts says, Michael is the most beautiful tune in the Hymnal, but also because it’s some of the best theology in the Hymnal and the last verse calls us to praise and to trust:

Still from earth to God eternal sacrifice of praise be done,
High above all praises praising for the gift of Christ, his son.
Christ doth call one and all: ye who follow shall not fall.

We need to be reminded that God is trustworthy because it is the hardest thing Christians are called to do: to place the body or the cremated remains of a loved one into the ground and trust God to raise it from the dead again. All the evidence of our senses, all the history that we personally have experienced, and all the history we have heard about before us, gives us no grounds to expect much to happen after that. But even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Why?

Well, this is where we need to hear from St. Paul and perhaps also from George Frederick Händel (1685-1759). When I travel to the AAR/SBL once a year, if there is no Youth Hostel, I stay in a hotel and because travel is usually stressful, I’m tired, but I want to get to the first session on time, so in addition to the alarm clock I carry with me, I usually ask the front desk to give me a wake up call and they do: the phone rings and I make my session. Well, Ray, the good news for you – and for all of us– is that there is no way we will miss the wake up call. The trumpet shall sound! “The trumpet shall sound! And the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:52) Händel choreographed that as an Air for the Bass in his Messiah. But it is punctuated by the brilliant sound of the trumpet.

I’m thinking on that day, it will be an angel who sounds something like Wynton Marsalis – clear, crisp, well-defined notes that ring out the joyful summons to resurrection. On that first note, people will jump out of their graves. It’s the greatest wake-up call ever.

It’s not clear from the New Testament whether those who die in the Lord will sleep a long time or a short time: in 1 Corinthians 15, as we heard, Paul talks about the difference between the physical body that we put into the ground and the spiritual body that God raises from the dead. The analogy he uses is that it’s like planting corn: we put into the ground a small square yellow thing, but God raises a long, tall green leafy thing from that. It’s different from what we knew. This is supported by every single resurrection story in the Gospels where people who had known Jesus well, worked with him, traveled with him, listened to him, for several years didn’t recognize him at first. But Paul’s analogy in 1 Corinthians seems to imply a long time and an end time in which the whole creation – all the dead from the past – will be raised at once on the last day. The trumpet shall sound! The dialogue we heard from John 11 between Jesus and Martha about her brother Lazarus seems to assume the same thing: Martha says, “I know that he will rise again on the last day.”

But in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says to one of the thieves on the cross next to his, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” And Paul, in Philippians, wonders whether he will get out of that prison alive and says to the Church, “I would rather depart and be with the Lord,” as if it were almost all one action, not much time lapse at all. So even Paul himself is inconsistent on this point, and you can’t really blame him – he didn’t know how it would be. Like all theologians, he’s wondering and imagining how it must be or how it might be. One of my favorite cartoons shows a man standing in front of the heavenly gate. We see St. Peter writing in the book and behind him is God, who says, “A theologian, huh? You guys are always fun.” My point here is that we don’t know any more than Paul or Luke or John or Isaiah or the Psalmist knew about exactly what will happen after death. We are called to trust God and we are free, we are even invited to wonder creatively about how God will welcome those whom we have loved and lost, how they will be reunited with those they have loved and lost, and how we will be reunited with them in God’s good time, whether the time is long or short, whether time, as we understand it here is anything like what it is in the presence of God. We don’t know, but God knows, and we trust God.

That brings me to my final point, that today is an occasion for tenderness, for gentleness, as we entrust to God this little pile of ashes for safekeeping in the meantime. Ray Glover and I team-taught a course on Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685-1750) St. Matthew Passion. Naturally we did it in the spring of the Matthew lectionary year and tied it to Reilly Lewis’s Washington Bach Consort. I think we did it three times, over a period of nine years, and each time was significantly different. One famous year, the class as a whole, decided to stage a mini-version of the Passion for the VTS community. Jay Chadwick re-scored it for horns and invited some horn players to help play the orchestral parts; others sang their favorite solo pieces and we all sang the choruses. Needless to say, I learned a lot from Ray about Bach and the St. Matthew Passion. There were many parts of it he loved, but he was especially taken by the opening double chorus where the daughters of Jerusalem are asked to help tell the story, juxtaposed to a chorale about the sacrifice of the sinless Lamb of God for our sins. And he also especially loved the ending, the Chorus at the very end of the Passion, which is a kind of lullaby.

It is sung, again, with the help of the daughters of Jerusalem, to the body of Jesus. I couldn’t help thinking of it as I prepared this sermon, so I share these words with all of you, but Ray, I speak them to you.

Wir setzen uns mit träner nieder   und rufen dir im Grabe zu:
Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh; ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh.

Translated: We sit down with tears and we call to you in the grave:
Rest softly, softly rest; rest softly, softly rest.

Ruhe sanfte, Ray, sanfte ruh and thank you for a life well-lived, a life full of love and hope and laughter