A special carol has been composed in memory of a Sheffield organist murdered on his way to church.
Leading English composer Bob Chilcott – whose music is commissioned and sung by choirs all over the world – said he wrote the piece because he was affected by the killing of Alan Greaves in High Green last Christmas Eve.
He said: “Last year, when Mr Greaves was murdered, I along with many others was deeply shocked and saddened by it and wanted to react in some way.
“I have been involved with church music all my life, both as a singer and for a while as a church organist in London, and I like many others have walked to church to play the organ for the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.
“On Christmas Day last year I found a lovely poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins called ‘Moonless darkness stands between’ and I set it in memory of Mr Greaves.
The piece is called ‘The Bethlehem Star’.
Maureen Greaves, Alan’s widow said: “I am truly overwhelmed by this most beautiful of gifts to me, Alan’s family and to the wider community.
“The words of the poem so reflect Alan who lived his life loving his Saviour and who sought to live a pure and holy life consecrated to him.
“The musical arrangement is superb and I can say with all sincerity that if Alan could listen to it himself he would be deeply moved.”
Canon Simon Bessant, vicar of St Saviour’s Church where Alan was to play the organ, said he played the piece to Maureen and they had both shed ‘gentle tears’.
He said: “I know this means a lot to her.
“Bob has a glowing reputation among choirs in Britain and the USA for his accessible and beautifully crafted choral music, and especially in regard to his Christmas carols.
“His new carol has a simple melody, but the arrangement is beguilingly beautiful and achingly sad; it is a miniature gem of a carol, deeply touching without being sentimental.
“I hope many choirs will add it to their repertoire in the coming years.
“It is deeply touching Bob, who never met Alan, should relate to the terrible attack upon him by creating beauty out of such an ugly event.
“I cannot think of a more appropriate and beautiful way of honouring Alan’s ministry as a church musician.”
By Gerald Manley Hopkins
Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.