Peter R. Hallock (1924-2014)

Peter Hallock in KitchenSunday, April 27, 2014, was the Octave Day of Easter, also known as “Quasimodo Sunday,” after the beginning of the introit for the Mass of the day. Here are those opening words, which inspired Victor Hugo to have his character “Quasimodo” born on and named for that day:

Quasi modo géniti infántes, allelúja: rationabiles, sine dolo lac concupíscite, allelúja, allelúja allelúja.
(1 Peter 2: 2)
As newborn babes, alleluia, long for pure spiritual milk, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

A little before 6 p.m. on that day, as my wife and I were preparing to take our dog for a walk, we received the news that Peter Hallock, founder of the Compline Choir, had died, shortly after getting back home from the convalescent center where he had been for several weeks.

Volunteer Park, 1930

Volunteer Park, 1930

We drove as planned to Volunteer Park in Seattle, which is near St. Mark’s Cathedral, where I would go on to sing Compline that night. We walked in the venerable park, one of the many projects of the Olmstead brothers, which was completed in 1912. I was in a kind of daze – or shock – from knowing that my guide, friend, teacher, and mentor for almost fifty years had departed this earth. Many memories of times shared with him came flooding over me. I was happy that he was able to read about some of them in my book, Prayer as Night Falls (2013), which is dedicated to him.

We walked by the spot where in 1969 I had come with a group of parishioners from Christ Church, Tacoma, to join with those of other parishes to picnic in the park, and then process to St. Mark’s for a communion service; it’s an annual event called “Cathedral Day.” As we entered the cathedral in 1969, Peter was there to greet us with a thundering improvisation on the four-year-old Flentrop organ.

It was on a similar Cathedral Day in 1936 when the 12-year-old Peter Hallock first experienced the space of the building,  was mesmerized by the sound of the organ, and knew his destiny was with that space and that place. We have all been blessed beyond measure by that day and that calling.

And from now on, the Second Sunday of Easter will have a new meaning for me – a day to remember the remarkable life of Peter R. Hallock, and especially his contribution to sacred music.

*   *   *   *   *

Here are several links from the last few days:

Jason Anderson’s recounting of Peter’s last few hours, from Katherine Crosier’s blog.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer article.

A wonderful tribute by organist Jonathan Dimmock.

And this is only the beginning….



  1. #1 by Laura Martin on May 2, 2014 - 11:30 am

    Thanks, Ken…you say things well, you have the best things in your links…it’s great. I value all the time and work you must do to put this together.
    I loved Peter…

  2. #2 by Dennis Campbell on May 4, 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Thanks Ken. Beautiful job.

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