I learnt last night of the passing of William A. Goodwin, for many years organist, music director, and the guy who kept all the infrastructure together, at the First Congregational Church in Woburn. A son of the kindly middle west, Bill departed from this vale of tears and committees this past Saturday.
First among those who mourn Bill's passing must be the sweet-voiced E. & G. G. Hook organ at First Congo. Now that Bill is gone, there is no knowing if any organist will step up who might be half the caretaker of this magnificent instrument that Bill was. It is a beautiful instrument, whose glorious sound was wont to fill a beautiful space.
In a world of complainers and finger-pointers, Bill was ever the quiet fellow who kept his own counsel, rolled up his sleeves, and got the job done; and if thereby there was some peace made between two contentious individuals, so much the better.
His was a modest soul in a gracious, small-town way. It is his wish that there be no memorial service for his passing. Those whose lives he touched do not really require such a service, for the memory of his many selfless, generous deeds is incense enough, praying for divine succor to his spirit. When we were new to Massachusetts, Bill's quiet gift to us for our first Thanksgiving was a gift card redeemable at a local supermarket. When we were hungry, he gave to us to eat.
It was one of the first of innumerable, generally small (so as not to draw too much attention), although in the aggregate substantial, acts on Bill's part which through the years aided the material sustenance of our family.
He was a musical friend. When I first came to the Boston area (and was thus Just Another Composer in Town), Bill took the brave step of inviting me to write something for use in the church; more than that (and in spite of the at times time-consuming musical demands), he liked what he heard and played. A list of pieces which I wrote either on Bill's specific request, or in the environment of his musical welcome, includes:
Fantasy on a Tallis Hymn, Op.30 (clarinet & organ)
Exultate Deo, Op.31 (brass septet)
Bless the Lord, O my soul, Op.32 (unaccompanied choir)
Three Short Pieces, Op.34 (organ solo)
Kingsfold, Op.35 (choir and piano)
My Times Are in Your Hand, Op.36 (unaccompanied choir)
Festive Voluntary, Op.37 (brass quintet, tiompani & organ)
Sinfonietta, Op.38 (brass quintet)
Bless the Lord at All Times, Op.42 (choir unaccompanied)
Four Silent Prayers, Op.43 (piano solo)
Danse antique, Op.44 (brass quintet and organ)
Danby, Op.45 (choir and organ)
Voluntary on « Exaltabo Te Deus », Op.47a (clarinet and organ)
Alleluia in D, Op.48 (choir unaccompanied)
Trumpet Call Voluntary, Op.51 (flute, clarinet, trumpet, bassoon & organ)
Born on Earth to Save Us, Op.52 (tenor solo, unison choir, organ, optional handbells)
Joseph and Mary, Op.53 (flute, clarinet, trumpet, bassoon, handbells, unison choir and piano)
All Glory, Laud and Honor, Op.56 (soprano, violin & organ)
I Look from Afar, Op.60 (choir, brass quintet, timpani & organ)
Reflections on a French Carol, Op.61 (clarinet, trumpet, bassoon & organ)
Pascha nostrum, Op.62 (choir, brass quintet & organ)
Fragments of « Morning Has Broken », Op.64 (clarinet, violin & piano)
Prelude on « Kremser », Op.66 (trumpet or clarinet & organ)
Sweetest Ancient Cradle Song, Op.67 (choir, brass quintet & organ)
The Snow Lay on the Ground, Op.68 (clarinet, trumpet, bassoon, handbells, choir and piano)
Postlude on « Wie lieblich es », Op.69 (clarinet & organ)
Canzona & Gigue, Op.77 (clarinet & organ)
Bill, you were one in a million, and you were a true and steady friend. Many times ere now I have thanked you, and now you have gone where I can send thanks only as a prayer. God give your soul rest.