Dean Letter: John Peeling Choir Memories

Dear St. Paul’s family,
One of our core ministries is that of music, and we are justifiably proud of our choirs. Here are some reflections on being a chorister from John Peeling, who has sung in our choir since 1963.
When I was a young child we lived in an apartment right across the street from the old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church building, which had been moved to San Diego State College campus.  We attended services there while I was in first and second grades.  I was in the first Sunday school class when the church transitioned into St. Dunstan’s Church.  I also took keyboard lessons there, I’m told, on the organ. Later in my childhood I participated in some plays which were presented in the Parish Hall (now the Great Hall) of St. Paul’s.
When I was in college at San Diego State, I applied to St. Paul’s for a paid chorister position and was hired, along with a couple of my classmates, under the direction of Larry King. Right off the bat, I recognized the high quality of music St. Paul’s was providing, and it was my joy to be part of such a fine group.  My (then) wife and I sang also in the mixed Parish Choir along with a number of other young couples.  The younger members (about 20 or so) of the mixed choir even participated in some young adult choir festivals, so young was our average age.
About the time our fourth choir director and organist, Edgar Billups, arrived, he reorganized the girls’ choir into a choir of girls and men, replicating that of the boys and men.  My daughters Kathy and Becky were just at the right age to join and both sang until they graduated from high school.  Later, my youngest brother’s children, Matthew, Bethany, and Sarah sang for a number of years with the choirs even though they were Lutherans. 
When my father died in 1986, I suggested to my mother Maria that she join the St. Paul’s adult choir and transfer her membership from All Souls. Mother sang with us for about 20 years, including making the trip to Washington DC to sing for Dean John Chane’s installation as Bishop there. 
When my daughter Becky and her husband moved back to San Diego, both of their children, Meredith and John, joined the choirs at St. Paul’s.  Meredith sang with the St Cecilia choir of girls and men until she graduated from high school, and she now sings in the adult Cathedral Choir.  John sang treble with the Choristers of boys and men until his voice changed; then he transferred over to the men’s section and also joined the adult Cathedral Choir. 
So, all in all, it’s ten singers from our family, representing four generations, in the last 56 years since I joined the choirs in 1963, and an even longer connection to St. Paul’s.
Thanks be to God for the faithfulness of the Peeling family and their wonderful contribution to the beauty of our worship.
Your sister in Christ

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