53 Years in Compline

Roxy and Bill Giddings

Roxy and Bill Giddings

On September 15, the Compine Choir from St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, had a party at the home of our founder, Peter Hallock, for both current choir members and alumni. Our special guests of honor were Bill and Roxy Giddings; Bill will be retiring from the Compline Choir after the September 30 Compline Service, 53 years after he started singing with the choir.

After earning a doctorate in Chemistry at Harvard University in 1959, Bill came to Seattle for post-doctoral work at the University of Washington. Whle in Boston, he had pursued his musical avocation as organist for a service for students at Christ Church, Cambridge, and very soon after his arrival was introduced to Compline by Al Campbell, an organist at Christ Church, Seattle, who sang in the Compline Choir.

Bill was introduced to his wife-to-be, Roxy, after the Compline Service, by a mutual friend who was an organist and choir director.  They were married at Mt. Cross Lutheran Church in University Place, WA on June 18, 1961.  After two years teaching chemistry at Albion College, Bill got a position at Pacific Lutheran University, near Tacoma, in 1962, where he taught until his retirement in 1998.

I first met Bill and Roxy in 1964, when as a student without a car, I hitched a ride with them to Seattle to sing Compline; the 30-mile trip was somewhat lengthier in those days before the completion of Interstate 5. I did get a car the next year, and with the installation of the Flentrop Organ in the fall of 1965, Bill began to “curate” the organ after Compline, either playing it himself, or assisting guest musicians to find their way around the instrument – a labor of love which he has carried on to the present day. Read about this wonderful tradition in my blog entry, “Post-Compline Organ Music”, from February 2011.

For over five decades, Bill has held down his post in the alto section, and Roxy has driven up with him every Sunday night – an amazing accomplishment for both, when, if one were to only count 50 years of commuting every week from Seattle to Parkland, would be 2600 Compline Services, and round-trips equal to about 213,200 miles! For many of those years they drove a Checker, with either a “KYRIE” or “ELEISON” licence plate.

Bill will be back to sing with the Compline Choir for the installation of the new Dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral, Steve Thomason, on October 13, and for a special Compline Service on November 25, in which we will be doing a service of Peter Hallock’s music with choir and alumni in honor of Peter’s 88th birthday. We look forward to seeing them back often. They have given us a really wonderful example of faithfulness and the Benedictine virtue of stability.

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  1. #1 by Derek on September 26, 2012 - 1:52 pm

    It was an honor and a pleasure to sing next to Bill for the short time I could. I look forward to him singing with us as much as possible in the coming years.
    -Derek

  2. #2 by Curt Zimmerman on September 26, 2012 - 2:58 pm

    Bill and Roxy are great gifts to all whom they encounter.

  3. #3 by jefe on September 26, 2012 - 4:19 pm

    It is simply humbling to see the span of devotion Bill (and Roxy) have offered to the Compline faithful at St. Mark’s.
    In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum +
    regards, as always, jefe

    • #4 by jefe on September 26, 2012 - 4:24 pm

      Perspective helps here. Our Compline Choir is closing in on 5.3 years in Compline!
      regards, as always, jefe

  4. #5 by Ken Peterson on October 1, 2012 - 10:02 am

    Had a marvelous Compline Service last night – will be posting a link to the podcast when it becomes available. Also – my math error in the number of miles Bill and Roxy have driven was pointed out to me, and I have corrected it. 🙂

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