Because of Clancy, I had the privilege to sing songs by Johann Sebastian Bach in the Thomaskirche (St. Thomas Church) in Leipzig where Bach had served as a cantor. This happened in January, 1974, when Leipzig was part of the German Democratic Republic.
Clarence Martin died on April 5. Of course, I have to say that I know of no one who called him Clarence. I knew him as Clancy. Everyone I knew did too.
Clancy taught in the music department at Westminster College for over forty years. He directed the choirs and served as the department chair. He started before I was born and he was there when I arrived and he remained there long after I graduated.
I freely acknowledge that I have limited musical skills. I enjoy singing and can carry a bit of a tune. I can’t hold my own when singing with strong singers. I end up on their parts.
During the time when I was there, Westminster had multiple choirs. I sang with one of the lower level choirs. Clancy was a warm, kind gracious man who always had time for students – no matter what one’s musical ability might be. He and Ray Ocock, the college organist and professor of organ, made a wonderful team. I have fond memories of talking with each of them – not only about music but about all dimensions of life – not only in the music department but anywhere we met on campus.
Clancy and Ray announced a choir tour of Europe for January, 1974. A few spots were available based, not only on musical ability, but on ability to pay. I applied and they chose me. Clancy spent some significant time working with some of the weaker singers. I was among them. We visited several countries, stayed with families, met great people, built and nurtured friendships, consumed massive quantities of alcohol, and sang in some amazing places.
His obituary notes that tours to Europe were among his fondest memories. Those tours, it says included performances in Westminster Abbey in London, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.
I have many fond memories of my tour with Clancy. I did not sing in St. Peter’s, we did not go to Rome. We may have sung in Westminster Abbey or Notre Dame Cathedral.
What I remember most about the musical part of the tour is spontaneously forming rows and singing Bach in Leipzig. A truly holy moment.
Thanks, Clancy! Thank you God for Clancy.
See you along the Trail.