Monday, September 12, 2005

Ralph Woodward: November 21, 1918 - September 6, 2005

Speaking of a lot happening in 11 days, we learned from reading our ward newsletter upon our return that dear friend Ralph Woodward died while we were gone. His obituary is here.

I last saw him at the Easter service in the Jamestown Branch (he had asked our daughter, Caroline, to solo, and I sang bass with the accompanying choir).

My first (and recurring) memory is seeing him, tall and stately in black tie and tails, directing Christmas at Midday with "stereo" choirs on the opposite open staircases at the Harris Fine Art Center.

When we moved into the Edgemont 14th Ward, he was one of the first neighbors to visit and welcome us -- with a warm loaf of homemade bread. My sisters took voice lessons from his wife, and my children sang in his son's Salt Lake Children's Choir.

We members of the Edgemont 14th Ward cherished the privilege of singing in Ralph's "choir" (he directed the hymns in sacrament meeting until his and Mary's health required their move to the Courtyard at Jamestown assisted living center).

His funeral program included (of course) lots of wonderful music performed and directed by former students and colleagues. For example: organ prelude was by Robert Cundick, former Tabernacle Choir organist; a choir performed, composed of former members of the BYU A Capella Choir, the Ralph Woodward Chorale (including members of the Tabernacle Choir); and Craig Jessop conducted the choir (a former graduate assistant to Ralph, and current director of the Tabernacle Choir). Ralph's musical legacy is immense and far reaching.

A kinder, gentler man I've never known.

This poem was on the back of his funeral program:
To Music
by Franz von Schober

Thou lovely Art,
How oft in hours of sadness
When life encircled me and held me fast,
Hast thou my heart transported up to gladness,
And to a better world my soul has passed,
and to a better world I've passed.

How oft a sigh from out thy harp has charmed me,
With sweeter holier harmonies from Thee,
Then Heaven's portals have themselves seemed opened
Thou lovely Art.
My thanks I give to Thee,
Thou lovely Art, my thanks to Thee!
(There is beautiful double meaning in the twin references to a soul passing to a better world -- transported by music.)

My thanks to God for his gift of music, and to Ralph, through whom God so beautifully shared that lovely Art. Farewell, dear friend. Until we sing again -- choirs of angels.

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