LETTERS FROM OUR RECTOR, THE REV. JIMMY GRACE-
Bill Gilbert has been a fixture on the organ bench at St. Andrew’s for 25 years. To provide a little bit of context, when Bill started playing the organ here, there was no email, no iPhones, the Rockets had not yet won back to back championships, and the Houston Oilers were our football team. How much has changed in this quarter of a century!
For 25 years, Bill has faithfully played the organ, and for much of that time, he directed the choir as well. Bill has done all this graciously, and with a nominal stipend from the church. This means that much of the work Bill has accomplished at St. Andrew’s has come out of the goodness of his own heart.
Bill confided in me some time ago his desire to step down from the organ bench at the end of August this year. Since Bill is a parishioner, musician, and organist at St. Andrew’s, I know that this news will affect us on several different levels. It goes beyond saying what an asset Bill has been to this church both liturgically and musically. While this year will mark a transition for Bill in regards to his musical involvement at the parish, he has indicated that St. Andrew’s will remain his parish home. Bill and his wife Pat Caver will continue to be involved here, and will even try out sitting in a pew together!
When I told Bill that I would be writing an article about his retirement for the April edition of The Voice, Bill said “the less said the better!” Bill’s self-deprecation and humility are among the many attributes I admire about him. He is eloquent, bright, and most importantly, sincere. And, he has one of the finest collections of socks I have ever seen!
During his time at St. Andrew’s, Bill has endeared himself to many who have had the privilege to sing with him. Paul Hardwick, who sings in the choir, comments that Bill’s “knowledge of the hymns is amazing. He adds additional life and meaning to the songs, and I appreciate how he goes into detail about the history of the hymns.” Anne Jones, a lifelong member of St. Andrew’s and member of the choir says, “it will be sad not to see Bill’s brightly colored sock-clad feet when the choir and organist receive their communion. It will be strange not to hear all the stops pulled out in the final verse of the recessional hymn, musical triumph at full volume. It will be downright tragic not to have Bill’s notorious eggnog at Christmas Eve after the late service. I hope civilian life treats him well after a long tour of duty as the pulse of St. Andrew’s.”
Anne’s mother, Genevieve Mandola, a parishioner from 1984 – 2004, recalls that “Bill was a wonderful mentor to all in the choir and instrumental in securing the St. Andrew's pipe organ and its maintenance fund. More so, to me he's a cherished friend. St. Andrew’s will miss his talents.”
Plans are underway to honor Bill’s music ministry at St. Andrew’s, and as we draw closer to the end of August, there will be ample opportunity to celebrate all that Bill has accomplished at this parish and all he means to us. This is a significant moment in the history of St. Andrew’s and in Bill and Pat’s life together. I look forward to celebrating them both, and ask you to hold them in your prayers.