Sad news, grief, and a hymn
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    Dearest friends,

    My son Alexander passed away shortly after midnight on October 25th, after a rapid decline in a long battle with metastatic cancer (originally from an adenoid cystic carcinoma of the lacrimal gland that had caused him to lose an eye a few years ago). While my grief is almost insurmountable and I'm nearly inconsolable, I've taken refuge in music as the way that I express my deepest feelings (I don't express myself well verbally, although writing is marginally better than speaking).

    And so here is a hymn "Gentle Shepherd, Thou hast stilled" whose text is set to the hymn tune O'CONNELL that I had composed shortly after the recent passing of Thomas P. O'Connell's (a friend and founder of a local funeral home), knowing full well that it would not be too long before our dear Alexander would pass away, also. The tune (originally) was composed to be paired with another tune for a completely different text (which I shall share here shortly), but when I found this particular text, I knew that it was particularly appropriate as a hymn to honour my son.

    The text speaks primarily of the loss of a child, and, Alexander was my child whom I held lovingly in my arms when he was but a baby, an infant, a small boy - even as, every night for several years now, I carry our sweet black & tan miniature Dachshund, Cocoa Bean, off to bed, cradled in my arms, each of us looking lovingly at each other - something that I've come to associate more and more especially with Alex, but also with each of my children.

    Requiescat in pace, Alex. May angels guide your spirit to heaven.

    Sending love to all of you, even in the midst of grief,
    Chuck Giffen

    “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
    ― Jamie Anderson
  • Requiescat in pace. I’m so sorry. Praying for you.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • My condolences are yours.

    May light perpetual shine upon Alexander and all the faithful departed.

    And many thanks for sharing your hymn.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Lux aeterna. I'm so very sorry.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Requiescat in pace.

    How old was he. Did he leave a widow or children or both?
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,846
    Very sad.
    God bless Alexander and you and all your family.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    Alex turned 34 on October 14th, left a family that includes two young children, Emma and Leon.
  • I'll put you and your family on the prayer list at Walsingham, and will put Alex on the All Souls' list of those to be remembered at mass.
  • Prayers and best wishes from Cincinnati for Alex and his family, for you and your wife.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,079
    I am so sorry. May his memory be eternal. Prayers for him and all of his family.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I'm so sorry to hear this. May God comfort and sustain you and your family.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Carol
    Posts: 475
    So sorry for your loss and what a beautiful tribute you have written. I will be praying for Alex and for all who loved him.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,567
    I’ll have a priest offer a Requiem mass for him. My prayers are with you in this difficult time.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,463
    My condolences, Charles. Prayers for his soul, and for you and your family. Requiescat in Pace.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I'm so sorry to hear this. Praying for you and for your family.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Condolences for you and your family. And what a lovely piece to have written in his memory.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • davido
    Posts: 182
    Charles can we do anything for your daughter in law?
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    Thanks, davido, but Kelsey has a good support group, and her mother is staying with her for a time.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,463
    While not wishing to turn this into simply a music theory/composition thread:
    I noticed that the passage in O'CONNELL at bars 6-7 is identical to bars 6-7 of RASMUS--was this a conscious decision on your part or just a felix culpa? Bars 6-7 are my favorite part of RASMUS, and the link between the text in that passage and the context new hymn are amazingly apt, since that part always seems to speak of Love: e.g. in Vs. 3 of "Let thy blood" (the part set in those to bars in bold):
    By the thorns crowned thy brow,
    By the spear-wound and the nailing,
    By the pain and death, I now
    Claim, O Christ, thy love unfailing.

    Thou didst give thyself for me,
    Now I give myself to thee.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,800
    Memory eternal. And comfort and strength to you and your family and all of his loved ones.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,284
    My condolences to you, Charles, as a fellow composer, brother in Christ, and as a member (Alexander) graduating from the Church Militant to the Church Suffering.

    All my daily rosaries forward will include Alexander, because each one I pray is for those who have died that I know, even if only through our cyber relations... is it possible to have a picture of him in memoriam?
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • My condolences. So sorry for your loss. I'll add Alex, his wife and children, and you and your wife to my prayers.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,523
    is it possible to have a picture of him in memoriam?
    Or even better a prayer card, my missals and various music books are full of them. Each time I see one I say a prayer for the person commemorated on the card.

    Will add Alexander to my list of people to have Requiems said for their intention.
  • He will be in my prayers for this month of Holy Souls. I'm so sorry.

    Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem sempiternam.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    Here is a fairly recent picture of Alexander. Thank you all so very much for your thoughts, your wishes, and your prayers.
    884 x 884 - 64K
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,083
    Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heav'n:
    to enter into that gate and dwell in that house,
    where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
    no noise nor silence, but one equal music;
    no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession;
    no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity;
    in the habitation of thy glory and dominion, world without end.
    -John Donne.

    Requiescat in pace. Our prayers go with you this day.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 317
    All your family are in our prayers, and thank you for a beautiful piece of music.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Dear Charles
    So sad to hear of your loss.
    His name will be placed on the altar here, in the month of holy souls
    and you & family will be placed in my rosaries, committing you to Our Lady of Sorrows, who knows what it is to lose a child. Requiescat in pace.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,053
    I am so sorry, dear Chuck. May Alexander rest in peace.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 194
    I am praying for you both, Mr. Giffen. Thank you for being a loving father, and preparing your son to recognize the music of heaven right away.
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 225
    I'm very sorry. May he rest in peace. I'll keep you in my prayers.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Know of my and my family’s prayers for him, you, his wife, and for your whole family. Requiem aeternam!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • TeresaH
    Posts: 53
    I join my prayers to all the rest for Alex and all your family. You have a lot of friends here. I hope Gregorian Masses can and will be said for him.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,405
    I'm so very sorry. We will keep you in our prayers. I can't even imagine. May he rest in peace.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Maybeso
    Posts: 4
    How lovely your hymn, Mr. Giffen!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 659
    Praying for you, your family & friends, and the repose of your son's soul.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,123
    I will add my prayers to those of the many here. Also that the Lord may comfort you in a very special way and reassure you that he is in Loving arms.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 137
    Prayers for your family, his, and Alexander.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    @Salieri wrote:
    I noticed that the passage in O'CONNELL at bars 6-7 is identical to bars 6-7 of RASMUS--was this a conscious decision on your part or just a felix culpa? Bars 6-7 are my favorite part of RASMUS, and the link between the text in that passage and the context new hymn are amazingly apt, since that part always seems to speak of Love: e.g. in Vs. 3 of "Let thy blood" ...

    Much of the connection is revealed in here, in this thread about my setting of the entire "Holy God, we praise thy Name" (all 8 stanzas, as a Te Deum paraphrase) to a combination of RASMUS (recast in triple 6/4meter from the original duple 4/4 meter) and O'CONNELL (the tune for "Gentle Shepherd, Thou hast stilled"). Indeed, O'CONNELL was composed with the triple meter RASMUS in mind, as a dominant relative minor tune to the F-major RASMUS, and in bars 6-7 melodic correspondence is certainly serendipitous. The recent passing of Thomas O'Connell and facing the imminent passing of my son Alexander were much on my mind in the composition of O'CONNELL.

    Salieri's observations about how bars 6-7 in "Let Thy Blood in mercy poured" (set to RASMUS in the original duple meter) seem to speak of Love is something that I was not consciously aware of at the time, but it is indeed certainly apt, even if serendipitous. If anything, this new setting of (the complete 8 stanza) "Holy God, we praise thy Name" as an English language paraphrase of the Te Deum has a deeper meaning and significance, at least to me.

    Thanks again to Salieri and to all of you for your thoughts and prayers on behalf of Alexander. I am deeply grateful and appreciative for your care and support.

    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • JKWJKW
    Posts: 29
    I sang each verse aloud as set here and tearfully and prayerfully offered them for you and your family. Moving setting. Thank you for sharing your music at such a time of intense grief and sorrow. You are in my thoughts and prayers.